{tex-core} is for questions that are independent of formats and macro packages. Such questions usually relate to low-level TeX programming or the behaviour of TeX at an underlying level. Note that even Plain TeX is a format in itself; for questions about it, use {plain-tex}.

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14
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1answer
213 views

What practices are there regarding the use or avoidance of “internal” TeX or LaTeX commands?

What practices are there regarding the use or avoidance of "internal" TeX or LaTeX commands? (About "command" vs "macro", there is some discussion in this TeX.SX answer, though I don't know whether ...
14
votes
1answer
210 views

How to read a stream of tokens up to one of two different delimiters

The core question How can I process text delimited by one of two terminators? For instance, if I want to process text up to the next \A, I can just write \def\CmdA#1\A{...} But suppose that \A ...
14
votes
1answer
979 views

How to transpose a table in expl3

I've been very impressed with xparse and expl3, and have written a wonderful document command using \ProcessList that takes a comma separated list and turns it into a (basically) 1 column table. ...
14
votes
1answer
782 views

How to change \hsize in the middle of a paragraph at pagebreak, especially for two-column?

The original question is: How to get two columns with different width in LaTeX? I know this older question: How can I create a two-column layout with different widths (and texts) for the two columns? ...
14
votes
1answer
222 views

Am I programmatically tieing my hands behind my back by insisting on a particular engine?

I've read Differences between LuaTeX, ConTeXt and XeTeX, but still have a niggle at the back of my mind that I'd like to ask about. I'm developing a LaTeX package/class/stuff with the aim of making ...
14
votes
2answers
642 views

Active characters let to a (non-active) character

It seems that if I \let\amp&, the alignment tab & can be replaced by \amp everywhere (e.g., in the preamble and in the body of an \halign). It is also possible to make the character & ...
14
votes
1answer
195 views

Can one determine the first character of a given math list?

I'm still pursuing my quest to code a better \widebar command. I can do bars over single characters quite well already, but I have problems when it comes to letter combinations such as AW. ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Can I see a plain TeX source file please?

all the LaTeX-tutorials tell me how LaTeX is an extention simplifying the building of TeX documents. Understandably, no one uses plain TeX anymore, right? But I seem to learn better when I grasp the ...
13
votes
5answers
286 views

Checking if a string contains # with its original catcode

At comp.text.tex the following scheme was suggested for testing if a string contains the parameter character with catcode 6. \def\endcheck{\endcheck} \def\second#1#2{#2} ...
13
votes
2answers
702 views

Can the PostScript language be used to fully replace TeX? [closed]

THE POSTSCRIPT® LANGUAGE is a simple interpretive programming language with powerful graphics capabilities. ... Because of the importance of text in most applications, the PostScript ...
13
votes
2answers
257 views

How does math mode work?

When writing an a in TeX, it is typeset as an upright "a" by default. When writing an a in math mode it is typeset in italics. Furthermore, in math mode white spaces are ignored and no empty lines ...
13
votes
4answers
869 views

Dividing dimensions to get a count

Is there a way to divide two dimens and get a count? For example, if I have a box that doesn't fit on a single page, and I want to know the number of pages I'd need for the box (i.e., \heightofbox / ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Why (La)TeX can not work with true type fonts?

I know that if one wants to use true type fonts, there are solutions via xelatex or lualatex. My question however is, why it is like so? What is the fundamental difference between latex fonts and ...
13
votes
2answers
691 views

The revenge of the vboxes

Yes, they're back. With a vengeance. Those pesky little buggers we call \vboxes which I've fought against previously. (And Bruno, too.) \parskip=0pt \def\unquo{\unvbox0\smallskip} ...
13
votes
2answers
709 views

Is a TeX macro defined?

I am looking for a way in TeX to check if a macro was defined. Currently I use a rather tangled way. I exploit a sort of side effect when comparing two macros via \ifx; this command returns: true, ...
13
votes
2answers
430 views

What is “plain TeX”?

I occasionally see a statement that plain TeX is not the same as TeX, because plain TeX is already a format. What is plain TeX, and what is the difference to TeX proper? Some answers are here (The ...
13
votes
3answers
274 views

What other macros like \pdffilesize exist?

So I just learned about \pdffilesize from this answer. Are there other similar things like this? I learned about \the\inputlineno a while ago which prints the line number of the input file. In ...
13
votes
2answers
492 views

\expandafter within a \begingroup … \endgroup [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does \begingroup\expandafter…\endgroup do? In many of Heiko Oberdiek's packages one sees this type of construction: ...
13
votes
3answers
606 views

Can I make a command not gobble spaces?

(I'm using ConTeXt, but I suspect the answer will lie in plain TeX.) I've created an environment that takes one argument myBufferName, and stores its contents in a buffer of that name. Unfortunately, ...
13
votes
3answers
935 views

How can I open a file in “append” mode?

Could not find anything in the TeXBook, but this could be just me. I guess it is always possible to open the file for reading, copy its content to another file, and then continue writing to that ...
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Globally redefining 1 pt to 1/72 in (PostScript point) and other similar changes

Introduction TeX point (1 pt in TeX) equals 1/72.27 in (= 2540/7227 mm ≈ 0.35145980351 mm). Quoting part of Traditional American point system section from Wikipedia's Point (typography) entry: In ...
13
votes
2answers
156 views

ifx, macros and grouping

I do not understand how \ifx interacts with macro definitions. Here is a minimal example: \def\a#1{\b} \def\b#1#2{[#1:#2]} \a ABC The output is [B:C], as expected. If I change the definition of \a ...
13
votes
2answers
243 views

Difference between one glue and two glues after each other

Is there a difference between A\hskip 1pt \hskip 0pt plus 1fil B and A\hskip 1pt plus 1fil B ? Are these two glues the same in terms of spacing and (line-)breaking? Or do they just add up, as I ...
13
votes
1answer
126 views

Difference between “hbox group” and “adjusted hbox group”?

eTeX's \currentgrouptype distinguishes two types of \hbox group types \hbox{\showthe\currentgrouptype} % 3 "adjusted hbox group" \noindent \hbox{\showthe\currentgrouptype} % 2 "hbox group" Looking ...
13
votes
1answer
368 views

What is the command \span?

I have bumped into the \span primitive a couple of time. I got the impression it is defined in the TeX program, not even in plain.tex. Is that right? And what does that command do and what is it for?
13
votes
2answers
1k views

Write to log without wrapping

I'd like to to generate some metadata in the log file that I can copy to another application. But the log file is wrapped to 80 columns and I end up with newlines embedded in what I'm putting there. ...
13
votes
4answers
479 views

How does one change the math style to one of the “primed” styles?

Background TeX typesets each portion of a mathematical expression in one of 8 styles: display, display', text, text', script, script', scriptscript, or scriptscript'. Knuth calls them, D, D', T, ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

How to use \valign?

I just bumped into a interesting command called \valign. It seems to be the sister of \halign, but the TeXbook seems to be rather shy on explaining its use. As is the TeX by Topic. They only mention ...
13
votes
2answers
192 views

Which TeX procedure removes trailing tabs?

From reading the TeX source, it seems that the input_ln procedure is responsible for removing trailing spaces from lines upon input (before category codes are considered). A very short excerpt from ...
13
votes
1answer
154 views

Does tex know its own command line arguments?

Is it possible to test within the document what commandline arguments were passed to tex? The particular case that prompts this is the question Tabs in output file written by xelatex and pdflatex are ...
13
votes
1answer
766 views

uppercase and \spacefactor

Apparently, \uppercase forgets about the \spacefactor at the end. For example, {What is the spacefactor?} \the\spacefactor. returns What is the spacefactor? 3000. while \uppercase{What is ...
13
votes
1answer
148 views

What is considered a token for non-standard input encodings?

When I use an input encoding to (La)TeX that allows me to directly input characters such as é and ä (such as by declaring \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}), how is a token defined? Specifically, is it ...
13
votes
1answer
218 views

How to find out if a math list consists of a single character?

When accents are placed, the TeX engine gives single characters a special treatment; see the TeXbook, Rule 12 on page 443. See also this question and its accepted answer for details. Thus, ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Which “TeX” should one use?

This question is from my confusion with the editor. In the WinEdt 6.0, there is a button for different kinds of "TeX". How do I know which one I should use and what's the difference?
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Breakable vboxes

In Plain TeX how can I make vboxes breakable, and can I handle/measure them separately? What I'm trying to do, is that I have a portion of text, that is treated separately (no indention, narrower, ...
12
votes
2answers
251 views

Define a shortcut (-> to \rightarrow) in plain TeX

I'ld like to make -> a shortcut for \rightarrow. Is that possible with Plain TeX or has it to do with the loaded font?
12
votes
2answers
168 views

What would be a suitable replacement for ifcsname in a non-etex situation?

From the pgfkeys.code.tex file: % This is useful: \def\pgfkeys@ifcsname#1\endcsname#2\else#3\fi{\expandafter\ifx\csname#1\endcsnam e\relax#3\else#2\fi}% \ifx\eTeXrevision\undefined% \else% ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Making efficient use of \writes

I'm currently trying to compile my thesis using LaTeX and have run up against the old ! No room for a new \write . problem. After some googling it seems the only way to actually resolve this problem ...
12
votes
1answer
869 views

What does the \the\everypar do?

If you test the following minimal it does not produce an error. What does it actually do? \the\everypar \bye Why doesn't it produce an error as one would expect?
12
votes
2answers
256 views

How are dashes implemented in TeX?

How does LaTeX implement the differences between the dashes? -, --, and --- all print different dashes, but - is not an active character: it has catcode 12, the same as digits like 2.
12
votes
3answers
334 views

Expansion of first token in a tabular cell

Background I currently do some work on the collcell package which collects the content of a tabular/array cell and provides it to a user defined macro, e.g. using ...
12
votes
2answers
484 views

All about \shipout

While reading about packages that allow to hook macros to certain events, I came across this command, \shipout. Searching on the internet didn't help a lot but if I'm not so wrong it's somehow related ...
12
votes
1answer
409 views

What does \empty do? [duplicate]

What does it do and what are its applications? I am currently testing the subtitle of my beamer presentation for its string length to decide about line spacings. Could it be simpler using \empty? If ...
12
votes
2answers
190 views

Can I detect whether a footnote has been split?

Title sez it all: Can I detect, hopefully by inspecting \box\footins, whether a footnote has been split at page-breaking? I found the package fnbreak but it uses labels, which is much too delayed for ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What does \relax do? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How can I speed up LaTeX compilation? What is the difference between \relax and {}? The title suggest the question. On and off, I see macros here in TeX.SE and I see ...
12
votes
1answer
772 views

From LaTeX with pdflatex to plain TeX

I've always wanted to try plain TeX instead of LaTeX. I can use plain but I'm not able to use correctly the fonts and I'm not able to use the french hyphenation. I would to know how to do this with ...
12
votes
1answer
166 views

How to get the natural width of the last box in a paragraph?

I want to get the natural width of the last line in a paragraph. For example, the last line of the following paragraph Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (September 17, 1826 – July 20, 1866) was an ...
12
votes
1answer
188 views

Array functionality in TeX?

I've been using LaTeX for a while, but only recently I made myself a mission to create a class. I needed to learn the details of TeX, and I couldn't find answers to some of my questions. One of them ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does \hss fail?

Please why does the following fail? % \hss -> \hskip 0pt plus 1fil minus 1fil \setbox0=\hbox{a}% \setbox0\hbox to 10mm{\hss\unhbox0\hss} \unhbox0 And what makes LaTeX's ...
12
votes
2answers
423 views

New lines and TeX: difference between ^^J and ^^M

What is a new line for TeX in the following contexts: When reading from a file. When writing to a file. After having read a % character. In a \scantokens. I am asking in particular because the ...