{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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12
votes
2answers
532 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
504 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
147 views

Document equivalence

What is the best way to determine, for two arbitrary input files, if they will result in the same compiled document (disregarding timestamp information and external files)? Context I'm attempting to ...
12
votes
2answers
192 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
806 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
2answers
784 views

Tricks to make macros expandable

Expandable macros are useful (I find working in the lion's mouth super cool). But they are difficult to write. Can more experienced users give hints that help achieve expandability? For example, we ...
12
votes
1answer
178 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
196 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
439 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
752 views

How to prevent extra spaces between two specific words when justification occurs?

My document contains many short, justified lines, so the lines often appear with many spaces between words, e.g.: These words have a space so that they can fit nicely into the available ...
12
votes
1answer
272 views

\show with fewer lines?

I am writing some macros for general debugging purposes (See Yiannis' question). I am basically expanding a given input step by step, and printing the result to the terminal and log. In order for this ...
12
votes
1answer
91 views

Tight connection of \vbox es

I don't understand why TeX put a thin whitespace between my two vertical boxes: \documentclass{article} \begin{document} \vbox to 1cm {\rule{1cm}{1cm}} \vbox to 1cm {\rule{1cm}{1cm}} ...
12
votes
1answer
170 views

Hide ^^^^-notation from pdftex

The following example gives when compiled with pdflatex the error ! Text line contains an invalid character. \documentclass{article} \usepackage{ifluatex} \ifluatex \usepackage{fontspec} \fi ...
12
votes
1answer
286 views

Test if a number is in a comma separated range/list of numbers

Martin Scharrer posted a very elegant answer for the question "Creating a zebra effect using listings". I want to extend that code to highlight only lines given in a comma separated list. The ...
12
votes
1answer
294 views

How can latex and pdflatex be both symbolic links to same executable (pdftex) and not behave the same?

When I run $ latex my_doc.tex and $ pdflatex my_doc.tex it works, and when I run $ pdftex my_doc.tex it doesn't work. The thing is I noticed that both LaTeX and pdflatex commands are ...
12
votes
1answer
817 views

Simple un-obfuscation of some LaTeX internals

Here's an example of some code from LaTeX's \DeclareFontFamily: \def\reserved@a{#3} \global \expandafter\let\csname #1+#2\expandafter\endcsname \ifx \reserved@a\@empty \@empty ...
12
votes
3answers
199 views

Assertions in Latex

I am writing a long latex document and use many macros for defining mathematical symbols. I would like to ensure that there is no clash in the notation. For example, something like ...
12
votes
1answer
330 views

Is Knuth's *The TeXBook* complete?

Suppose I want to learn TeX. Then, is The TeXBook a complete source? Does it cover all relevant aspect of TeX? Or is there something worth learning about TeX which is not present there? Does also ...
12
votes
0answers
134 views

Test if paragraph has an overfull line

I'd like to test if the last paragraph has any overfull line. The naive approach of looking at the \badness once the paragraph is finished does not work, as it will only give the badness of the last ...
11
votes
3answers
548 views

How could the macro xii.tex be simplified into a better readable form

I was reading some TeX guides from where I have found this source: \let~\catcode~`76~`A13~`F1~`j00~`P2jdefA71F~`7113jdefPALLF PA''FwPA;;FPAZZFLaLPA//71F71iPAHHFLPAzzFenPASSFthP;A$$FevP ...
11
votes
2answers
546 views

() or {} after a command

I was wondering why for some commands it is "(...)" that follows, while for other commands it is "{...}". For example, "\exp(x)" and "\bar{x}". Are both () and {} for specifying the arguments for the ...
11
votes
3answers
489 views

Does the \relax side-effect of \csname…\endcsname still have a use?

I find it annoying that using \csname...\endcsname will define ... to be \relax if ... is undefined, and there is no improved primitive that does not have this side-effect, though there are partial ...
11
votes
4answers
210 views

Partially expanding a command

My \john command is defined like so: \def\john{\DontExpandMe} I would now like to repeatedly change its definition, to keep adding some extra stuff on the front. \foreach\i in {ape,bat,cow,dog} { ...
11
votes
3answers
398 views

Understanding etoolbox \ifdefempty and \ifdefvoid

I am trying to understand the etoolbox \ifdefempty and \ifdefvoid macros. The documentation says that \ifdefempty Expands to true if the control sequence is defined and is a parameterless macro ...
11
votes
3answers
410 views

Parser for decimal numbers in (plain) TeX

I need help writing a parser for decimal numbers using only TeX and plain TeX. The set of accepted inputs is given by the regular expression: (+-)?(0-9)*(.,)?(0-9)+ The parser need not do anything ...
11
votes
2answers
142 views

Does a space belong after pt?

Does a space always belong after pt, e.g. as used in \hskip1pt? If a space is used, are there situations where a space will appear where it is not intended? If no space is used, will pt be ...
11
votes
2answers
209 views

Creating new primitives

Consider the following TeX: \tt ~~~[def]: \meaning\def \par ~~~[let]: \meaning\let \par [define]: \meaning\define \par ~[macro]: \meaning\macro \def\macro#1{some ...
11
votes
4answers
374 views

How can I compare two (not necessarily integer) variables?

After experimenting and researching for hours, I still cannot figure out how to perform a simple equality test between two numbers. More specifically, here, the two numbers in question are the ...
11
votes
3answers
319 views

Expandable 'character scanning' command that preserves spaces

David Carlisle recently offered a clean and rather elegant TeX solution to a question about expandable 'character scanning' commands. Unfortunately, David's solution does not preserve spaces in the ...
11
votes
3answers
195 views

Command delimited by return or blank line

I have this document \documentclass{scrartcl} \long\def\quotenextparagraph#1 {\begin{quote}#1\end{quote}} \begin{document} Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod ...
11
votes
4answers
117 views

A question about macro matching

Consider the following macro definition, and subsequent invocation: \def\foo #1 #2 \bar{stuff with #1 and #2 goes here} \foo arg1 arg2 \bar The \bar simply acts as the terminator for \foo. This all ...
11
votes
1answer
175 views

(Re)definition of commands that use delimiters other than braces (e.g. \underbrace)

How do you go about redefining a command such as \underbrace, which uses an "uncommon" delimiter, i.e. _, between its two arguments, so that the redefined command be usable in exactly the same way as ...
11
votes
3answers
518 views

How to display only certain lines of a paragraph?

From reading Knuth's TeX Book (Chapter 14 How TeX Breaks Paragraphs into Lines), I understand that entire paragraphs are read in and then "massaged" by the "line-breaking algorithm" in an optimal way ...
11
votes
3answers
270 views

List (at run time) the macros that are currently defined

TeX of course knows at any time what control words and symbols are defined. Is it possible to access this information, for example at the end of a run? Edit: the answer for pdfTeX is no, since the ...
11
votes
1answer
631 views

Using \toks registers

I was reading this tutorial for TeX programming: http://pgfplots.sourceforge.net/TeX-programming-notes.pdf recommended in the 2-nd answer here: Where do I start LaTeX programming? It says: ...
11
votes
1answer
342 views

Is there a \show for catcodes?

In the course of attempting to out-pedant another mathematician, I wanted to \show the catcode of $ to convince myself that it was a "special" character in ordinary TeX as well as LaTeX. I was just ...
11
votes
1answer
648 views

Consume/absorb a token

How does consume/absorb/remove a token from then token stream in TeX? I'm using @ifnextchar and would like to remove the character it matches.
11
votes
1answer
146 views

Begin/end a logical block?

Can I create a logical block (like HTML div element), so I can apply features like \centering locally, but not affect the outside environment?
11
votes
1answer
696 views

How to do \scantokens inside \edef without triggering “Runaway definition”

I'm trying to find a way to use the e-TeX \scantokens command inside [the equivalent of] an \edef (well, actually an \xdef, but presumably this does not make any real difference since that's just the ...
11
votes
1answer
704 views

What is the function of \noalign?

The use of \noalign is quite common. For example here \noalign is used with \vskip{}to control the height of a table cell. How does \noalign work in general, and how does it work with \vskip? ...
11
votes
1answer
130 views

Why this output using \string on the empty csname

How does this exactly work? \expandafter\string\csname\endcsname I don't know what I would expect to come from there, but definitely not \csname\endcsname_ where _ is a space. I thought ...
11
votes
1answer
170 views

XeTeXpicfile in vertical mode

Given a minimal like \line{% \vtop{\hsize=.6\hsize Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse tempor lectus sit amet laoreet convallis. Quisque at est lacinia, porttitor ...
11
votes
1answer
85 views

How to define a command using \lowercase in \csname

I was being lazy and had a lot of commands of the form \def\foo{...Foo...} So I was thinking about taking an approach like ...
11
votes
2answers
463 views

Difference between unrestricted and internal vertical mode

At any point in the processing of a document, TeX can be in one of seven modes: no mode (only in \write and similar commands, I think), math mode ($...$), display math mode ($$...$$), restricted ...
11
votes
1answer
96 views

\toks register expansion issue - or is it?

I am trying to assemble a table that occurs multiple times throughout a document. It always consists of some fixed columns, followed by a set of columns that appear in one table but are not needed in ...
11
votes
2answers
138 views

increase \hyphenation{word1 word-2…} capacity

We use LaTeX to typeset a large collection of books with many proper names. We use the \hyphenation{word1 word-2...} command to specify words that should not be hyphenated and to suggest hyphenation ...
11
votes
1answer
306 views

TeX capacity exceeded, sorry [semantic nest size=500]

Reading through tex.web, I note that there is a difference between grouping levels and semantic nesting (i.e., the nesting of math, horizontal, and vertical modes). I can think of commands which ...
11
votes
1answer
386 views

Interwoven alignment preambles are not allowed - what exactly does this mean?

I admit that this post is purely idle curiosity. But I recently stumbled upon a little factoid saying that the TeX error "Interwoven alignment preambles are not allowed" has the following explanation ...