{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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11
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3answers
1k views

Check for empty macro argument

There is a description on how to check whether the argument of a macro is empty in What does \ifx\\#1\\ stand for? Unfortunately, I can't get any of the examples there to work. Among others, I have ...
11
votes
3answers
521 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
276 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
459 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
146 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
227 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
655 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
2answers
1k views

What is the plain TeX equivalent of \settowidth?

The \settowidth command, which sets a width equal to the width of some text, is described at Get width of a given text as length and How to set the width of the label of a description to the width of ...
11
votes
5answers
563 views

Basics of scanning

I'm trying to master the art of scanning text one character at a time. The following is what I've discovered so far. Is this as good as it gets? I would really prefer not to do all those \edefs as ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Why does \@gobble take one argument

I understand what \@gobble, \@gobbletwo etc. do, but I don't understand why \@gobble allows for an argument. I believe that the definition of the macro is \long\def\@gobble#1{}. Why is this argument ...
11
votes
2answers
252 views

Why is \newcount declared \outer?

I'm a user primarily of Plain TeX. Lately I get annoyed about the \outer nature of \newcount, especially when I write macros which require temporary internal variables, variables which really need not ...
11
votes
3answers
392 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
2answers
692 views

How are curly braces used?

In TeX, the same characters (namely, { and }) are used for grouping and to define macros (\def{...}). I think that this is because it can be distinguished from context which one is which. So, ...
11
votes
3answers
223 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
3answers
455 views

Making register declarations local, Undefining a register (count, toks, etc.)

Is it possible to make \newcount, \newtoks, etc. respect grouping, so that, e.g., \newcount\temp\temp=2{\newcount\temp\temp=1}\showthe\temp gives 2 (instead of 0)? Relatedly, is it possible to ...
11
votes
1answer
207 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
4answers
138 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
3answers
564 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
273 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
2answers
195 views

Is it possible to define a dotted version of `\vrule`?

The \vrule primitive has a nice charcateristic: it has the ability of adapting itself to the height and depth of the enclosing box: \documentclass{article} ...
11
votes
2answers
311 views

Determining the math class of a non-keyboard symbol

What is the "right" way of determining the math class (e.g. ordinary/0, relation/3, closing/5, etc.) of a non-keyboard symbol? Something like \oplus is easy enough to guess, but I wasn't immediately ...
11
votes
1answer
158 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
2answers
285 views

What is the difference between assigning and \def

What is the syntax difference between these two assignments (basically) \arraycolsep=1mm \def\arraystretch{0.7} What are the fundamental differences of the command \arraycolsep and \arraystretch ...
11
votes
1answer
264 views

What is the difference between a typesetting language and a markup language

I remember, I read some article in a technical journal where the author drew the attention on the reader on a lot of people confusing typesetting languages and markup languages. How can I surely tell ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Minimum length of last line of a paragraph

There is a more or less equivalent question to this: Ensure minimal length of last line, but I absolutely need a TeX solution. I more or less stumbled upon the problem mentioned in the discussion of ...
11
votes
1answer
850 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
194 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
2answers
161 views

\prevdepth and \noalign

In The TeXBook it says The value of \prevdepth at the time of the \halign is used at the beginning of the internal vertical list, and the final value of \prevdepth is carried to the enclosing ...
11
votes
1answer
203 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
120 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
591 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
114 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
169 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
426 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
260 views

How to install or replace fonts in old TeX files?

I got interested in a research paper from 1991, which I cannot get an electronic online version of. The author was kind enough to send me his tex sources, but is himself unable to produce a pdf file ...
11
votes
2answers
209 views

What combinations of mode and \currentgrouptype exist?

I am trying to predict in any given situation what TeX does if a closing brace reaches its stomach (apart from reverting local assignments). For instance, \vbox{\tracingall H} shows that if it is in ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Newline/linebreak in \message

I want to prompt some messages to my console. I used \message{Hi out there!} Now i want some more Text but with an linebreak. \message{Hello World %some line break here Salut monde } Well i ...
11
votes
1answer
238 views

vbox disappearing inside hbox

I don't understand why a vbox disappears when it's surrounded by two \hss, for instance in: \hbox to 0pt{\hss abc\hss} \hbox to 0pt{\hss\vtop{def}\hss}% doesn't work \hbox to 0pt{\vtop{ghi}\hss}% ...
11
votes
2answers
190 views

Is there any reason to define a zero-argument macro using a starred defining command?

Is there any reason to define a 0-argument (read: zero-argument) macro with a starred command (\newcommand* instead of \newcommand or \DeclareRobustCommand* instead of \DeclareRobustCommand)? After ...
11
votes
1answer
977 views

Trapping LaTeX error/warning

Is there a way to trap an error/warning in LaTeX during compile time? I'm thinking of something similar to the VB script On Error Goto <blah>, but this time for LaTeX in something like ...
11
votes
1answer
109 views

Why does \moveleft not contribute to width but \moveright does?

Consider example1: \setbox1=\vbox{ \moveleft 1pt \vbox{\hrule width 4pt height 10pt depth 0pt} \hrule width 4pt height 10pt depth 0pt } \showbox1 The output: \vbox(20.0+0.0)x4.0 ...
11
votes
1answer
160 views

How many different concepts of “token equivalence” are there in TeX?

I was living in the delusion that the "token equality" tested by \ifx was the only thing you need to remember about this subject, but this week I learned otherwise (thanks to David Carlisle). Now ...
11
votes
2answers
104 views

split off function for variable as separator

How/Possible to change this implementation of \xSplit so that the separator is a variable filled in at the time of definition (\edef somehow?) or at the actual use of the command?? %based on the ...
11
votes
2answers
371 views

Starting point for getting more familiar with TeX/LaTex etc

Background: I've been using what I would call LaTex for ~4 yrs to typeset assignments, reports, essays and tutorial notes. I have been using "TexShop" (for Macs) - mostly because it was simple when I ...
11
votes
1answer
132 views

Measure total glue in a box

Someone gives me a box, and my goal is to know as much as possible about the amount of glue inside that box. I can assume that the box is not huge, but it may contain arbitrary stuff (so I cannot ...
10
votes
3answers
439 views

Why is tex designed to render spaces around brackets?

When I wrote following lines: \section{Introduction}{ Content in introduction ... } Unwanted space comes before Content as warned. I understand it's due to some technical decision in tex. But I ...
10
votes
4answers
595 views

Extract first, last and rest of tokens

This question is related to Extract first & last characters of macro argument?. It seems that if, besides getting first and last tokens, one wants to accumulate the rest of the tokens, the ...
10
votes
2answers
349 views

All (La)TeX warnings and errors

For testing purposes, I am looking for a comprehensive list of all errors and warnings that TeX, and LaTeX can output. I don't mean errors and warnings produced by all packages, as this would give an ...
10
votes
4answers
198 views

# in conditionals in alignment tabs?

I am looking for ideas how to make TeX understand that when # appears both in the if-else and in the else-fi part of a conditional in an alignment tab, in the end there will never be more than one # ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Force the expansion of a macro parameter without \edef or \xdef

Two days I am looking for a solution but I have no more idea. This is my problem. I'm trying to create a macro to automatically define new other macros to write references in a document. I want to ...