Q: How can I best search the web for exact LaTeX commands (e.g., \show as opposed to show)?

It appears that Google will not allow us to escape the \ character. So, searches for \show are interpreted as show. Needless to say, results would be tremendously more helpful if the search were interpreted as the former. (note: "\show" doesn't help either)

Q: Has anyone had success searching LaTeX commands using other search engine? More generally, does anyone know of search engines that are particularly well-suited for searching non-standard characters?

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    Related are this question, this question, this question.
    – Lev Bishop
    Feb 24, 2011 at 1:21
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    @Lev: Thanks for providing those links. It would be even more helpful if you would put the question titles in the links. That way readers will know what the links are about. Feb 24, 2011 at 2:03
  • @Matthew: It's too late to edit the comment now, but you can see the titles in the "Linked" section on the right :)
    – Lev Bishop
    Feb 24, 2011 at 4:31
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    Note that \show is a TeX primitive defined by the underlying TeX engine itself and not by any package (or LaTeX for that matter). So it is not a good example for search LaTeX commands. Feb 24, 2011 at 7:42
  • You can download a bunch of LaTeX files and search them yourself, like in github.com/amacfie/mathtext
    – Andrew
    Sep 2, 2020 at 15:54

5 Answers 5


Google code search will let you search by regular expression and, if you like, restrict your search to TeX/LaTeX source files only.

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    this is very useful. I never knew it existed. In my case, \\show\\ did the trick. The problem that remains: Google Code Search searches code and not general websites. The purpose of my search is to find help on the command \show. The discussions from general websites are more likely to provide this than code in which I find occurrences of \show.
    – lowndrul
    Feb 24, 2011 at 2:12
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    People are probably already aware of this by now, but just for completeness: google.com/codesearch, for some time now, shows "Sadly, this service has been shut down."
    – sdaau
    Jun 20, 2012 at 1:33

Regarding your question about searching LaTeX using other search engines: the LaTeX search engine of Springer lets you search for commands and even complex expressions within archived LaTeX source code. For example, it has been useful to find out where the symbol \between has been used.

  • Bookmarked! That is so cool and useful.
    – lowndrul
    Feb 24, 2011 at 16:49
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    Well, useful for finding instances of a particular macro being used. Not so useful for finding correct uses of that macro. It is truly a great source of examples of how NOT to do stuff in (La)TeX. IMHO, that site really needs a gigantic disclaimer saying "Don't do this to your own documents". If the snippets were only wrong in the "not optimal" sense, it might be useful, but sadly, that is not the case.
    – Villemoes
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:49
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    Hello @StefanKottwitz I noticed that the latex search engine is no longer available. Do you know an alternative? I know searchonmath, but this will be not free from 21th of february. I need to find a specific formula. Feb 13, 2022 at 16:16
  • @GennaroArguzzi Thank you for the news! I wish it was better. You can ask for coding of a specific formula here or on LaTeX.org.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Feb 13, 2022 at 20:28

My standard search phrase is "tex latex <cmd>." For instance, googling "tex latex show" leads me to a the "ltxcmds" page from the TeX FAQ.

  • latex show macro also seems to find good results
    – Mortimer
    Feb 24, 2011 at 9:04

If you want to search on this site (which is overwhelmingly likely if you are reading this answer), you can use Data.SE to do "symbol search".

Adapting rene's answer on Meta.SO you can use this query to search for "\show" in particular.

Note that SQL is complicated and has some quirks e.g. you need to escape the characters [_% if you use LIKE operator.

Also I searched in the rendered HTML body, which works well in most but not all cases. In any case, for more complicated cases you need to learn SQL to use the full power of it.

Remark: in this particular case there appears to be no question on \show in particular, nevertheless refer to Where do I find out how a command/environment is defined? and you can find the documentation in either TeXbook or TeX by Topic.


You can use this site: http://detexify.kirelabs.org/classify.html

This site is really handy as you can just draw the symbol and it guesses perfectly.

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    Welcome, doesn't really answer the question of how to find information on \show and other commands.
    – Johannes_B
    Dec 4, 2015 at 8:35
  • It answers the later part of the question.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Dec 4, 2015 at 9:11
  • @StefanKottwitz No it doesn't, because that part asks for how to search for non-standard characters, not how to draw them.
    – Sverre
    Dec 4, 2015 at 11:02
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    @Sverre: Not how to draw them. But it answers "searching LaTeX commands ... for ... non-standard characters", because in DeTeXify you paint something to search for a command and DeTeXify outputs the LaTeX command for the symbol / character. It's a different approach to text search, but nevertheless a search engine for LaTeX commands.
    – Stefan Kottwitz
    Dec 4, 2015 at 16:08

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