What is the best practice for separating the preamble to a dedicated file?

I've seen two variants:

  1. A package: preamble.sty and \usepackage{preamble}
  2. A .tex file: preamble.tex and \input{preamble}

Which one is to be preferred?

  • To be honest, the one that you like best :-) Either way is ok and good practice, though i prefer to write my own packages (with options and stuff). Having said that, if you want to implement any options, write a package :-) – Johannes_B Sep 2 '14 at 20:06
  • I think the package version is logically more consistent, although in the absence of options the definition of \usepackage is more or less \input{#1.sty} so it doesn't make any difference in practice. – David Carlisle Sep 2 '14 at 20:12
  • Definitely the separate .sty file option: In a style file that's loaded with a \usepackage statement, the @ ("at") character is immediately of category "letter", which makes all those \makeatletter and \makeatother statements unnecessary. – Mico Sep 2 '14 at 20:21

My opinion mostly:

Preamble commands that add functionality to the document (e.g., defining macros) belong in a package (.sty file).

Preamble commands that define the look of the document (paper geometry, page headers, font selections), belong in a custom document class (.cls file). You can use high-level LaTeX commands to derive a custom class from a standard-issue class, and pass options to it.

See Style/class tutorials for examples of both.

| improve this answer | |
  • Is it ok to place .sty files in the local folder next to the .tex document (if it contains really document-specific code) or should .sty files always be in the appropriate TEXMFHOME subfolder? – Tim Hoffmann Sep 17 '14 at 20:30
  • @TimHoffmann: either are perfectly acceptable. But if you are putting auxiliary code in a package you will probably want to use it more than once. That suggests a central location. – Matthew Leingang Sep 18 '14 at 0:47

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