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Why does LaTeX macro spells \LaTeX{} (which requires 3x presses and 2x releases of Shift) and not \latex{} (which can be typed w/o Shift)?

Same about \TeX{} macro of course.

The current spelling seems counter-productive w/o any pros, unless I am missing something.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Mico, Ian Thompson, user13907, user31729, barbara beeton Sep 24 '14 at 21:23

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    How often do you use it? If very often, define your own \let\latex\LaTeX and/or \let\tex\TeX; this question doesn't really seem all that helpful, in my opinion. – Werner Sep 24 '14 at 19:49
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    \TeX is a trademark and a logo. see Is TeX as word and logo a trade mark? – barbara beeton Sep 24 '14 at 20:56
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    Please don't downvote below a score of -1, even if the question in its current form needs some improvement. A score of -1 is enough to show that the question needs work, anything below that is of no use. – cfr Sep 24 '14 at 22:11
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    @ajeh - Your question starts with "Why". Short of having the original creator of the macro that typesets the logo provide some insights into his/her thinking, there is no way to avoid any discussion of this subject becoming guesswork and opinion-mongering. – Mico Sep 25 '14 at 5:20
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    @cfr -- actually, i agree with the reasoning that the question is opinion based; that's one reason i'm not trying to write an answer, only comments. one last conjecture ... tex input is text, not highly coded in the sense of x/html. so it's logical to think that one might want the source file to be human readable, and having the typescript for what's basically text look as much like the output isn't a bad goal. as tugboat editor, i happen to have the source files for some rather old material. in an article submitted by lamport, in 6:3 (1985; p.150), the source contains \LaTeX. – barbara beeton Sep 25 '14 at 19:46
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There is no other reason than

Because that's the correct capitalization.

TeX is so written to denote that, in the official logo, the capital E is lowered. Similarly, the A in the official LaTeX logo is raised, but there is no intuitive way to denote 'raising' with letter case, so we lowercase it. Thus, \TeX and \LaTeX.

From the TeXbook (ch.1, p.1):

The correct way to refer to [\TeX] in a computer file, or when using some other medium that doesn’t allow lowering of the 'E', is to type 'TeX'.


The issue has been raised that, despite TeX being the official logo of the technology, TeX is a language that is rooted in the idea of markup. There is no hard-and-fast rule for the markup that it provides—what is laid out on the page isn't required to be (and usually isn't) representative of what's used as input. For example,

\textsc{This is small caps text.}

This does not strictly resemble small caps, but the logical idea is there. Another example,

\includegraphics[width=2.\linewidth]{example-image-a}

This certainly does not look like what gets put on the page, but this is okay. TeX is a markup language and it is comprised of instructions to a typesetter rather than a crude mock-up of the final product (which is the usual approach to word processing).

The important thing to note here is that TeX was also designed to be readable. While the desired output would be far clearer from a markup point of view to use

\[ f^\prime(x) = x^2 \]

or even the ridiculous, MathML-esque

\[ \equality{\function{f}{1}{x}}{\exponent{x}{2}} \]

With this kind of syntax, TeX would have never taken off. Wherever possible/reasonable considering the limits of plain text, input syntax is geared to resemble output:

\[ f'(x) = x^2 \]

Thus, we have \TeX and \LaTeX instead of \tex and \latex as the reasonable representation and thus the input syntax.

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    @ajeh I would rather type \LaTeX than write L\kern -.36em{\sbox \z@ T\vbox to\ht \z@ {\hobx {\check@mathfonts \fontsize \sf@size \z@ \math@fontsfalse \selectfont A}\vss }}\kern -.15em T\kern -.1667em\lower .5ex\hbox {E}\kern -.125emX – Sean Allred Sep 24 '14 at 20:05
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    @ajeh Unless you're willing to learn the TeX primitives and look at their C sources, you should trust that the above macro is extremely efficient. Long when humans look at it, but extremely efficient. Advocating for LaTeX is often done by examples of its output and the workflow that went into it. The logo has nothing to do with it. (Try replicating Microsoft Word's logo in Word. Does that mean it's hard to advocate for the use of Word?) – Sean Allred Sep 24 '14 at 20:10
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    @ajeh: You should try to sue Leslie Lamport for compensation once you get Tenosynovitis from pressing the shift key all the time. ;-) – Fritz Sep 24 '14 at 20:11
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    @SeanAllred --- and who might the downvoter be I wonder? – Ian Thompson Sep 24 '14 at 21:30
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    @cfr Macro naming is due to Knuth. There is nothing more to it. That's why it's opinion based. – percusse Sep 24 '14 at 22:47

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