I am trying to use square brackets at the very beginning of an item in an enumerate statement (but not as the item label itself). So, I want something like:

\item [Short term] blah blah

To show up as:

1. [Short term] blah blah

Instead it shows up as:

Short term blah blah

without any indenting.

What is going wrong and how can I fix this?


1 Answer 1


Your problem is that latex is interpreting your square brackets as an argument to \item (even though there is a space in between) and using the text inside as the item label instead of preceding your other text with the square brackets.

You can fix this by adding curly braces around the square brackets:

\item {[Short term]} blah blah

which will produce:

1. [Short term] blah blah

Don't put a tilde (~) between the item and the brackets, because this would add an extra space in the formatted text.

\item~[Short term] blah blah

will produce

1.  [Short term] blah blah
   foo foo foo
  • 2
    Please, don't recommend the use of ~ since as you mentioned it will affect the left alignment when compared with other items.
    – Sigur
    Jul 10, 2015 at 7:00
  • @Sigur Good point - I changed the text slightly to say don't put the ~.
    – Nathan S.
    Jul 10, 2015 at 7:14
  • Good. I also added a new line to the code to show what you mean.
    – Sigur
    Jul 10, 2015 at 7:19
  • i find it cleaner to put the {} before instead of around the text, \item {}[Short term] blah blah
    – peter
    Nov 29, 2020 at 13:51

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