Is it possible to let (La)TeX search and replace text in a macro during compile time? For example, given

\newcommand{\sometext}{a b c d e f g}

I'd like to have something like

\searchreplace{\sometext}{b c}{x


that would result in

a x

y d e f g

Ideally this would work with replacing macros, like

\searchreplace{hi {\itshape there}}{\itshape}{\bfseries}

that then would produce (and interpret)

hi {\bfseries there}
  • 2
    First, I know that this is only an example, but please do not ever use \bf or \it in LaTeX---use \bfseries and \itshape. Second, do you mean something like what the package xpatch does? ctan.org/pkg/xpatch – yo' Aug 30 '15 at 5:55
  • There seems little benefit when supplying something verbatim that requires a change; the question there would be "Why not just change whatever you want right there...?". It's more likely you'd like to search-and-replace inside something "unknown" like a macro. That's a major difference between your first and second examples. – Werner Aug 30 '15 at 6:02
  • yo - I changed the example. Maybe I tried to make it too short :) – TeXter Aug 30 '15 at 7:19
  • Werner - The original macro is sourced from another file I do not have under control, and that needs minimal tweaks when used in multiple other files. Otherwise I would have asked my text editor to do the job :) – TeXter Aug 30 '15 at 7:22

etoolbox provides exactly this functionality via \patchcmd{<cmd>}{<search>}{<replace>}{<success>}{<failure>}, where it searches for <search> in <cmd> and replaces it with <replace>, executing <success> if the search-and-replace was successful, otherwise <failure>.

The following uses an elementary parameter passing to \patchcmd:

enter image description here



% \patchcmd{<cmd>}{<search>}{<replace>}{<success>}{<failure>}


\newcommand{\sometext}{a b c d e f g}


\searchreplace{\sometext}{b c}{x




It would be advisable to also include \tracingpatches in order to make sure (via the .log) what went wrong if a patch wasn't successful.

You may run into problems with certain macros, for which your go-to alternative would be xpatch. Of course, other options also exist (using, for example, regexpatch).

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