I am using counters to save positive integers, something like that:


Is there any limit in the value I can save in a counter, in this case mycountervalue? And what is the exact limit?

Thanks! I do not want to get an unexpected overflow.

  • 1
    I would say 2^31-1 with e-TeX extensions – user31729 Oct 1 '15 at 13:04
  • Thaks for your quick answer! Well, I am not using e-TeX extensions... – loved.by.Jesus Oct 1 '15 at 13:08
  • 1
    @loved.by.Jesus are you sure? That would be quite strange nowadays. A modern LaTeX kernel assumes etex available, many packages do as well. – cgnieder Oct 1 '15 at 13:22
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    @loved.by.Jesus: I confused the e-TeX extensions with the register range. The register range hasn't change, but the numbers of registers have increased. – user31729 Oct 1 '15 at 13:28
  • @clemens: I had no idea what e-TeX was :-\, thanks for your explanation. – loved.by.Jesus Oct 1 '15 at 13:33

The maximum value is the 'usual' 2^31-1 long integer value, as well as the negative range from -2^31, so the full range is 2^32 integers possible.

2^31-1 is 2147483647, which is the largest possible integer usable for counters or \ifnum and \numexpr codes.

In the code below I stored this number to the counter \mycounter and print it several times after using \stepcounter. After the first \stepcounter the register overflows and the number is set to -2147483648, being the 'largest' negative number possible. A subsequent \stepcounter works normally then.

The e-TeX standard extended the limit of 256 registers (count, skip etc.) to 32568 possible registers (for each type)





\themycounter  % prints 2147483647 

\stepcounter{mycounter}  % Now the overflow will occur

\themycounter % prints -2147483648


\themycounter % -2147483647

enter image description here

  • 1
    Hey that is a nice coded answer! You got it. – loved.by.Jesus Oct 1 '15 at 13:13
  • @loved.by.Jesus: You're welcome – user31729 Oct 1 '15 at 13:19

According to The TEXbook:

TEX has 256 registers called \count0 to \count255, each capable of containing integers between -2147483647 and +2147483647, inclusive; i.e., the magnitudes should be less than 231.

  • 4
    A very minor detail: The minimal possible value of a counter is -2147483648=-2^{31}, not -2147483647. (There are 2^{32} integers between -2147483648 and +2147483647...) – Mico Oct 10 '15 at 14:52

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