I'm writing a program to manipulate LaTeX and I'd like to have access to some standard terminology. For example, is there a standard name for a string of the form \abcd, or \textbf{...} vs {\bf ...} (in terms of the syntactical structure, not what the actually do)? Names for arguments in square brackets vs. the curly brackets (I've taken to calling them 'options' and 'parameters' but I have no idea if this is correct)? Does the \documentclass{} statment have a special name? That sort of thing.

I know that there is no context-free-grammar but I would like to find something that has a hierarchical naming convention for parts of LaTeX files, as well as some naming convention for the 'atoms' of LaTeX.

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    Have a look at source2e.pdf. – Johannes_B Oct 28 '16 at 22:43
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    This question is very broad. You don't want "to read 100 pages to extract the terminology", but your requests seems to ask for reference manuals (which aren't always a short read). Specific to your question at hand, \abcd, \textbf and \bf are called control sequences, but are informally referred to as macros. \abcd is a parameter-less macro, while \textbf takes one mandatory argument (as opposed to the optional kind in square brackets). \bf is also sometimes referred to as a switch since it provides font-related changes. – Werner Oct 28 '16 at 22:44
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    As a start for a reference, read The TeX Book and TeX by Topic for some in-depth discussions and terminology. If this seems a bit much, read TeX for the Impatient. – Werner Oct 28 '16 at 22:47
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    What the question is lacking so far, is the understanding between the difference of LaTeX and TeX. – Johannes_B Oct 28 '16 at 22:48
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    For the LaTeX kernel as a user I'd say Lamport's LaTeX: A Document Preparation System is the definitive guide, but the moment you add packages that's not longer the case ... – Joseph Wright Oct 29 '16 at 10:57

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