How to distinguish one of them from the other? Any help will be highly appreciated

  • Usually by name and/or by purpose. Only half-joking, too, see the al­ter­na­tive LaTeX class(es) on CTAN if you are interested in more than the base .cls files (notably: article.cls, letter.cls, report.cls, book.cls -- though there are others).
    – jon
    Jan 24 '17 at 7:14

According to the official documentation file clsguide, standard classes include a line like

\ProvidesClass{article}[1994/06/01 Standard LaTeX class]

which prints 1994/06/01 Standard LaTeX class in the .log file (the current version is actually 2014/09/29 v1.4h). The important part is the phrase "Standard LaTeX", since the clsguide documentations also states

The phrase Standard LaTeX must not be used in the identification banner of any file other than those in the standard LATEX distribution.

You will find the standard classes in the base directory of your distribution ...texmf-dist/tex/latex/base/. For texlive 2016 this contains

article.cls letter.cls  ltxdoc.cls  minimal.cls report.cls
book.cls    ltnews.cls  ltxguide.cls    proc.cls    slides.cls

all of which are labelled as Standard LaTeX.

  • I didn't check, but it seems the clsguide needs updating.
    – Johannes_B
    Jan 24 '17 at 10:15
  • @Johannes_B Can you elaborate? Jan 24 '17 at 11:01
  • I can't check since i am on my phone, but didnt the standard classes get an update in 2014?
    – Johannes_B
    Jan 24 '17 at 11:08
  • 1
    @Johannes_B The date was not meant to be specific, just an example of the type of line. Answer reworded. Jan 24 '17 at 11:31

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