If I have a command in the form

\newcommand{\TM}[1]{\color{red} $\boldsymbol{#1}$}

how can I call it with an optional parameter for color? What I want is that if it's called like


it should return a red alpha but if it's called as


the alpha's color should be green.

  • Well, this is very well-known: \newcommand{\TM}[2][red]{{\color{#1}$#2$}} (or, better, \newcommand*{\TM}[2][red]{{\color{#1}$#2$}}). Note the additional pair of braces (this is unrelated to your question, though)!
    – GuM
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 2:26
  • @Gustavo Could you explian what is "unrelated" to the question? It is unclear to me, as Latex remains often unclear doing the job well.
    – pzorba75
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 3:35
  • The extra pair of curly brackets will stop the rest of your document turning red. But this is unrelated to your question.
    – cfr
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


An optional parameter is defined by adding a [<opt>] after defining the number of arguments:

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Note that it's not always a good idea to include math formatting within a command, since it will cause errors if used inside math. For this, LaTeX provides \ensuremath.

To circumvent this, I've used \textcolor{<colour>}{<stuff>} which necessarily puts <stuff> in text mode. As such, a switch to math mode would be okay.

  • 1
    \textcolor doesn't actually force text mode (blame the author of the color package;-) Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 12:04

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