# How to check if command is used more than once?

I want LaTeX to throw an error message if I use a command more than once in a file.

This is allowed

\documentclass{article}

\newcommand{\mycommand}{Test}

\begin{document}

\mycommand

\end{document}


This is should throw an error message

\documentclass{article}

\newcommand{\mycommand}{Test}

\begin{document}

\mycommand

\mycommand

\end{document}

• – Werner Jan 17 '18 at 22:29

Let the command redefine itself:

\documentclass{article}

\newcommand\myCommandOnce{%
Test%
\renewcommand\myCommandOnce{\GenericError{}
{Error: \string\myCommandOnce\space used twice!}
{Command was setup to be usable only once}{}}%
}
\newcommand{\mycommand}{Test}

\begin{document}

\myCommandOnce
\myCommandOnce

\mycommand
\mycommand

\end{document}


If you intend to create many of those commands, you can use the following. I created a small/stupid wrapper around \newcommand which inserts the redefining part after the rest of the specified definition. My code might not be well looking and I guess that more experienced LaTeX users would create it differently.

The name of the wrapper macro is \newonetimecommand and it accepts the same arguments like \newcommand plus an ! as its first optional argument. If the exclamation mark is given, the command is globally usable only once.

EDIT: The below code is changed from the original version, because the optional processor didn't work. As a result, only macros with arguments were possible. Now I use O{\use:c{c_novalue_tl}} instead of o. The result is just something which is very unlikely to be inserted and checked with a \str_if_eq:nnTF.

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{xparse}

\ExplSyntaxOn
\cs_set_protected:Nn \my_optional_processor:n
{
\str_if_eq:nnTF { #1 } { \use:c { c_novalue_tl } }
{ \def \ProcessedArgument {} }
{ \def \ProcessedArgument { [#1] } }
}
\ExplSyntaxOff
\newcommand*\MyStarredProcessor[1]{%
\IfBooleanTF{#1}
{\def\ProcessedArgument{*}}
{\def\ProcessedArgument{}}}
\ExplSyntaxOn
\NewDocumentCommand{\newonetimecommand}
{ t!
>{\MyStarredProcessor}s
m
>{\my_optional_processor:n}O{ \use:c { c_novalue_tl } }
>{\my_optional_processor:n}+O{ \use:c { c_novalue_tl } }
+m }{%
\newcommand#2#3#4#5{%
#6%
\IfBooleanTF{#1}{\gdef}{\def}#3{%
\GenericError{}
{Error:~\string#3~used~twice!}
{Command~was~setup~to~be~usable~only~once}{}%
}%
}}
\ExplSyntaxOff

\newonetimecommand*\myCommandOnce[1][]{Test%
\if\relax\detokenize{#1}\relax\else\ #1\fi}
\newonetimecommand!*\myCommandReallyOnce[1][]{Test%
\if\relax\detokenize{#1}\relax\else\ #1\fi}
\newonetimecommand\foo{Test}
\newcommand{\mycommand}{Test}

\begin{document}

{\myCommandOnce}
\myCommandOnce

{\myCommandReallyOnce}
%\myCommandReallyOnce

\mycommand
\mycommand

\foo

\end{document}

• Yes, I do intend to create many of those commands. Great edit! – Sr. Schneider Jan 17 '18 at 19:58
• @Sr.Schneider I made a very important edit to the code I provided in my edit. It is just one additional character (+) but is really important for the macro. If the + is not present, you can't specify macros which include a \par (or two consecutive newlines) in their definition. – Skillmon likes topanswers.xyz Jan 17 '18 at 22:28

You can use

\newcommand{\mycommand}{%
\renewcommand{\mycommand}{\PackageError{mypkg}{two mycommands}{read the documentation}}%
Test}


If you need the redefinition to be global, so that you may not have two \newcommand even in separate environments then

\newcommand{\mycommand}{%
\gdef\mycommand{\PackageError{mypkg}{two mycommands}{read the documentation}}%
Test}