Here is my code:

{ \texttt \input{bar.txt} }

This produces the output:

Foo bar.txt Baz

I was expecting this output instead:

Foo <content of bar.txt> Baz

where <content of bar.txt> contains the actual content of the file named bar.txt.

I understand that my code is incorrect and I know it can be fixed like this:

\texttt{ \input{bar.txt} }

or like this:

{\ttfamily \input{bar.txt}}

But I want to know why my incorrect code ended up producing the literal text bar.txt in the output instead of the content of the file bar.txt?

  • 2
    You probably want {\ttfamily\input{bar.txt}} – egreg May 25 '18 at 19:07
  • Just do \meaning\texttt to see where that argument ends up (which in your first case is just the same as \texttt{\input}). – Manuel May 25 '18 at 19:08
  • @Manuel When I change the code to { \meaning\texttt \input{bar.txt} }, I get this in the output: Foo macro:-¿“protect “texttt Bar Baz. – Lone Learner May 25 '18 at 19:09
  • @Manuel If my code was interpreted as \texttt{\input} why do I not see the text \input appearing literally in the output? – Lone Learner May 25 '18 at 19:11
  • @LoneLearner Sorry, but it doesn't work that easy, so forget it. I meant to show you a method to check yourself what happens and why things end up where they are. – Manuel May 25 '18 at 19:16

the braces around a TeX macro argument may always be omitted if the argument is a single token. \fbox{a} may be written \fbox a


\texttt \input{bar.txt}



which is (modulo some checking not relevant here)

{\ttfamily \input}{bar.txt}

so a group starts, the font is switched then TeX starts to process \input it then inputs the file .tex which does nothing other than make a warning message that it does nothing. On the terminal you see

(/home/davidc/texmf/tex/latex/tools/.tex File ignored)

Then the } closes the group so no text is set in tt font. Finally the {} around bar.txt are taken as a group, not argument delimiters, and bar.txt is typeset in the document font.

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