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I saw an argument in a file that displayed:

\usepackage[table,xcdraw]{xcolor}

I am a bit confused what is getting parsed into which. It seems that the material in [] are usually options for xcolor. But in this case they are packages. What does this mean exactly?

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It seems that the material in [] are usually options for xcolor.

That's correct.

But in this case they are packages.

  • I'm not aware of LaTeX packages called table or xcdraw.

  • The option table instructs LaTeX to load the colortbl package in a way that maximizes its compatibility with the xcolor package. Aside: It's a mistake to load the xcolor and colortbl packages independently.

    For more information, see Table 1 in the user guide of the xcolor package.

  • Quoting from p. 23 of the package's user guide: If the option xcdraw is set, PostScript commands will be used to draw frames and color boxes if the dvips driver is set, while PDF code will be used if the document is compiled with pdftex or dvipdfm. The opposite of xcdraw is noxcdraw; it's the default. If noxcdraw is in effect, driver-independent code is used to draw frames and color boxes.

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