I was trying to make a section style with uppercase fonts and color. But when I use \MakeUppercase like

\renewcommand{\@seccntformat}[1]{{\textcolor{purple}{\csname the#1\endcsname}\hspace{1em}}}                    
{-4ex \@plus -1ex \@minus -.4ex}
{1ex \@plus.2ex }

The following errors are shown

Argument of \@declaredcolor has an extra }. \section{}
  • 1
    Welcome to TeX.SE! Try swapping \MakeUppercase and \color{purple} on the last line: {\normalfont\large\sffamily\bfseries\color{purple}\MakeUppercase}. All of \normalfont, \large, \sffamily, \bfseries, and \color{purple} are switches (i.e. their effect last until the current scope ends) while \MakeUppercase is a macro that takes one argument, so the way the sectioning commands work, the command which takes one argument must be last. Feb 12, 2019 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


If you swap the order of \MakeUppercase and \color{purple} it works. Internally, the sectioning commands do (approximately) this:

<formatting>{\@seccntformat{<number>} <title>}

where <formatting> is the last argument of \@startsection, <number> is the section number and <title>, you guessed, the title :)

If we do like you suggested, \section{hello} becomes:

\normalfont\large\sffamily\bfseries\MakeUppercase\color{purple}{1 hello}

(\@seccntformat is not important right now). Try running the above and you'll see the same error. That happens because \MakeUppercase grabs \color as argument and when \color tries to do its thing it won't find the droids color name it was looking for and chaos will ensue. But if you swap the order it works :)

\normalfont\large\sffamily\bfseries\color{purple}\MakeUppercase{1 hello}

But now you'll get another error:

! Package xcolor Error: Undefined color `PURPLE'.

but why?! Remember the \@seccntformat back then? You had:

<formatting>{\@seccntformat{<number>} <title>}

when <formatting> contains \MakeUppercase and \@seccntformat contains \textcolor{purple}{<number>}, then you have:

\MakeUppercase{\textcolor{purple}{<number>} <title>}

which will \MakeUppercase before \textcolor is executed:

{\textcolor{PURPLE}{<NUMBER>} <TITLE>}

Yes, the NUMBER too :)

But you don't need that. The counter is used after the \color{purple}, so it will already be coloured. You can remove that and the number will be purple too. If you take that out, your definition of \@seccntformat is identical to LaTeX's one, so you can remove it altogether.

After all this the output is:

enter image description here




% \renewcommand{\@seccntformat}[1]{\csname the#1\endcsname\hspace{1em}} == default :)
{-4ex \@plus -1ex \@minus -.4ex}
{1ex \@plus.2ex }



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