# How do I insert asterisks to start a line of pmatrix other than the first?

Here's a minimal working example:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\begin{document}
$\begin{pmatrix}\\*\end{pmatrix}$
\end{document}


This produces () with no asterisk. I find that if I do the following:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\begin{document}
$\begin{pmatrix}\\**\end{pmatrix}$
\end{document}


then I get what I want. Why is this so, and what is the correct way to get an asterisk as the first entry in the second line of a pmatrix?

• $\begin{pmatrix}\\\relax*\end{pmatrix}$. \\ is a command which has a starred form, so \\* is a variation of \\, thus the first * is consumed. The \relax prevents \\ from seeing the *. – Phelype Oleinik Feb 3 at 22:14
• @PhelypeOleinik, what is the meaning of the stared double slash? – Sigur Feb 3 at 22:15
• @Sigur Since \\ is a command, it can be redefined (and it is, a lot). In this case, in a pmatrix (or other matrices, or in tabular) the * does nothing different. The starred for is just kept for compatibility with other usages of \\. In plain text the * avoids a page break between the lines broken by \\. – Phelype Oleinik Feb 3 at 22:32

In general, the \\ command accepts a *-variant and an optional argument to add vertical spacing after the new line.

\\
\\*
\\[1ex]
\\*[1ex]


are all valid calls. The purpose of \\* is to avoid a page break. While it doesn't make sense to avoid a page break in the middle of a matrix (LaTeX would never do it), the syntax is kept in all situations.

However, in amsmath environments, placing the * on a different line than \\ will not interpret the asterisk in the way explained above.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\begin{document}
$\begin{pmatrix} *\\*\end{pmatrix}$
$\begin{pmatrix} * \\ * \end{pmatrix}$

\end{document}


If you want to input the matrix in one line, you have to somehow separate \\ and *. A \relax will do, so

$\begin{pmatrix} *\\ \relax *\end{pmatrix}$


will print the matrix exactly as the second one in the image above. Blanks won't do, instead.

The same problem would present if you want to start a matrix row after the first with [.