Can I use xparse e-type arguments to redefine how subscripts and superscripts work for a command (e.g., make \mybeta put all sub/super scripts in parens)? I tried defining


And it seems to work fine if I place them in the order the arguments are specified but not when I try


where I get a double subscript warning when I want $\beta^{(n)}_{(s)}$

I'm guessing that maybe I need to use e{_^} as the argument specification but if I do that how do I tell the _ and ^ arguments apart or recover them? Or is there a different/better way I should be going about this and I've misunderstood the embellishments entirely?

  • Use 'e{_^}' to specify the embellishments. It should "just work." Sep 5, 2020 at 1:38
  • Huh, it does. That's so weird...so you never use multiple e arguments in specifying your command. Sep 5, 2020 at 1:41
  • @PeterGerdes We tried a few ways to express how to have 'mixed order' arguments: the e{_^} one was by far the best
    – Joseph Wright
    Sep 5, 2020 at 8:14
  • @JosephWright It's perfectly clear now that I understand it but I just assumed that it would be written as e{_}e{^} rather than e{_^} and I got lost when I tried to dig through the code. Thanks for your reply and the excellent work on xparse. I really love NDC Sep 6, 2020 at 9:09
  • @JosephWright By the way is there any easy way to do arbitrary order delimited arguments, e.g., suppose I have exactly one ( ) argument and want it to be picked up wherever it appears. I don't suppose there is an easy way to do this (or the embellishments wouldn't be limited to picking up just the next unit (group? token?). And yes I know that's usually a bad idea but I'm translating math notation that already uses brackets, Sep 6, 2020 at 9:21

2 Answers 2


The solution is, as you predicted, to use e{_^} in your argument specification. The order of the embellishments doesn’t matter. And yes, it’s amazing that it works!

  • Not quite what I predicted. I'd assumed that each e specification corresponded to one argument so e{_^} would scoop up whatever follows either an ^ or _ and assign it to #1. Guess not. Thanks , this is super useful. I'll leave my answer up since you commented on it. Sep 5, 2020 at 1:46
  • 1
    I think we wrote them simultaneously! Sep 5, 2020 at 1:47

Apparently (thanks to @LateXeraXeTal) you just use


I admit I'm a bit confused as to why you don't use multiple e argument type specifiers to do this. Would one ever use multiple e type arguments?

  • I personally have not seen multiple e{} arguments used, but that doesn’t meant it’s not possible. Hopefully one of the LaTeX3 devs can comment. Sep 5, 2020 at 1:45
  • I haven't tested this, but I think that if you did, e.g., \NewDocumentCommand{\foo}{e{^}e{_}}, you would be requiring the embellishments to come in that order. That being said, and again I haven't tested this, you could, theoretically do \NewDocumentCommand{\foo}{e{^}e{^}} and have two (optional) embellishments. Or you could allow embellishments in different places in an argument list with mandatory and optional arguments.
    – Don Hosek
    Jun 23, 2021 at 3:03

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