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While playing around with TeX, I came across a strange error. This is my input file:

\def\twice#1{#1#1}
\def\hello{Hello World.\par}

\twice{\hello} % works
\twice{Hello World. } % works
\twice{Hello World.\par} % doesn't work
\end

When I compile this with pdftex, I get this error:

(./hello.tex
Runaway argument?
{Hello World.
! Paragraph ended before \twice was complete.
<to be read again> 
                   \par 
l.6 \twice{Hello World.\par
                           } % doesn't work
!  ==> Fatal error occurred, no output PDF file produced!

If I remove the line \twice{Hello World.\par}, compilation succeeds and I get the expected output.

Why does \twice{\hello} work but \twice{Hello World.\par} not work?

Will the general technique of changing \someMacro{someText\par} to \def\defText{someText\par} \def\someMacro{\defText} always work? Is there an alternative that can help me not define a macro for every paragraph that I want to use as a parameter to some macro?

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  • 4
    If you want to define a command which accepts a \par as argument, use \long\def. Sep 14 '20 at 20:42
5

To avoid a missing } causing your entire document to be swallowed searching for the end of an argument, buy default \par (or a blank line) is not allowed in a macro argument. If you want to define a command that allows multiple paragraphs in the argument, use \long\def rather than \def.

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