I'm trying to set up a list environment for typesetting a problem set. I'd like to be able to input something like the following:

\item First solution.
\item[2.2] Second solution.

and have it come out as:

Problem 1. First solution.
Problem 2 (2.2). Second solution

with the optional argument to \item being typeset in parentheses if it's present. I assume I should be able to \renewcommand{\makelabel} somehow, but I can't figure out how to do it. I can't get anything like the following to work:

\newcommand{\makepsetlabel}[1]{some if/then involving #1, checking if empty}

What's the right way?


2 Answers 2


I would use a different command instead of \item:


  label=Problem \arabic*\protect\thispitem,
    \def\thispitem{ (#1).}%


\pitem First
\pitem[2.2] Second


In the label I add a command \thispitem (with \protect so enumitem doesn't interpret it when setting up the environment).

Then \pitem examines the presence of an optional argument and acts consequently: if none is specified, it just prints a period, otherwise a space, the parenthesized argument and the period.

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  • Sounds like a good way to go -- thanks for the suggestion!
    – user25695
    Feb 9, 2013 at 13:31

One possibility is to grab the optional argument using your own command, so that \item does not see it.

\myitem abc
\myitem[2.1] def
  • The period will be in the wrong place.
    – egreg
    Feb 8, 2013 at 23:07
  • @egreg --- Friday night is not the time to consider such details! Feb 8, 2013 at 23:12
  • @IanThompson: I've added a deleted answer that could be used as a slight improvement(?) to your current definition. Grab some from it if you need it.
    – Werner
    Feb 8, 2013 at 23:35

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