LaTeX2e for authors

LaTeX2e for authors

Copyright 1994, LaTeX3 Project Team.
All rights reserved.

13. July 1994


Welcome to LaTeX2e, the new standard version of the LaTeX Document Preparation System.

This document describes how to take advantage of the new features of LaTeX, and how to process your old LaTeX documents with LaTeX2e. However, this document is only a brief introduction to the new facilities and is intended for authors who are already familiar with the old version of LaTeX. It is neither a user-guide nor a reference manual for LaTeX2e.

LaTeX2e---The new LaTeX release

The previous version of LaTeX was known as LaTeX 2.09. Over the years many extensions have been developed for LaTeX. This is, of course, a sure sign of its continuing popularity but it has had one unfortunate result: incompatible LaTeX formats came into use at different sites. This included `standard LaTeX 2.09', LaTeX built with the New Font Selection Scheme (NFSS), SLiTeX, AMSLaTeX, and so on. Thus, to process documents from various places, a site maintainer was forced to keep multiple versions of the LaTeX program. In addition, when looking at a source file it was not always clear for which format the document was written.

To put an end to this unsatisfactory situation, LaTeX2e has been produced; it brings all such extensions back under a single format and thus prevents the proliferation of mutually incompatible dialects of LaTeX 2.09. With LaTeX2e the `new font selection scheme' is standard and, for example, amstex (formerly the AMSLaTeX format) or slides (formerly the SLiTeX format) are simply extension packages, all working with the same base format.

The introduction of a new release also made it possible to add a small number of often-requested features and to make the task of writing packages and classes simpler.

LaTeX3---The long-term future of LaTeX

LaTeX2e is the consolidation step in a comprehensive reimplementation of the LaTeX system. The next major release of LaTeX will be LaTeX3, which will include a radical overhaul of the document designers' and package writers' interface to LaTeX.

LaTeX3 is a long-term research project but, until it is completed, the project team are committed to the active maintenance of LaTeX2e. Thus the experience gained from the production and maintenance of LaTeX2e will be a major influence on the design of LaTeX3.

If you would like to support the project then you are welcome to send donations to the LaTeX3 Project Fund; this has been set up to help the research team by financing various expenses associated with this voluntary work of maintaining the current LaTeX and developing LaTeX3.

The fund is administered by The TeX Users Group and by various local user groups. Information about making donations and joining these groups is available from:

TeX Users Group
P. O. Box 869, Santa Barbara, CA 93102-0869, USA
Fax: +1 805 963 8358


This document contains an overview of the new structure and features of LaTeX. It is not a self-contained document, as it contains only the features of LaTeX which have changed since version 2.09. You should read this document in conjunction with an introduction to LaTeX.

Section here
contains an overview of the new structure of LaTeX documents. It describes how classes and packages work and how class and package options can be used. It lists the standard packages and classes which come with LaTeX.

Section here
describes the new commands available to authors in LaTeX2e.

Section here
shows how to process old LaTeX documents with LaTeX2e.

Section here
contains advice on dealing with problems you may encounter in running LaTeX2e. It lists some error messages which are new in LaTeX2e and it describes some of the more common problems and how to cure them, or where to find further information.

Further information

For a general introduction to LaTeX, including the new features of LaTeX2e, you should read LaTeX: A Document Preparation system by Leslie Lamport here.

A more detailed description of the new features of LaTeX, including an overview of more than 150 packages, is to be found in The LaTeX Companion by Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach and Alexander Samarin here.

For more information about the many new LaTeX packages you should read the package documentation, which should be available from the same source as your copy of LaTeX.

There are a number of documentation files which accompany every copy of LaTeX. A copy of LaTeX News will come out with each six-monthly release of LaTeX; it will be found in the files ltnews*.tex. The class- and package-writer's guide LaTeX2e for Class and Package Writers describes the new LaTeX features for writers of document classes and packages; it is in clsguide.tex. The guide LaTeX2e Font Selection describes the LaTeX font selection scheme for class- and package-writers; it is in fntguide.tex.

We are gradually turning the source code for LaTeX into a LaTeX document LaTeX: the program. This document includes an index of LaTeX commands and can be typeset from source2e.tex.

For more information about TeX and LaTeX, please contact your local TeX Users Group, or the international TeX Users Group, P. O. Box 869, Santa Barbara, CA 93102-0869, USA, Fax: +1 805 963 8358, E-mail:

Classes and packages

This section describes the new structure of LaTeX documents and the new types of file: classes and packages.

What are classes and packages?

The main difference between LaTeX 2.09 and LaTeX2e is in the commands before .

In LaTeX 2.09, documents had styles, such as article or book, and options, such as twoside or epsfig. These were indicated by the \documentstyle command:

For example, to specify a two-sided article with encapsulated PostScript figures, you said:


However, there were two different types of document style option: built-in options such as twoside; and packages such as epsfig.sty. These were very different, since any LaTeX document style could use the epsfig package but only document styles which declared the twoside option could use it.

To avoid this confusion, LaTeX2e differentiates between built-in options and packages. These are given by the new \documentclass and \usepackage commands:

For example, to specify a two-sided article with encapsulated PostScript figures, you now write:


You can load more than one package with a single \usepackage command; for example, rather than writing:


you can specify:


Note that LaTeX2e still understands the LaTeX 2.09 \documentstyle command. This command causes LaTeX2e to enter LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode, which is described in Section here.

You should not, however, use the \documentstyle command for new documents because this compatibility mode is very slow and the new features of LaTeX2e are not available in this mode.

To help differentiate between classes and packages, document classes now end with .cls rather than .sty. Packages still end with .sty, since most LaTeX 2.09 packages work well with LaTeX2e.

Class and package options

In LaTeX 2.09, only document styles could have options such as twoside or draft. In LaTeX2e, both classes and packages are allowed to have options. For example, to specify a two-sided article with graphics using the dvips driver, you write:


It is possible for packages to share common options. For example, you may could, in addition, load the color package by specifying:


But because \usepackage allows more than one package to be listed, this can be shortened to:


In addition, packages will also use each option given to the \documentclass command (if they know what to do with it), so you could also write:


Class and package options are covered in more detail in The LaTeX Companion and in LaTeX2e for Class and Package Writers.

Standard classes

The following classes are distributed with LaTeX:

The article class described in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system.
The book class described in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system.
The report class described in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system.
The letter class described in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system.
The slides class described in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system, formerly SLiTeX.
A document class for proceedings, based on article. Formerly the proc package.
The document class for documenting the LaTeX program, based on article.
The document class for LaTeX2e for Authors and LaTeX2e for Class and Package Writers, based on article. The document you are reading now uses the ltxguide class. The layout for this class is likely to change in future releases of LaTeX.
The document class for the LaTeX News information sheet, based on article. The layout for this class is likely to change in future releases of LaTeX.

Standard packages

The following packages are distributed with LaTeX:

Allows the documentation of LaTeX programs.
Described in doc.dtx and in The LaTeX Companion.
Provides scaled versions of the math extension font.
Described in ltexscale.dtx.
Specifies which font encoding LaTeX should use.
Described in ltoutenc.dtx.
Provides commands of the form `if\dots then do\dots otherwise do\dots'.
Described in ifthen.dtx and The LaTeX Companion.
LaTeX2e no longer loads the LaTeX symbol font by default. To access it, you should use the latexsym package. Described in latexsym.dtx and in The LaTeX Companion; see also Section here.
Provides commands for producing indexes. Described in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system and in The LaTeX Companion.
Emulates the font commands of LaTeX 2.09 with the New Font Selection Scheme. Described in The LaTeX Companion.
Emulates the font commands of LaTeX 2.09.
Described in The LaTeX Companion.
Processes a document without typesetting it.
Described in syntonly.dtx and in The LaTeX Companion.
Allows you to control how much information about LaTeX's font loading is displayed. Described in The LaTeX Companion.

Related software

In addition, the following software should be available from the same distributor as your copy of LaTeX2e:

Advanced mathematical typesetting from the American Mathematical Society
Supports typesetting in many languages.
Provides support for colour.
Inclusion of graphics files.
Typesetting with bit-map (Metafont) fonts.
Typesetting with Type 1 (PostScript) fonts.
Miscellaneous packages written by the LaTeX3 project team.
These packages come with documentation and each of them is also described in at least one of the books The LaTeX Companion and LaTeX: A Document Preparation system.


This collection of packages includes, at least, the following (some files may have slightly different names on certain systems):

Extended versions of the environments array, tabular and tabular*, with many extra features.
Alignment on `decimal points' in tabular entries. Requires the array package.
Adds `large delimiters' around arrays. Requires array.
Finer control over horizontal rules in tables. Requires array.
Multi-page tables. (Does not require array, but it uses the extended features if both are loaded.)
Defines a tabularx environment that is similar to tabular* but it modifies the column widths, rather than the inter-column space, to achieve the desired table width.
Place text after the current page.
Extended version of the enumerate environment.
Package and test file for producing `font samples'.
Place all footnotes in the right-hand column in two-column mode.
Indent The first paragraph of sections, etc.
Typeset text in columns, with the length of the columns `balanced'.
Preload fonts using the old internal font names of LaTeX2.09. See Section here.
Selective handling of package options. (Used by the rawfonts package.)
Prints the `keys' used by \label, \ref, \cite etc.; useful whilst drafting.
Flexible declaration of `theorem-like' environments.
`Smart' handling of page references.
Flexible extension of the verbatim environment.
`Smart space' command that helps you to avoid the common mistake of missing spaces after command names.


This section describes the new commands available in LaTeX2e. They are covered in more detail in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system and in The LaTeX Companion.

Initial commands

Initial commands can appear only before the \documentclass line.

\begin{filecontents} {file-name}

The filecontents environment is intended for bundling within a single document file the contents of packages, options, or other files. When the document file is run through LaTeX2e the body of this environment is written verbatim (preceded by a comment line) to a file whose name is given as the environment's only argument. However, if that file already exists then nothing happens except for an information message.

Only normal ASCII text characters (i.e. 7-bit visible text) should be included in a filecontents environment. Anything else, such as tab characters, form-feeds or 8-bit characters, should not be included in a filecontents environment.

Tabs and form feeds produce a warning, explaining that they are turned into spaces or blank lines, respectively. What happens to 8-bit characters depends on the TeX installation and is in general unpredictable.

The filecontents environment is used for including LaTeX files. For other plain text files (such as Encapsulated PostScript files), you should use the filecontents* environment which does not add a comment line.

These environments are allowed only before \documentclass. This ensures that any packages that have been bundled in the document are present when needed.

Preamble commands

The changes to the preamble commands are intentionally designed to make LaTeX2e documents look clearly different from old documents. The commands should be used only before .

\documentclass [option-list] {class-name} [release-date]

This command replaces the LaTeX2.09 command \documentstyle.

There must be exactly one \documentclass command in a document; and it must come after the filecontents environments, if any, but before any other commands.

The <option-list> is a list of options, each of which may modify the formatting of elements which are defined in the <class-name> file, as well as those in all following \usepackage commands (see below).

The optional argument <release-date> can be used to specify the earliest desired release date of the class file; it should contain a date in the format \textsc{yyyy/mm/dd}. If a version of the class older than this date is found, a warning is issued.

For example, to specify a two-column article, using a version of article.cls released after June 1994, you specify:


\documentstyle [option-list] {class-name}

This command is still supported for compatibility with old files. It is essentially the same as \documentclass except that it invokes LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode. It also causes any options in the <option-list> that are not processed by the class file to be loaded as packages after the class has been loaded. See Section here for more details on LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode.

\usepackage [option-list] {package-name} [release-date]

Any number of \usepackage commands is allowed. Each package file (as denoted by <package-name>) defines new elements (or modifies those defined in the class file loaded by the <class-name> argument of the \documentclass command). A package file thus extends the range of documents which can be processed.

The <option-list> argument can contain a list of options, each of which can modify the formatting of elements which are defined in this <package-name> file.

As above, <release-date> can contain the earliest desired release date of the package file in the format \textsc{yyyy/mm/dd}; if an older version of the package is found, a warning is issued.

For example, to load the graphics package for the dvips driver, using a version of graphics.sty released after June 1994, you write:


Each package is loaded only once. If the same package is requested more than once, nothing happens in the second or following attempt unless the package has been requested with options that were not given in the original \usepackage. If such extra options are specified then an error message is produced. See Section here how to resolve this problem.

As well as processing the options given in the <option-list> of the \usepackage command, each package processes the <option-list> of the \documentclass command as well. This means that any option which should be processed by every package (to be precise, by every package that specifies an action for it) can be specified just once, in the \documentclass command, rather than being repeated for each package that needs it.


If this command is placed in the preamble then a list of the files read in (as a result of processing the document) will be displayed on the terminal (and in the log file) at the end of the run. Where possible, a short description will also be produced.

Warning: this command will list only files which were read using LaTeX commands such as \input{file} or \include{file}. If the file was read using the primitive TeX file input command then it will not be listed.

\setcounter{errorcontextlines} {num}

TeX3 introduced a new primitive \errorcontextlines which controls the format of error messages. LaTeX2e provides an interface to this through the standard \setcounter command. As most LaTeX users do not want to see the internal definitions of LaTeX commands each time they make an error, LaTeX2e sets this to $-1$ by default.

Document structure

The book document class introduces new commands to indicate document structure.


These commands indicate the beginning of the front matter (title page, table of contents and prefaces), main matter (main text) and back matter (bibliography, indexes and colophon).


In LaTeX, commands can have both mandatory and optional arguments, for example in:


the 11pt argument is optional, whereas the article class name is mandatory.

In LaTeX 2.09 users could define commands with arguments, but these had to be mandatory arguments. With LaTeX2e, users can now define commands and environments which also have one optional argument.

\newcommand {cmd} [num] [default] {definition}
\renewcommand {cmd} [num] [default] {definition}

These commands have a new, second, optional argument; this is used for defining commands which themselves take one optional argument. This new argument is best introduced by means of a simple (and hence not very practical) example:

   \newcommand{\example}[2][YYY]{Mandatory arg: #2;
                                 Optional arg: #1.}

This defines \example to be a command with two arguments, referred to as #1 and #2 in the {definition}---nothing new so far. But by adding a second optional argument to this \newcommand (the [YYY]) the first argument (#1) of the newly defined command \example is made optional with its default value being YYY.

Thus the usage of \example is either:


which prints:

Mandatory arg: BBB; Optional arg: YYY.


which prints:

Mandatory arg: AAA; Optional arg: XXX.

The default value of the optional argument is YYY. This value is specified as the [default] argument of the \newcommand that created \example.

As another more useful example, the definition:

   \newcommand{\seq}[2][n]{\lbrace #2_{0},\ldots,\,#2_{#1} \rbrace}

means that the input $\seq{a}$ produces the formula $\lbrace a_{0},\ldots,\,a_{n} \rbrace$, whereas the input $\seq[k]{x}$ produces the formula $\lbrace x_{0},\ldots,\,x_{k} \rbrace$.

In summary, the command:

\newcommand {cmd} [num] [default] {definition}
defines <cmd> to be a command with <num> arguments, the first of which is optional and has default value <default>.

Note that there can only be one optional argument but, as before, there can be up to nine arguments in total.

\newenvironment {cmd} [num] [default] {beg-def} {end-def}
\renewenvironment {cmd} [num] [default] {beg-def} {end-def}

LaTeX2e also supports the creation of environments that have one optional argument. Thus the syntax of these two commands has been extended in the same way as that of \newcommand.

\providecommand {cmd} [num] [default] {definition}

This takes the same arguments as \newcommand. If <cmd> is already defined then the existing definition is kept; but if it is currently undefined then the effect of \providecommand is to define <cmd> just as if \newcommand had been used.


These next three commands for making LR-boxes all existed in LaTeX 2.09. They have been enhanced in two ways.

\makebox [width] [pos] {text}
\framebox [width] [pos] {text}
\savebox {cmd} [width] [pos] {text}

One small but far-reaching change for LaTeX2e is that, within the <width> argument only, four special lengths can be used. These are all dimensions of the box that would be produced by using simply \mbox{text}:

\height its height above the baseline;
\depth its depth below the baseline;
\totalheight the sum of \height and \depth;
\width its width.
Thus, to put `hello' in the centre of a box of twice its natural width, you would use:


Or you could put \textit{f} into a square box, like this: \framebox{\makebox[\totalheight]{\itshape f\/}}

   \framebox{\makebox[\totalheight]{\itshape f\/}}

Note that it is the total width of the framed box, including the frame, which is set to \totalheight.

The other change is a new possibility for <pos>: s has been added to l and r. If <pos> is s then the text is stretched the full length of the box, making use of any `rubber lengths' (including any inter-word spaces) in the box's contents. If no such `rubber length' is present, an `underfull box' will probably be produced.

\parbox [pos] [height] [inner-pos] {width} {text}
\begin{minipage} [pos] [height] [inner-pos] {width}

As for the box commands above, \height, \width, etc. may be used in the [height] argument to denote the natural dimensions of the box.

The <inner-pos> argument is new in LaTeX2e. It is the vertical equivalent to the <pos> argument for \makebox, etc, determining the position of <text> within the box. The <inner-pos> may be any one of t, b, c, or s, denoting top, bottom, centred, or `stretched' alignment respectively. When the <inner-pos> argument is not specified, LaTeX gives it same value as <pos> (this could be the latter's default value).

\begin{lrbox} {cmd}

This is an environment which does not directly print anything. Its effect is to save the typeset <text> in the bin <cmd>. Thus it is like \sbox {cmd} {text}, except that any white space before or after the contents <text> is ignored.

This is very useful as it enables both the \verb command and the verbatim environment to be used within <text>.

It also makes it possible to define, for example, a `framed box' environment. This is done by first using this environment to save some text in a bin <cmd> and then calling \fbox{\usebox{<cmd>}}.

The following example defines an environment, called fmpage, that is a framed version of minipage.


} {


Measuring things

The first of these next commands was in LaTeX 2.09. The two new commands are the obvious analogues.

\settowidth {length-cmd} {lr text}
\settoheight {length-cmd} {lr text}
\settodepth {length-cmd} {lr text}

Controlling page breaks

Sometimes it is necessary, for a final version of a document, to `help' LaTeX break the pages in the best way. LaTeX 2.09 had a variety of commands for this situation: \clearpage, \pagebreak etc. LaTeX2e provides, in addition, commands which can produce longer pages as well as shorter ones.

\enlargethispage {size}
\enlargethispage* {size}

These commands increase the height of a page (from its normal value of \textheight) by the specified amount <size>, a rigid length. This change affects only the current page.

This can be used, for example, to allow an extra line to be fitted onto the page or, with a negative length, to produce a page shorter than normal.

The star form also shrinks any vertical white space on the page as much as possible, so as to fit the maximum amount of text on the page.


There is a new command, \suppressfloats, and a new `float specifier'. These will enable people to gain better control of LaTeX's float placement algorithm.

\suppressfloats [placement]

This command stops any further floating environments from being placed on the current page. With an optional argument, which should be either t or b (not both), this restriction applies only to putting further floats at the top or at the bottom. Any floats which would normally be placed on this page are placed on the next page instead.

The extra float location specifier: !

This can be used, along with at least one of h, t, b and p, in the location optional argument of a float.

If a ! is present then, just for this particular float, whenever it is processed by the float mechanism the following are ignored:

  • all restrictions on the number of floats which can appear;
  • all explicit restrictions on the amount of space on a text page which may be occupied by floats or must be occupied by text.
  • The mechanism will, however, still attempt to ensure that pages are not overfull and that floats of the same type are printed in the correct order.

    Note that its presence has no effect on the production of float pages.

    A ! specifier overrides the effect of any \suppressfloats command for this particular float.

    Font changing: text

    LaTeX2e has a very different font selection scheme to LaTeX 2.09. In this section, we give a brief description of the new commands. A more detailed description with examples is given in The LaTeX Companion, and the interface for class- and package-writers is described in LaTeX2e Font Selection.


    These are font commands whose use is the same as the commands \rm, \bf, etc. The difference is that each command changes just one attribute of the font (the attribute changed is part of the name). One result of this is that, for example, \bfseries\itshape produces both a change of series and a change of shape, to give a bold italic font.


    These are one-argument commands; they take as an argument the text which is to be typeset in the particular font. They also automatically insert italic corrections where appropriate; if you do not like the result, you can add an italic correction with \/ or remove it with \nocorr. The \nocorr should always be the first or last thing within the {text} argument.

    Font changing: math

    Most of the fonts used within math mode do not need to be explicitly invoked; but to use letters from a range of fonts, the following class of commands is provided.

    \mathrm {letters}
    \mathnormal {letters}
    \mathcal {letters}
    \mathbf {letters}
    \mathsf {letters}
    \mathtt {letters}
    \mathit {letters}

    These are also one-argument commands which take as an argument the letters which are to be typeset in the particular font. The argument is processed in math mode so spaces within it will be ignored. Only letters, digits and accents have their font changed, for example $\mathbf{\tilde A \times 1}$ produces $\mathbf{\tilde A \times 1}$.

    Ensuring math mode

    \ensuremath {math commands}

    In LaTeX 2.09, if you wanted a command to work both in math mode and in text mode, the suggested method was to define something like:


    Unfortunately, the \mbox stops \Gp changing size correctly in (for instance) subscripts or a fraction.

    In LaTeX2e you can define it thus:


    Now \Gp will work correctly in all contexts.

    This is because the \ensuremath does nothing, producing simply G_p, when \Gp is used within math mode; but it ensures that math mode is entered (and exited) as required when \Gp is used in text mode.



    LaTeX (producing `LaTeX') is still the `main' logo command, but if you need to refer to the new features, you can write LaTeX2e (producing `LaTeX2e').

    Picture commands


    The \qbezier command can be used in picture mode to draw a quadratic bezier curve from position (<AX>,<AY>) to (<CX>,<CY>) with control point (<BX>,<BY>). The optional argument <N> gives the number of points on the curve.

    For example, the diagram:

    \begin{picture}(50,50) \thicklines \qbezier(0,0)(0,50)(50,50) \qbezier[20](0,0)(50,0)(50,50) \thinlines \put(0,0){\line(1,1){50}} \end{picture}

    is drawn with:


    The \bezier command is the same, except that the argument <N> is not optional. It is provided for compatibility with the LaTeX 2.09 bezier document style option.

    Old commands


    The \samepage command still exists but is no longer being maintained. This is because it only ever worked erratically; it does not guarantee that there will be no page-breaks within its scope; and it can cause footnotes and marginals to be wrongly placed.

    We recommend using \enlargethispage in conjunction with page-break commands such as \newpage and \pagebreak to help control page breaks.


    Since SLiTeX no longer exists, the logo is no longer defined in the LaTeX kernel. A suitable replacement is \textsc{SliTeX}. The SLiTeX logo is defined in LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode.

    \mho \Join \Box \Diamond \leadsto
    \sqsubset \sqsupset \lhd \unlhd \rhd \unrhd

    These symbols are contained in the LaTeX symbol font, which was automatically loaded by LaTeX 2.09. However, TeX has room for only sixteen math font families; thus many users discovered that they ran out. Because of this, LaTeX does not load the LaTeX symbol font unless you use the latexsym package.

    These symbols are also made available, using different fonts, by the amsfonts package, which also defines a large number of other symbols. It is supplied by the American Mathematical Society.

    The latexsym package is loaded automatically in LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode.

    LaTeX 2.09 documents

    LaTeX2e can process (almost) any LaTeX 2.09 document, by entering LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode. Nothing has changed, you run LaTeX in the same way you always did, and you will get much the same results.

    The reason for the `almost' is that some LaTeX 2.09 packages made use of low-level unsupported features of LaTeX. If you discover such a package, you should find out if it has been updated to work with LaTeX2e. Most packages will still work with LaTeX2e---the easiest way to find out whether a package still works is to try it!

    LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode is a comprehensive emulation of LaTeX 2.09, but at the cost of time. Documents can run up to 50% slower in compatibility mode than they did under LaTeX 2.09. In addition, many of the new features of LaTeX2e are not available in LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode.

    Font selection problems

    When using compatibility mode, it is possible that you will find problems with font-changing commands in some old documents. These problems are of two types:

  • producing error messages;
  • not producing the font changes you expected.
  • In case of error messages it is possible that the document (or an old style file used therein) contains references to old internal commands which are no longer defined, see Section here for more information if this is the case.

    LaTeX 2.09 allowed sites to customize their LaTeX installation, which resulted in documents producing different results on different LaTeX installations. LaTeX2e no longer allows so much customization but, for compatibility with old documents, the local configuration file latex209.cfg is loaded every time LaTeX2e enters LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode.

    For example, if your site was customized to use the New Font Selection Scheme (NFSS) with the oldlfont option, then you can make LaTeX2e emulate this by creating a latex209.cfg file containing the command \ds@oldlfont. Similarly, to emulate NFSS with the newlfont option, you can create a latex209.cfg file containing \ds@newlfont.

    Native mode

    To run an old documents faster, and use the new features of LaTeX2e, you should try using LaTeX2e native mode. This is done by replacing the command:

    However, some documents which can be processed in LaTeX 2.09 compatibility mode may not work in native mode. Some LaTeX 2.09 packages will only work with LaTeX2e in 2.09 compatibility mode. Some documents will cause errors because of LaTeX2e's improved error detection abilities.

    But most LaTeX 2.09 documents can be processed by LaTeX2e's native mode with the above change. Again, the easiest way to find out whether your documents can be processed in native mode is to try it!


    This section describes some of the things which may go wrong when using LaTeX2e, and what you can do about it.

    New error messages

    LaTeX2e has a number of new error messages. Please also note that many error messages now produce further helpful information if you press h in response to the error prompt.

    Option clash for package <package>.

    The named package has been loaded twice with different options. If you enter h you will be told what the options were, for example, if your document contained:


    then you will get the error message:

       Option clash for package fred.

    and typing h at the ? prompt will give you:

       The package fred has already been loaded with options:
       There has now been an attempt to load it with options:
       Adding the line:
       to your document may fix this.
       Try typing <<return>> to proceed.

    The cure is, as suggested, to load the package with both sets of options. Note that since LaTeX packages can call other packages, it is possible to get a package option clash without explicitly requesting the same package twice.

    Command <command> not provided in base NFSS.

    The <command> is not provided by default in LaTeX2e. This error is generated by using one of the commands:

       \mho \Join \Box \Diamond \leadsto
       \sqsubset \sqsupset \lhd \unlhd \rhd \unrhd

    which are now part of the latexsym package. The cure is to add:


    in the preamble of your document.

    LaTeX2e command <command> in LaTeX 2.09 document.

    The <command> is a LaTeX2e command but this is a LaTeX 2.09 document. The cure is to replace the command by a LaTeX 2.09 command, or to run document in native mode, as described in Section here.

    NFSS release 1 command \newmathalphabet found.

    The command \newmathalphabet was used by the New Font Selection Scheme Release 1 but it has now been replaced by \DeclareMathAlphabet, the use of which is described in LaTeX2e Font Selection.

    The best cure is to update the package which contained the \newmathalphabet command. Find out if there is a new release of the package, or (if you wrote the package yourself) consult LaTeX2e Font Selection for the new syntax of font commands.

    If there is no updated version of the package then you can cure this error by using the newlfont or oldlfont package, which tells LaTeX which version of \newmathalphabet should be emulated.

    You should use oldlfont if the document selects math fonts with syntax such as this:

    {\cal A}, etc.
    Use newlfont if the document's syntax is like this:
    \cal{A}, etc.

    Text for command ended by end of line.

    The \verb command has been begun but not ended on that line. This usually means that you have forgotten to put in the end-character of the \verb command.

    Illegal use of command.

    The \verb command has been used inside the argument of another command. This has never been allowed in LaTeX---often producing incorrect output without any warning---and so LaTeX2e produces an error message.

    Old internal commands

    A number of LaTeX 2.09 internal commands have been removed, since their functionality is now provided in a different way. See LaTeX2e for Class and Package Writers for more details of the new, supported interface for class and package writers.

    \tenrm \elvrm \twlrm \dots
    \tenbf \elvbf \twlbf \dots
    \tensf \elvsf \twlsf \dots

    These commands provided access to the seventy fonts pre-loaded by LaTeX 2.09. In contrast, LaTeX2e normally pre-loads at most fourteen fonts, which saves a lot of font memory; but a consequence is that any LaTeX file which used the above commands to directly access fonts will no longer work.

    Their use will usually produce an error message such as:

       ! Undefined control sequence.
       l.5 \tenrm

    The cure for this is to update the document to use the new font-changing commands provided by LaTeX2e; these are described in LaTeX2e Font Selection.

    If this is not possible then, as a last resort, you can use the rawfonts package, which loads the seventy LaTeX 2.09 fonts and provides direct access to them using the old commands. This takes both time and memory. If you do not wish to load all seventy fonts, you can select some of them by using the only option to rawfonts. For example, to load only tenrm and tenbf you write:


    The rawfonts package is distributed with the LaTeX tools software, see Section here.

    Old files

    One of the more common mistakes in running LaTeX is to read in old versions of packages instead of the new versions. If you get an incomprehensible error message from a standard package, make sure you are loading the most recent version of the package. You can find out which version of the package has been loaded by looking in the log file for a line like:

       Package `fred' 1994/06/01 v0.01 Fred's package.

    You can use the <release-date> options to \documentclass and \usepackage to make sure that you are getting a suitably recent copy of the document class or package. This is useful when sending a document to another site, which may have out-of-date software.

    Where to go for more help

    If you can't find the answer for your problem here, try looking in LaTeX: A Document Preparation system or The LaTeX Companion. If you have a problem with installing LaTeX, look in the installation guide files which come with the distribution.

    If this doesn't help, contact your local LaTeX guru or local LaTeX mailing list.

    If you think you've discovered a bug then please report it! First, you should find out if the problem is with a third-party package or class. If the problem is caused by a package or class other than those listed in Section here then please report the problem to the author of the package or class, not to the LaTeX3 project team.

    If the bug really is with core LaTeX then you should create a short, self-contained document which exhibits the problem. You should run a recent (less than a year old) version of LaTeX on the file and then run LaTeX on latexbug.tex. This will create an error report which you should send, together with the sample document and log file, to the LaTeX bugs address which can be found in the file latexbug.tex or bugs.txt.


    We certainly hope you will enjoy using the new standard LaTeX but, if this is not possible, we hope that you will enjoy success and fulfilment as a result of the documents which it will help you to create.

    If you find that the contribution of LaTeX to your life is such that you would like to support the work of the project team, then please read Section here and discover practical ways to do this.


  • . Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach and Alexander Samarin.
    The LaTeX Companion.
    Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, 1994.

  • . Donald E. Knuth.
    Typesetting concrete mathematics.
    TUGboat, 10(1):31--36, April 1989.

  • . Leslie Lamport.
    LaTeX: A Document Preparation System.
    Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts, second edition, 1994.