Frequently Asked Question List for TeX


Defining LaTeX commands within other commands

LaTeX command definition is significantly different from the TeX primitive form discussed in an earlier question about definitions within macros.

In most ways, the LaTeX situation is simpler (at least in part because it imposes more restrictions on the user); however, defining a command within a command still requires some care.

The earlier question said you have to double the # signs in command definitions: in fact, the same rule holds, except that LaTeX already takes care of some of the issues, by generating argument lists for you.

The basic problem is that:

\newcommand{\abc}[1]{joy, oh #1!%
  \newcommand{\ghi}[1]{gloom, oh #1!}%

followed by a call:


typesets “joy, oh joy!”, but defines a command \ghi that takes one parameter, which it ignores; \ghi{gloom} will expand to “gloom, oh joy!”, which is presumably not what was expected.

And (as you will probably guess, if you’ve read the earlier question) the definition:

\newcommand{\abc}[1]{joy, oh #1!%
  \newcommand{\ghi}[1]{gloom, oh ##1!}%

does what is required, and \ghi{gloom} will expand to “gloom, oh gloom!”, whatever the argument to \abc.

The doubling is needed whether or not the enclosing command has an argument, so:

\newcommand{\abc}{joy, oh joy!%
  \newcommand{\ghi}[1]{gloom, oh ##1!}%

is needed to produce a replica of the \ghi we defined earlier.

FAQ ID: Q-ltxhash
Tags: latexmacros