Hypertext Help with LaTeX
Fragile and Robust commands
LaTeX commands are either robust or fragile. Fragile commands need special care if they are part of a moving argument.
Arguments to some LaTeX commands are called moving arguments because they may be "moved" to other places in the document. For example, the argument of Sectioning comands may be moved to the Table of Contents. Other examples of moving arguments include:
- arguments of \caption commands
- terminal input and output, \typeout and \typein
- commands that produce page headings
- the Letter Environment
- the \thanks command
- an @ expression in the Array or Tabular environment
A fragile command that appears in a moving argument must be preceded by a \protect command. The \protect applies only to the immediately following command; if arguments of this command also contain fragile commands, the latter must be protected with their own \protect.
Some fragile commands
The following list is not exhaustive, but illustrates the kind of commands which are fragile
- All commands that have an optional argument are fragile.
- Environments delimited by \begin ... \end are fragile.
- Display math environment delimited by \[ ... \]
- Math environment \( ... \)
- However, $ ... $ is robust
- Line breaks, \\
- \item commands
- \footnote commands
Some robust commands
In general, commands which change Type face or Type style are robust.
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Revised 29 Sep 1995.