Quoting from the respective tag wiki entries:

  • : "The {floats} tag concerns custom-made floats in addition to those already provided by the TeX macro package you use, and concerns issues such as positioning, labelling, indexing, captioning and listing. Use the {tables} or {figures} tags when asking questions about the standard LaTeX floats."

  • : "The {tables} tag deals with tabular and array environments and related packages. If your question is about floating or placing, use the {floats} tag instead."

  • : "This tag is to be applied to floats created with the figure environment, and deals with issues such as positioning, labelling, captioning, indexing and listing of said floats. Similar issues, but with custom defined floats should be tagged with ."

In other words: The wiki entries for and contradict each other.

The underlying problem seems to be that we never properly differentiated between floats and the possible content of floats:

  • Floats could be categorized into tables, figures and other (custom-built) floats.

  • Typical float content would be a environment or a .

Our and tags are in accord with the float/float content distinction. On the other hand, the tag wiki actually describes & friends, and the questions tagged with cover this particular float as well as its typical content.

Please suggest measures to get out of this tagging mess. Note that tag badges have been already awarded for , but not for or .

3 Answers 3


I prefer tags meaning actions or topics resp. objects, such as , resp. , . Naturally, commands and environments often have such descriptive names, this might cause a bit confusion of how to use a tag.

, and are in my opinion tags for such objects, not for those environments (which sound similar, just are singular).

It is not very meaningful to decide between figure and table environments as such. They are both with a very small difference. Sticking to environment names for those three tags would lead to merge all three together to and to creating a rather content related tag such as , we already have content related and the like.

  • That's why I would use for questions about figure and table environments as such, which means floating and placing and if we didn't have , also captioning.

  • I keep seeing for table objects such as tabular like environments and arrays. Not for the table environment in function as environment. With this intention I had written the wiki.

  • remain for figures, however done, not specifically for floating behavior of the figure environment.

I know it may cause some confusion. A tag wiki must clarify that.

Such posible confusion between topics and environments resp. commands lead me to the questions How to mark environments in tags, Backslash in tags (for specific command tags) and Tags for document classes.

  • So, in other words you suggest that {tables} should be a synonym to {tabular} or vice versa? I'm not sure why do we need to keep {figures} in this case, (as you say, {floats} should cover this), and there is sufficient number of graphics tags that can be used instead, depending on circumstances. Feb 23, 2011 at 20:11
  • 1
    @Martin: {tables} might be a tag for tables in general, no matter if the solution is using tabular, tabularx, tabulary, array, longtable, supertabular, xtab, booktabs, arydshln, ... just a generic tables tag. Not a synonym for tabular. Otherwise {tabular} would be of course a sufficient alternative. Similarly, {figures} can be seen as a broad generic tag about possibly captioned, referenced or floating objects produced by graphicx, TikZ, picture, PSTricks etc. And in typesetting tables are handled different to figures, if we look at caption position for instance.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Feb 23, 2011 at 20:46
  • @Stefan: I see. So, if I understand you correctly: use the generic tag if you ask a question without specifying particular package you'd like to use ("How to do X"), and use the specific tags when having issues regarding them ("Why this stuff looks so ugly with supertabular"). Putting them both will make the generic tag like a meta-tag, and that was kind of discouraged AFAIR. Feb 23, 2011 at 21:04
  • 1
    @Martin: I don't see that tags regarding specific topics without a concrete package (such as {tables}, {presentations}, {margins}, {spacing}) would be discouraged meta-tags (unlike meaningless {beginners}, {subjective}). Sometimes questioners look for a solution without knowing the right package, command or environment. And a specialist for an area could follow the broad tag without needing to follow each possible special tag whenever it's been created.
    – Stefan Kottwitz Mod
    Feb 23, 2011 at 21:20
  • 1
    @Martin: As I said elsewhere, I find too specific tagging not very useful for searching and prefer tags about concepts. Package/command tags are only useful if the concept is too broad (like tikz-pgf vs. drawing).
    – Caramdir
    Feb 23, 2011 at 21:37
  • @Caramdir, @Stefan: All right. I'm convinced. Feb 23, 2011 at 22:06

(This is sort of a follow-up on @Stefan' s answer, on which I mostly agree with and which I have accepted.)

Like @Stefan (and in accordance with @Caramdir's "tags about concepts" comment) I think that the way to go is three (general) tags:

  • , which would cover floating, placing and (together with the respective special tag) captioning of table, figure and custom float environments;

  • , which would cover tabular & friends (i.e. the content of a table environment);

  • One or more tags that would cover graphics, figures, pictures etc. (i.e. the content of a figure environment).

These tags would also correspond to chapters 6, 5 and 10 of the LaTeX Companion: "Mastering Floats", "Tabular Material"; "Graphics Generation and Manipulation".

My suggestion for the tag wiki entry for : "The {floats} tag deals with the floating environments figure and table as well as with custom-made floats, and concerns issues such as positioning, labelling, captioning, indexing and listing of said floats. If your question is speficically about formatting a float caption, consider to use the {captions} tag."

I suspect that a multitude of question would have to be retagged to conform with such a wiki entry (and with Stefan's entry for , which I deem perfectly appropriate). I'm aware of the problems caused by a "retagging spree" (@Andrew Stacey) and eager for suggestions how to proceed.

Unlike Stefan, I'm not sure that the tag will still have major applicability in addition to the tags and . In this regard, I will post a question on meta before long.

  • I think that mods can perform mass retagging without bumping questions. I guess I can find the appropriate reference on meta.SO if bothered to. Feb 24, 2011 at 20:57
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    @Martin: Mods can merge tags and declare tags as synonyms of other tags, but "partial" retagging by hand, as is neccessary here, will bump the respective questions.
    – lockstep
    Feb 24, 2011 at 21:14
  • Should we proceed like we did with {latex}, i.e. a couple of questions a day? (only took us a few weeks...) There are about 240 questions to look at.
    – Caramdir
    Feb 24, 2011 at 21:50
  • @Caramdir: I agree. I also suggest that we retag {figures} to {floats} where appropriate, but leave retagging to {graphics} or {picture} for the (soon-to-be) discussion.
    – lockstep
    Feb 24, 2011 at 21:59
  • @lockstep: I think we should do retagging after we have the whole set of tags figured out, so that we don't get confused.
    – Caramdir
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:01
  • First question retagged. Go figure! :-)
    – lockstep
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:02
  • @Caramdir: Cross-posting. Okay, let's postpone any major retaggings until we have figured out more details.
    – lockstep
    Feb 24, 2011 at 22:04
  • I asked a question about graphics-related tags.
    – lockstep
    Feb 25, 2011 at 17:39

All questions formerly tagged have been retagged as , or whatever else seemed appropriate. This meta question can be tagged as "status-completed".

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