the purpose of this question is to improve user documentation so that we don't get questions when a user tries to process an unaltered template.

at AMS, we distribute "author packages", each of which includes a template to get an author started. this template contains bare-bones code -- such as \include{} and \includeonly{} -- that is meant to be filled in, along with %ed comments saying how to use the code.

these templates can't be processed without change, but some authors try to do so anyhow, resulting in confusing errors. (for \include{}, the error is that the .tex file can't be found.) clearly, our understanding of what "template" means isn't the same as that of (some) authors.

in the context of LaTeX, what do you think "template" means:

  • a basic outline that requires some modification to be processable?

  • a processable example that can be modified to suit the author's needs?

  • something else entirely?

  • I understand under "template" a form of example file which shows how to do the real document. It might be compilable (and better should be), but doesn't have to. I however, encountered a lot of people (mostly beginners) which confuse a class with a template. Apr 24, 2012 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


This is not an attempt to define 'template' but merely a description of how it is used on the site. It might serve as a starting point for this discussion.

  • See Do we need both {documentclass} and {templates}? for a discussion of the difference between document clases and templates.
  • There is a tag for templates, , which has 563 posts. Its tag wiki quotes the meta discussion mentioned above. Skimming through these templates seems to have the meaning of a basic outline or general example that is easily adaptable to the user's needs.
  • actually, i had already read that post (but failed to mention it), so thanks for the reminder. it (and the most recent question from a confused author) is what prompted me to finally ask my question. i've done some work in the standards arena, and there it is de rigueur to first give a very explicit definition for all terminology. i was hoping i wouldn't have to go to that extreme (many authors don't even read documentation, and admit it proudly), but if the majority understanding of "template" is "example", then i guess it will be necessary, if probably fruitless. Apr 22, 2012 at 13:35
  • @barbarabeeton Your two suggestion for what it means seems to correspond to how it is used on the site. It is how I understand it too but my comprehension of the word may be misguided. I agree that a good definition would be preferable.
    – N.N.
    Apr 22, 2012 at 13:45

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