There is an increasing number of questions on the parent site which are being tagged with tex and latex. Although the second one could be justified in some cases, the first one doesn't have any sense in a site specifically devoted to TeX questions (it is like tagging a question programming in stackoverflow.com or maths in mathoverflow.net). I think the tex tag is redundant and should be removed.

6 Answers 6


If one could guarantee that the 'tex' tag was used to mean 'this is a question about the bowels of TeX, if you don't know the difference between \def and \edef then don't read any further' then I would argue that there was a place for it. However, the parallel universe where that happens is nowhere near this one so I second the proposal.

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    Agreed, but I think your ideal meaning of [tex] would be useful, so it might be nice if it could be called something else. Like [tex-core] or [tex-internals].
    – David Z
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 10:45
  • You could use initex for these. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 13:43
  • I think initex could mean something completely different in the TeX world. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 13:56
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    Remember that tags get auto-suggested. I would have the tag start with 'tex' so that it gets picked up when someone types 'tex' into the tag field. I prefer 'tex-core' over 'tex-internals'; to me, the latter suggests the tex source code itself. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 14:01
  • @juannavar: Initex is the pure primitive language that is generally used for defining format files, such as Plain Tex and Latex. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 8:56

I actually think the latex tag is the useless one. Most users coming to this site are probably dealing with LaTeX and, by default, our answers should be as most LaTeX-friendly as possible, using robust macros and packages. And only if the question is tagged as tex (or maybe tex-core or maybe macros or maybe something else?) we know that the poster has some TeX experience and is confident with using low-level commands.

  • I don't think that that is a safe assumption, though. I think that lots of questions will get tagged "tex" which aren't really about deep down TeX. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 12:55
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    Then those questions shouldn't be tagged tex. Maybe, as others suggested, plain-tex? Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 13:55
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    So Context and Plain Tex questions are implicitly Latex question? In fact, if you are searching, the ability to look for non-latex question using -[latex] is useful. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 13:55

I have never used plain TeX, only LaTeX. Maybe the tag should be plain-tex? For those who are not using any metapackages, or what to do something cool using plain TeX.

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    Plain TeX is a meta package! Wikipedia says: "Knuth's original default format, which adds about 600 commands, is Plain TeX" (emphasis mine). Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 12:54
  • Huh =) didn't know that. Oh god tagging these two correctly will be a pain.
    – Dima
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 13:14
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    @Andrew: Plain Tex is a macro package on top of initex. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 13:56
  • So why not keep tex, initex and latex tags. But don't use them if the question is just about "normal" latex. If the question is specifically about the initex core, i would add "initex". Or if it specifically asks about a non-latex, plain-tex solution, i would add "tex". Etc... Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 20:01
  • @Johannes: because if the tag exists, it will be misused. Better not allow the tag at all (and new users cannot create new tags). Commented Aug 9, 2010 at 10:21

Is either of them useless?

What if I want to ask how to do X in LaTeX? I'm not interested in answers talking about how to do it in regular TeX, or LyX or any other variants, just LaTeX. How should I tag it?

Likewise, what if I'm interested in how to do the same thing in TeX specifically? A LaTeX answer is no good to me.

Aren't both the tags justified then?

The problem obviously becomes enforcing this discipline (so [tex] doesn't end up on every question)

Or perhaps we should use [latex-only] and [tex-only] to indicate questions about those specifically?

  • That starst to sound like a more promising solution. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 15:44
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    Yes, tags like [latex-only] and [tex-only] would be better IMHO. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 16:02
  • [latex-only] and [tex-only] seem also good solutions to me. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 16:37
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    Note that by leading with the key word, they'll be sure to come up in the tagging suggestions. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 18:03
  • Somehow i don't really like "[latex-only]". Such a tag would indicate a preferred form of answers, and not describe the content of the question. If a question "only contains latex", then why would the tag be not called "[latex]" Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 20:03

I think it is true that most questions will be LaTeX related. (I've tagged some things with the latex tag, but not without some concern.)

However, the tex tag is needed, I think. I answered this question in LaTeX terms, then saw the tex tag, and deleted my answer. I've also commented on two other answers along the lines of "LaTeX answer to TeX question". I wasn't sure that it was a TeX not LaTeX question until I saw the tex tag.

  • I think it's fine to give a "LaTeX" answer to a "TeX" question. Maybe unless the question has a really-tex-only or plain-tex tag, the OP might have added the tex tag to say "hey I'm fine with tex-hacks", but he will be happy to know that there is a simpler/more robust LaTeX solution to his problem. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 16:09
  • But, if I am using TeX, how is a "here's what to do in LaTeX" answer much better than a "you do this in MS Word" one?
    – vanden
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 16:14
  • "unless the question has a really-tex-only or plain-tex tag" Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 16:24
  • you could see how the LaTeX package does things?
    – SamB
    Commented Nov 29, 2010 at 21:22

Reading the existing answers I propose to have the following tags:

  • tex-hacks for meaning "I know about \def and \edef so TeX hack-ish answers are fine for me. But hey, I'll also welcome any LaTeX answers too!"

  • plain-tex, latex, context, etc. for meaning "I only care about answers for this particular set of macro extensions. Don't bother me with anything outside of this scope!"

A lone tex tag should then be ditched and replaced with a more specific one, i.e. either tex-hacks or plain-tex.

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    Too much complicated, or not very intuitive at least. Tags like [tex-only], [latex-only] and so on should be enough to cover all that cases. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 16:42
  • From the comments above there is a need to distinguish between what you call tex-only and what I call tex-hacks, does that sound reasonable? Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:29
  • Btw, this answer is a community-wiki so feel free to edit and improve the proposal rather than just down-vote it. Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 19:31
  • A hacks tag should be enough if you're asking something 'hack-ish' (as you put it), along with a tex-only if you want to specify that you're asking about a tex hack. How does it sound? tex-hacks is redundant having those two tags, but that is just my opinion, I can be wrong. Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 16:49

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