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1.8 @-commands

In a Texinfo file, the commands you write to describe the contents of the manual are preceded by an ‘@’ character; they are called @-commands. For example, @node is the command to indicate a node and @chapter is the command to indicate the start of a chapter. Almost all @ command names are entirely lowercase.

Texinfo’s @-commands are a strictly limited set of constructs. The strict limits are primarily intended to “force” you, the author, to concentrate on the writing and the content of your manual, rather than the details of the formatting.

Depending on what they do or what arguments1 they take, you need to write @-commands on lines of their own or as part of sentences:

As a general rule, a command requires braces if it mingles among other text; but it does not need braces if it is on a line of its own. The non-alphabetic commands, such as @:, are exceptions to the rule; they do not need braces.

As you gain experience with Texinfo, you will rapidly learn how to write the different commands: the different ways to write commands actually make it easier to write and read Texinfo files than if all commands followed exactly the same syntax. See @-Command Syntax, for all the details.



The word argument comes from the way it is used in mathematics and does not refer to a dispute between two people; it refers to the information presented to the command. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word derives from the Latin for to make clear, prove; thus it came to mean ‘the evidence offered as proof’, which is to say, ‘the information offered’, which led to its mathematical meaning. In its other thread of derivation, the word came to mean ‘to assert in a manner against which others may make counter assertions’, which led to the meaning of ‘argument’ as a dispute.

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