Command Syntax

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WARNING: this page has to be finished first, than reviewed! Don't rely on actual information.


\command{the command works with its parameter(s)}

Command consists of:

\ leading backslash
name command name
{ } scope or range of the command (if applicable)
[ ] setups (if applicable)
$$ $$ math input (if applicable)




{\switch the switch influences everything in its group}


{\em here is emphasized text}

Find definition

There are several places where you can search for command definitions:

If you can't find specific option, here is an advice from mailing list how to search for them in sources:

This is what I usually do to find out about an option. Search 
texwebshow for options. If it is there, read the manual for the 

If I do not find any relevant option, but know that ConTeXt ought to have 
an option for what I want (which usually means that it will), look in the 
sources. My strategy for searching the sources involves finding out which 
source file defines the option. (search on work 
for most cases, I use grep for the cases which are more trickier to find). 

Most (all?) commands come with an accompanying \setup command, which 
initiallizes all the options for the command. This way, one knows at least 
which options a command will accept. In most cases guessing the 
functionality of an option is easy, as ConTeXt uses a consistent interface 
for everything.

Sometimes, when I have no clue what that option does, I  search where the
option is used. Most options are stored using  \getparameters[\??xx]
where xx is a two letter abbreviation. Then you can  search for
\@@xxoption to see where it is used. That way, you can usually guess what
an option does.

The sources also have some examples that are usually useful in 
understanding a few tricks about the command.

If I still can not figure out, I ask on the mailing list.

Referencing of arguments

In these sources there is different referencing of arguments to thier possible values and different typographic conventions.

Example: \setupheadertexts

  • in the manual:
 .1. text margin edge
 .2. text section date mark pagenumber
 .3. text section date mark pagenumber
  • in the texshow
 .1. text margin edge
 .2. text section date mark pagenumber
 .3. text section date mark pagenumber
  • in the emacs help
  .1. <text> margin edge
  .2. <text> <section> date  pagenumber
  .3. <text> <section> date  pagenumber

Typographic conventions

As you can see in in previous examples, command references have different typographic conventions.

Following table explains the meaning of values and shows their notation in different sources.

meaning setup-en.pdf] ConTeXt manual texshow-web etexshow] cont-en.xml
default x x x x x x
predefined x x x x x x
user input x x x x x x
text x x x x x x
number x x x x x x
reference x x x x x x
identifier x x x x x x
key=value pair x x x x x x
triplet x x x x x x
list of x x x x x x
command x x x x x x
...,...,... x x x x x x
x x x x x x
x x x x x x
x x x x x x

Other notes

  • In LaTeX optional arguments come before mandatory arguments. This is not true in ConTeXt. Optional argument can be at any position.
  • If key=value pair is missing the value, than the key is assigned the default value.

Contexgarden wiki

While writing to this wiki you can refer to the user commands with


which displays as \goto and the link brings you to the command definition in texshow-web.

Missing commands, descriptions and examples

Command Syntax/Missing