Hypertext Help with LaTeX

Special Characters

The following characters play a special role in LaTeX and are called special printing characters, or simply special characters.

     # $ % & ~ _ ^ \ { }

Whenever you put one of these special characters into your file, you are doing something special, as described below.

If you simply want the character to be printed just as any other letter, include a \ in front of the character. For example, \$ will produce $ in your output.

Exceptions to this rule:


The number (pound) sign is used to define use of arguments, for example, in the \newcommand command.


The dollar sign is used to delineate math and displaymath Enviroments.


The percent sign is used to insert Comments in the input file, and to allow line breaks without generating a space.


The ampersand is used to separate items in the array and tabular Enviroments.


The tilde generates a nonbreaking space To create a tilde in the output, use \verb or the verbatim environment (or cheat by using \~{}, i.e., placing a tilde accent over a "blank" letter).


The underscore is used to create subscripts.


The carat (circumflex) symbol generates superscripts. To create a carat in the output use \verb or the verbatim environment.

\ , { , and }

The backslash and braces are used in command definitions, for enclosing command arguments, and for delimiting scopes of declarations.

See also Input to LaTeX
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Revised 15 Jul 1995.