[OS X TeX] Why does this hang so?

Ross Moore ross at ics.mq.edu.au
Fri Oct 23 19:37:39 EDT 2009

Hi Alain,

On 24/10/2009, at 6:53 AM, Alain Schremmer wrote:

> On Oct 22, 2009, at 10:24 PM, Ross Moore wrote:
>> Your label is wider than the  \labelwidth
>> allocated for the particular level of item nesting.
> 1) I am not too swift but very obstinate. Besides, I felt for all  
> these trees.
> So, I thought I would "try harder" and the first thing I did was to  
> get rid of "Question". Sure enough, the paragraph margin moved back  
> to the left. So, now, at least, the trees are safe. (But the  
> "easily confused" students I am dealing with liked the clear  
> delineation afforded by the word "Question".)

If you don't mind overlapping into the left margin,
you could include a negative kern; e.g.

    \renewcommand{\QuestionHeading}{\kern-20pt Question}

or perhaps better is

   \QuestionHeading} \jobname .1.]

> 2) I then read Companion 2ed and tried a number of variations on  
> inserting   \setlength{\leftmargin}
> I tried to insert  \setlength{\leftmargin}{25mm}

This is no good, since  \leftmargin  is not a constant.

It is a variable that gets re-calculated for each list environment,
based upon the current \textwidth  and the various  \leftmargini
  \leftmarginii ...  parameters.
This thwarts your effort to just change \leftmargin .

In Computer programming terms, a control-sequence name is just
a pointer, which internally indicates where some data is stored.
That data may be constant, or it may be variable.
TeX doesn't have strict typing to differentiate these cases.

> ---right after \documentclass[11pt]{book} and before \usepackage
> ---right after \usepackage
> ---right after \begin{document}
> I then tried the same with 0mm and then with -5mm
> I then tried the same with leftmargini, leftmarginii, leftmarginiii
> But the margin stayed put whatever i tried.

It looks like, from the example you posted previously,
that your lists are nested within at least one other list structure.
Maybe that outer structure is resetting the values of the margins
for any nested lists.

So again your efforts to just make a global change to some parameter
will be thwarted.  To find out what is really going on, you really
need to learn about tracing the macro expansions.
Consult the TeXbook for this, and always keep the Console
window readily available.

> 3) At this point, I see only two possibilities: i. Forget about  
> "Question" or ii. Study the "construct[ion of a] different  
> description list" as per page 147 of Companion 2ed. I think that I  
> will forget that one too.
> Still, I don't see what is so outlandish in requiring that the  
> labels be as in a theorem environment. (I can't use that because  
> the "enumerate" is intrinsic to probsoln which is what controls the  
> list of questions. )

Achieving this is a lot harder than you would think,
when your item labels are quite long.

> Very grateful regards
> --schremmer

Hope this helps,


Ross Moore                                       ross at maths.mq.edu.au
Mathematics Department                           office: E7A-419
Macquarie University                             tel: +61 (0)2 9850 8955
Sydney, Australia  2109                          fax: +61 (0)2 9850 8114

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