The l2h help pages © Leon van Dommelen
The latest version of this document is online at eng.famu.fsu.edu or at dommelen.net.

# Preface

This web page tries to give some help with error messages that may pop up while processing your latex file index.tex.


1. Check properly closing of math mode.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Counter too large.
1. Unless you are defining a very long list, you probably brought this upon yourself somehow. (Who else is readily available to be blamed?)
2. If you are really defining a long list, make sure it is a top level list, which is enumerated by arabic numbers. (Or learn how to define your own lists.)
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Environment ... undefined.

An attempt to use an environment that has never been defined.

1. Check for typos in the \begin{environment} line.
2. If it is part of a package, check the corresponding \usepackage command.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: File ...' not found

This error is serious because latex will terminate without finishing the document. The missing file may be a personal file that you are trying to \input. Or it may be a package you are trying to load with \usepackage that you do not have installed. If latex is trying to find a .sty, .cls, or .def file, it is a missing package.

1. If latex is missing a personal file, put it in the same folder as index.tex. Then do not use a path in the \input statement.
2. If latex is missing a package, try finding the file on the web and put it inside the "texinputs" folder inside "l2h". Note that you may have to run latex on any .ins or .dtx file you find to get the sty file.
3. If you are running latex though an editor like TeXstudio instead of through l2h, you may need to copy the files inside the "texinputs" folder inside "l2h" to the same folder as your document index.tex.
4. If your latex is very old, the package might not work. Try to do without the package. Or upgrade latex to a more recent version. Rerun install_l2h after that.
5. The missing file error is somewhat tricky when making web pages. While making web pages, latex might be looking for the file in the wrong folder. In general, make sure that you put your pictures in the same folder as index.tex. Not somewhere else. Or give latex a complete, (so-called absolute), path to the file. A "./", "../", or "subfolder/" path will not work.
6. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Float(s) lost.

Like it says; one or more figures, tables, etc., or marginpars have not been typeset. The actual error may be well before the point where the problem is recognized.

1. You cannot put pictures or tables in minipages or parboxes. Or in footnotes, or anything like that.
2. Putting something that has a floating location (figures, footnotes, ...) into something that also has a floating location causes this error. After all, where should LaTeX put, say, a footnote to a footnote? That does not make sense.
3. Is a picture or table in the wrong place?
4. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Illegal character in array arg.

For "array" read "array" or "tabular" or "multicolumn" or whatever. The argument in which you define the format of the columns seems to be messed up. The normal letters are r, l, and c. Howver, there is also @{} and p{}.

1. Read up on arrays, tables (tabular), or whatever on http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/. Then check for typos in the array/, tabular/, multicolumn/, whatever, environment parameters.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Lonely \item--perhaps a missing list environment.

An item command was found. Latex cannot figure out what list it belongs to.

1. Like it says? Cut and pasted something inside a list to outside it?
2. Check the \begin{...} statement of the list for typos.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Missing \begin{document}

When this happens to me, I have put something printable before the \begin{document} line. Usually I misspelled some nonprintable command, turning it into printable text. But you could actually forget the \begin{document} line itself, I guess.

1. Do not put any printable text before \begin{document}. Just packages, definitions, and such.
2. Check everything before \begin{document} for typos or other errors.
3. Apparently, misuse of \marginsize can also cause this error.
4. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Missing p-arg in array arg

For "array" read "array" or "tabular" or "multicolumn" or whatever.

1. While defining columns, there is a p not followed by {width} argument.
2. Read up on arrays, tables (tabular), or whatever on http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/. Then check for typos in the array, tabular, multicolumn, whatever, environment parameters.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Missing @-exp in array arg

For "array" read "array" or "tabular" or "multicolumn" or whatever.

1. Read up on arrays, tables (tabular), or whatever on http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/. Then check for typos in the array/, tabular/, multicolumn/, whatever, environment parameters.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: No such counter

A counter is undefined

1. Do not use \newcounter after \begin{document}.
2. If you use a special style file, (like one provided by your target journal), some standard counter may have been disabled by the journal style.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Not in outer par mode.

You put something, (figure, table, marginpar, ...), in the wrong place. They cannot be inside secondary environments.

1. A figure or table inside a parbox or minipage will not work.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Option clash for package ...

Your guess is better than mine.

1. Options to a package conflict with each other.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: \pushtabs and \poptabs don't match.

I think I have used the tabbing environment once, but I cannot remember when. Otherwise I use the tabular environment inside tables.

1. Check that every \pushtabs is closed by a corresponding \poptabs. You cannot close one \pushtabs by two \poptabs.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: \RequirePackage or \LoadClass in Options Section.

Should not be there.

1. Ahem! RequirePackage may not be used with \DeclareOption
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Something's wrong--perhaps a missing \item

One thing that is obviously wrong is the supply of meaningful error messages.

1. Like it says? Did you leave out the starting \item in an enumerate or other list environment?
2. Apparently, leaving the arguments away in a thebibliography environment can also trigger the above nugget of wisdom.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Suggested extra height (...) dangerously large.

Gee. You only live once. So live dangerously.

1. Too big a number in \enlargethispage.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: Tab overflow.

There are only so many tab stops possible. Don't ask how many.

1. Too many \= in a tabbing environment?
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! LaTeX Error: There's no line here to end


1. Blank lines are not allowed in math mode.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing = inserted for ...

TBA

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing { inserted

LaTeX decided it really needed a { and inserted one.

1. This is likely due to some earlier error.
2. And the insertion is likely to introduce subsequent errors.
3. Incorrect integral bounds can cause this error.
4. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing } inserted

LaTeX decided it really needed a } and inserted one.

1. This is likely due to some earlier error.
2. And the insertion is likely to introduce subsequent errors.
3. Check for still-open opening brackets.
4. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing control sequence inserted

A control sequence means a LaTeX command, like \backslash.

1. It is \[re]newcommand{\name}... but \[re]newenvironment{name}... Note the backslash. In plain TeX, you have \def\name{...}.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing delimiter inserted

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing \endcsname inserted

Typically, this occurs when you put a \ in front of an environment name.

1. Check for the above problem. For example, \begin{\itemize} should be \begin{itemize}.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing font identifier
1. Check your
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing number, treated as zero

Missing "number" might actually be a length.

1. Like it says? Check for presence and correctness of lengths and coordinates behind \parbox, \line, \circle, \put, ....
2. Remember that 0 is not a valid length. You must say 0in (inch) or 0pt (point) or something like it.
3. A [..] may have been mistaken for an optional argument. If so, try enclosing it in brackets like {[...]}. Like change \\[text] into \\{[text]}.
4. A misplaced \protect (before something like a length or a number) can also produce this error.
5. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Missing to' inserted

The "to" is not really used in LaTeX. It uses {} brackets for parameters.

1. A mispelled command?
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Not a letter

Hyphenation words must consist of letters and hyphens.

1. Using discretionary \- hyphens in the actual word is probably the best way to keep LaTeX from nagging you.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Number too big

Probably an indication that LaTeX is lost due to some error.

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! OK

OK.

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Only one # is allowed per tab
1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Output loop---

This should be very nasty, but I have never seen it.

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Output routine didn't use all of ...

Well, get the unused portion back.

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Paragraph ended before ... was complete

Parameters of commands, unless defined specially, cannot contain blank lines.

1. Check for a missing }.
2. Check for blank lines inside parameters of commands.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Parameters must be numbered consecutively

If you have this error, you probably know why.

1. In latex, you do not normally use plain tex \def definitions. If possible use \[re]newcommand.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Patterns can be loaded only by INITEX

I cannot imagine why any new user would want to load abstract hyphenation patterns.

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

1. Because you ask so nicely?
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Runaway argument

TeX has noted that an argument of a command does not seem properly closed by a }.

1. Check that each { has a proper closing }. Watch for mistaking ) for }.
2. You cannot use a verbatim-line environment (like verbatim, rawhtml, comment, ...) inside something else. They need to stand alone. (Although I have used rawhtml inside a command definition. Nothing is absolute.)

! \script...font ... is undefined (character ...)

In math mode, a special font is needed. It is not loaded

2. If your installation has only limited fonts, you can probably do without.
3. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! TeX capacity exceeded, sorry [...]

1. Line excessively long? Various MS Windows-type software insists to put an entire paragraph of output on a single line in the input file. That can exceed the TeX input line buffer. In TeX, you should break up these long lines. To get a paragraph break, in TeX you use a blank line. Not just a line break.
2. A missing } makes a parameter size explode?
3. A circular definition? (Something defined in terms of itself?)
4. Apparently, using some commands inside a fragile command can cause this. Try temporarily removing the contents.
5. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! \textfont ... is undefined (character ...)

In math mode, a special font is needed. It is not loaded

2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Text line contains an invalid character
1. Like it says? Check for weird characters in index.tex. Use a different editor if needed.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! This can't happen (

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Too late for ...

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Too many }'s

Sometimes they are hard to count. Or you may have missed a {.

1. Missing a \begin{...} statement can cause this.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Unbalanced output routine

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Unbalanced write command

1. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Undefined control sequence

A command you are using is not defined by you, or the system.

1. Did you misspell the command?
2. Is whatever is supposed to define the command missing or misspelled? (Like the \documentclass command, the \usepackage{...}, the \input{...}, or whatever?)
3. Is the command used out of context? (Like an \item not in a list?)
4. Interestingly, a footnote inside a footnote can apparently cause this error.
5. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! Use of ... does not match its definition

You are using a valid command in the wrong way. In particular, the stuff immediately following the command is not in the right format. (A "command" might really be an environment.)

1. Did you misspell the command?
2. Check the proper command format in a LaTeX manual.
3. Are you using the command itself right, but is something in its parameters not right? Like \put(10,10){\line...} where the \line... is invalid?
4. Try using {} brackets around command parameters.
5. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! You already have nine parameters

TeX macro definitions have a maximum of 9 arguments. (Being #1 to #9.) But you are unlikely to hit that limit as a new LaTeX user.

1. Watch for potential problems with a # character.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! You can't dump inside a group
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! You can't use macro parameter character #' in ... mode

A # character is where it should not be.

1. An actual # must be written as \#.
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

! You can't use a prefix with ...'
1. Who says I can't? I just did, didn't I?
2. If stumped, try the general tricks.

References:
• Leslie Lamport's "LaTex User's guide & Reference Manual". Addison-Wesley 1986.
• http://www.cs.utexas.edu/~witchel/errorclasses.html
• Personal experiences.
 Index Intro to LaTeX