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8.4 description

Synopsis:

\begin{description}
  \item[label of first item] text of first item
  \item[label of second item] text of second item
   ...
\end{description}

Environment to make a list of labeled items. Each item’s label is typeset in bold and is flush left, so that long labels continue into the first line of the item text. There must be at least one item; having none causes the LaTeX error ‘Something's wrong--perhaps a missing \item’.

This example shows the environment used for a sequence of definitions.

\begin{definition}
  \item[lama] A priest.
  \item[llama] A beast.
\end{definition}

The labels ‘lama’ and ‘llama’ are output in boldface, with the left edge on the left margin.

Start list items with the \item command (see \item). Use the optional labels, as in \item[Main point], because there is no sensible default. Following the \item is optional text, which may contain multiple paragraphs.

Since the labels are in bold style, if the label text calls for a font change given in argument style (see Font styles) then it will come out bold. For instance, if the label text calls for typewriter with \item[\texttt{label text}] then it will appear in bold typewriter, if that is available. The simplest way around this, in this example to get non-bold typewriter, is to use declarative style: \item[{\tt label text}]. Similarly, get the standard roman font with \item[{\rm label text}].

For other major LaTeX labelled list environments, see itemize and enumerate. Unlike those environments, nesting description environments does not change the default label; it is boldface and flush left at all levels.

For information about list layout parameters, including the default values, and for information about customizing list layout, see list. The package enumitem is useful for customizing lists.

This example changes the description labels to small caps.

\renewcommand{\descriptionlabel}[1]{%
  {\hspace{\labelsep}\textsc{#1}}}

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