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“No line here to end”

The error

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

See the LaTeX manual or LaTeX Companion for explanation.

comes in reaction to you giving LaTeX a \\ command at a time when it’s not expecting it. The commonest case is where you’ve decided you want the label of a list item to be on a line of its own, so you’ve written (for example):

\item[Very long label] \\

\\ is actually a rather bad command to use in this case (even if it worked), since it would force the ‘paragraph’ that’s made up of the text of the item to terminate a line which has nothing on it but the label. This would lead to an “Underfull \hbox” warning message (usually with ‘infinite’ badness of 10000); while this message doesn’t do any actual harm other than slowing down your LaTeX run, any message that doesn’t convey any information distracts for no useful purpose.

The proper solution to the problem is to write a new sort of description environment, that does just what you’re after. (The LaTeX Companion offers a rather wide selection of variants of these things.)

The quick-and-easy solution, which avoids the warning, is to write:

\item[Very long label] \hspace*{\fill} \\

which fills out the under-full line before forcing its closure. The expdlist package provides the same functionality with its \breaklabel command, and mdwlist provides it via its \desclabelstyle command.

The other common occasion for the message is when you’re using the center (or flushleft or flushright) environment, and have decided you need extra separation between lines in the environment:

  First (heading) line\\
  body of the centred text...

The solution here is plain: use the \\ command in the way it’s supposed to be used, to provide more than just a single line break space. \\ takes an optional argument, which specifies how much extra space to add; the required effect in the text above can be had by saying:

  First (heading) line\\[\baselineskip]
  body of the centred text...

macros/latex/contrib/expdlist (or browse the directory)
Distributed as part of macros/latex/contrib/mdwtools (or browse the directory); catalogue entry

This answer last edited: 2011-06-01

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This is FAQ version 3.27, released on 2013-06-07.