Put the names of \labels and other commands into the margins of a draft document.

Version 1.8, 2016 June 9,

This class option helps you keep track of all the labels in your documents, by putting the name of the new label into the margin whenever either the \label command is used, or an equation is automatically numbered. It is compatible with the amsmath and hyperref packages.

It is similar to, but does a little more than, the showkeys package.

You invoke this package with the command \usepackage{showlabels} in the preamble. You can control where the labels appear – in the margins or in the interline gaps – and you can change the appearance of the formatted labels to some extent.

As well, you can have the arguments to other commands besides \label displayed. This is fairly obviously useful for the \cite command, but it can be useful for \ref or \begin as well.

The package will also work in the presence of the [twocolumn] option. In this case, the options [inner] and [outer] will be ignored, and the label will be placed in the nearer margin.

Compatibility and problems

For reasonably obvious reasons, this package will not work at all well with the multicol package, and for possibly less obvious reasons, it won't work with the [leqno] option either (at some point it should be modified to at least recognise and warn of the conflict in either case). The package can occasionally place labels in the wrong margins, near the top of a page – see the documentation for a discussion of this.

Download and installation

  1. Download the file showlabels-1.8.tar.gz or and unpack it.
  2. Run LaTeX on the file showlabels.ins – this will unpack the style file showlabels.sty amongst other files. Place this somewhere where TeX can find it.
  3. Run LaTeX on the file showlabels.dtx to obtain the documentation.


This work is Copyright 1999, 2001-09, 2013-16, Norman Gray, and may be distributed and/or modified under the conditions of the LaTeX Project Public Licence, either version 1.3 of this licence or (at your option) any later version.


1.8, 2016 June 9
The ntheorem package exposed an apparently long-standing incompleteness in the handling of amsmath documents. Fixes issue 9.
1.7, 2015 December 8
Release v1.7.
1.7b2, 2015 December 7
Make the combination of amsmath and [inline] mode work (fixes issue 8 – thanks to A L Dukeman for the report; what is it about showlabels and 6 December?!).
1.7b1, 2014 December 6
This is a much-delayed bugfix release (by coincidence exactly a year after the previous release!).
1.6.6, 2013 December 6
1.6.5, 2009 May 27
Fixed a bug in the way that labels including underscores (and other ‘exotic’ characters) were displayed.
1.6.4, 2008 October 10
Fixed another poor interaction between eqnarray and amsart. Now we get equation labels in eqnarray, and we don't get marginal notes about \eqref (which is good; might this finally be fixed?).
1.6.3, 2008 July 24
Release 1.6.2 broke compatibility with the rest of amsmath (eqnarray became the only thing that worked within amsmath)! Fixed. Doh!
1.6.2, 2008 June 27
The reimplementation of eqnarray within amsart was such that equation labels disappeared in that case. Fixed.
1.6.1, 2007 June 17
Fix an errant test, which mangled equation labels starting with two identical letters.
1.6, 2006 May 26
The \showlabels command will now work with commands (such as \cite or \includegraphics) which take an optional argument.
1.5a, 2005 March 17
Defined \showlabelfont using \ttfamily rather than \tt (I'd avoided doing this before to avoid a seemingly pointless incompatibility with LaTeX 2.09, but (a) I imagine the package is incompatible with that for other reasons, and (b) it's really not worth the hassle...).
1.5, 2004 October 8
Added \showlabelfont and \showlabelsetlabel commands, allowing customisation of the printed labels. Added and documented options [final], [draft] (the former makes this package do nothing; the latter is the default behaviour).
1.4a, 2003 January 28
Acquired the [left] and [right] options, and fixed a bug which affected \label commands in captions.
1.4, 2001 July 24
Became (more) compatible with the wrapfig package. Also, I added the \showlabels command, to have the package display references to commands other than \label (\cite and \ref are obvious ones), and an [inline] option to have labels (etc.) displayed inline where possible, rather than always in the margin.
1.3e, 2001 May 30
Became compatible with the hyperref package in particular, and in general with other packages which themselves modify the \label command. This will work, however, only if the showlabels package is loaded after other packages which do this. Notwithstanding Sebastian Rahtz's excellent general advice on this, showlabels should indeed be loaded after hyperref.

After a long delay, here is an updated version of my showlabels package. It corrects all the reported bugs which I could reproduce, namely:

1.1, 2001?
Modified to conform to the slightly different mechanism that amsmath uses to produce equation numbers. I don't habitually use amsmath, so I won't discover any bugs or weaknesses with its support here, and I'd consequently be glad to be informed of any that appear. Do note that the \usepackage{showlabels} command must appear after the \usepackage{amsmath} if it is to detect that you are using the amsmath package. Note also that, since these additions appeared, AMS-LaTeX and the amstex package seem to have been declared ‘obsolete’ in favour of the amsmath package. This package now claims conformance with the amsmath package alone, though it will probably work with older versions in fact.
Original release
The package was originally released by me on 1991 September 21, under the name labels.sty. On 1992 January 29, Darrel Hankerson (, made the update to NFSS, and changed the name to showlabel.sty.
Norman Gray
2016 June 9