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This error appears when you have forgotten to include an \item command. It can also appear from trying to use lists inside a table incorrectly.

Common Causes

Forgetting to write \item:

The most basic example of this error is where you have told LaTeX that you are going to be writing a list, but you have not labelled your list entries with \item tags. An example of this is shown below

This is the first entry in our list

Here, you have told LaTeX that you are writing a list by using the itemize environment. The mistake that is made is that you haven't labelled your list entry with \item. This will generate the error shown below:

main.tex, line 6

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

See the LaTeX manual or LaTeX Companion for explanation. Type H <return> for immediate help. ... l.6 \end{itemize} Try typing <return> to proceed. If that doesn't work, type X <return> to quit.

The correct way to write this list is:

\item This is the first entry in our list

See here to learn more about how to make different types of lists in LaTeX.

Writing lists inside tables incorrectly:

This error will also appear if you try to number cells within a table using lists, as shown below.

  \item This is item number one\\ \hline
  \item This is item number two

This is a mistake, as lists cannot be used to number table cells in this way. One way to solve the problem above would be to create a counter. This can be done by including


in the preamble to your document (see here). You can then write the above example as

\begin{tabular}{l r}
  \rownumber & This is item number one\\ \hline
  \rownumber & This is item number two


To learn more about how to create counters, check out our documentation.

Overleaf guides

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Advanced TeX/LaTeX