# LaTeX Description Lists with Dot Leaders

Datasheets for electronic components frequently present maximum ratings and other such specifications in the form of lists where a label, “Operating Temperature Range” for example, is separated from a value, say “-55 to 125 C”, by a dot leader, or row of dots intended to make it obvious which value belongs to which label. Maxim Integrated does this (page two), as does Microchip (page three), among many others. Here's a way to implement it in LaTeX.

A good choice semantically for representing this kind of information is LaTeX's description list, which has the following syntax:

\begin{description}
\item[Color] Blue
\item[Shape] Round
\end{description}

I changed the presentation of this list to look like the datasheet examples by defining a new environment (“specifications”) that extends the description list and redefines the \item command to insert a \dotfill, which produces the row of dots itself.

\documentclass[12pt, letter]{article}

\newenvironment{specifications}{%
\let\olditem\item%
\renewcommand\item[2][]{\olditem##1\dotfill##2}%
\begin{description}}{\end{description}%
}

\begin{document}

\begin{specifications}
\item[Input Voltage Range] 36-72 V DC
\item[Input Current] 80 mA
\item[Power over Ethernet] 802.3af-compliant Powered Device
\end{specifications}

\end{document}

Here's the result of this example:

The output looks like what I wanted and works just as expected inside multicol or minipage enviroments as well. Hopefully someone else can get some use out of it as well.

October 14, 2013