Every program has got to be able to distinguish between the commands and the substantive text that a command controls. It's no less true with Pathagoras and its plain text approach. We call the 'non-substantive' areas of a document 'administrative text.'

   Administrative text has the folliowing elements:

1.Boundary Markers. What demarks the beginning and end of the command block. In Pathagoras it is << and >> for a 'robust Option or Optional call' and for a Repeat block. (This boundary set is also used for a 'document call', but because there is no 'command' following the opening boundary, Pathagoras knows its purpose.)

2.A command (*Options* or <*Optional* or *Repeat*) (mandatory). The asterisks on each end of the command are an essential part of the command.

3.An 'argument' (optional) which refines the command and tells Pathagoras further goals of the command. E;g., *Options(radio)* tell Pathagoras to display the choices with single-select 'radio' buttons; *Repeat(and;)* tells Pathagoras to separate the repeating text with semi-colons and to add an 'and' before the last repeated text. The argument is within the command section (before the second '*').

4.A !groupname! (optional) to tie the answer of the first element of the group with remaining elements of the group further down in the document.

5.Prompts (optional) to offer short text snippets to guide (prompt) the user when making a decision regarding Options, Optional or Repeats.

6.If a groupname or prompts have been added to the command block, a closing asterisk must be placed at the end of the administrative text to signal its close. (If you have neither groupnames nor prompts, this third asterisk is not needed.)
 
You cannot have characters other than the above within the administrative text area. Pathagoras just won't know what to do with them, and it will fail in processing the block.

   Examples. Remember, the colors in the below examples are for emphasis only. They are not needed for proper structure. You can copy and past any (or all) of the below examples into a Word document. Process them by pressing <Alt-P>.

<<*Options*Federal Express/USPS (First Class)/UPS>>

   The administrative text above is simply the command "<<*Options*" and only 2 asterisks are used.

   Now imagine a longer version of the above:

<<*Options*Per your request, the widgets will be shipped by Federal Express and we will bill you for the extra cost of shipping./Per your request, we will send the widgets by standard First Class mail./Per your request, we ship your purchase via United Parcel Service.>>

    Without formal prompts, the first 200 characters of each choice will be presented as the text in the 'choices' screen as prompt text. That's a lot of reading. Time to use prompts!

   Prompts are used in the example below. Short, sweet, simple. Note the asterisk at the end of the prompts (i.e., the close of the administrative text):

<<*Options*FedEx/USPS (First Class)/UPS*Per your request, the widgets will be shipped by Federal Express and we will bill you for the extra cost of shipping./Per your request, we will send the widgets by standard First Class mail./Per your request, we ship your purchase via United Parcel Service.>>

    If a !groupname! is used, it must appear immediately after the command (and before any prompts). Note that the third asterisk (after the prompts) closes 'all' of the administrative text.

<<*Options*!Shipping!FedEx/USPS (First Class)/UPS*Per your request, the widgets will be shipped by Federal Express and we will bill you for the extra cost of shipping./Per your request, we will send the widgets by standard First Class mail./Per your request, we ship your purchase via United Parcel Service.>>

   If you have nested options/optional blocks, treat such blocks independently, and as if the nested block is 'substantive' for purposes of the outer block. So, while, in the below block, administrative text can be seen as spanning almost the entire first line, for purposes of the outer '*Optional*' block (and this rule), the administrative text ends after 'shipping?' and just before the nested '<<*Options* . . . block.

<<*Optional*Are we shipping?*<<*Options*!Shipping!FedEx/USPS (First Class)/UPS*Per your request, the widgets will be shipped by Federal Express and we will bill you for the extra cost of shipping./Per your request, we will send the widgets by standard First Class mail./Per your request, we ship your purchase via United Parcel Service.>>>>

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  *Aliases* and Administrative Text: Newcomers (and even not so newcomers) to Pathagoras may become a bit perplexed when *Aliases* (and their stars) are added to administrative text.That's a lot of asterisks at play. The link will take you to a separate article we have prepare on this topic. It's actually quite easy and logical.