Suppose you have a very long code in which many new functions are created. For efficient programming, very short and easily iterated function names are preferred.

For example,


can be named as


Obviously, the latter function rf[] is preferable in such example as:


because it is easy to write. However, if I come back to the same function later on, I might not remember what rf[x] does.


Given a notebook, is there any way to keep track the function names with some explanatory note so that I can recall the names at will?

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    $\begingroup$ If you expect to modify/maintain something you have written later on, "because it is easy to write" ranks quite low on the list of reasons to pick a function name. More so if your memory is not the best. $\endgroup$ – J. M. will be back soon Oct 9 '18 at 16:30

Set a usage message

rf::usage = "rf[x] is short for runningFast[x]";

when you type rf you can click the help button that pops up as you type, or evaluate


to get the usage message.

A tip from @m_goldberg in the comments is to put the usage statements in initialization cells in an auxiliary notebook, and include that notebook in your working notebook with a call to Needs.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, it is an answer to my question. I wonder if there is any way to keep all of the usage messages in a separate notebook linked to the notebook where they are created. The reason is that I like to have an uncluttered notebook (without explanatory notes) and retrieve the names not as single elements but retrieve the entire notebook where the names are stored like a separate window open when I create other names.. $\endgroup$ – Tugrul Temel Oct 9 '18 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ @TugrulTemel. You can put the the usage message definitions in an auxiliary notebook. Make all the definition cells initialization cells. Put a Needs function call at beginning of you working notebook to load the messages. Make the cell with the Needs call an initialization cell as well. $\endgroup$ – m_goldberg Oct 10 '18 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ @m_goldberg: Thanks for the very useful piece of information. I want to accept your comment as an answer, how can I do that? $\endgroup$ – Tugrul Temel Oct 10 '18 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ @TugrulTemel. You can't accept a comment, but you can accept the the answer it is attached to, which is what I recommend. I made my remarks a comment so as not to set up a rival answer to this one. $\endgroup$ – m_goldberg Oct 10 '18 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ @m_goldberg: I added your suggestion to the body of my answer (with attribution). $\endgroup$ – Daniel W Oct 10 '18 at 15:20

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