etex man page

etex — extended (plain) TeX


etex [options] [&format] [file|\commands]


Run the e-TeX typesetter on file, by default creating file.dvi. If the file argument has no extension, ".tex" will be appended to it. Instead of a filename, a set of e-TeX commands can be given, the first of which must start with a backslash. With a &format argument e-TeX uses a different set of precompiled commands, contained in format.fmt; it is usually better to use the -fmt format option instead.

e-TeX is the first concrete result of an international research & development project, the NTS Project, which was established under the aegis of DANTE e.V. during 1992. The aims of the project are to perpetuate and develop the spirit and philosophy of TeX, whilst respecting Knuth's wish that TeX should remain frozen.

e-TeX can be used in two different modes: in compatibility mode it is supposed to be completely interchangable with standard TeX. In extended mode several new primitives are added that facilitate (among other things) bidirectional typesetting.

An extended mode format is generated by prefixing the name of the source file for the format with an asterisk (*).

e-TeX's handling of its command-line arguments is similar to that of the other TeX programs in the web2c implementation.


This version of e-TeX understands the following command line options.

-fmt format
Use format as the name of the format to be used, instead of the name by which e-TeX was called or a %& line.
Enable the encTeX extensions. This option is only effective in combination with -ini. For documentation of the encTeX extensions see http://www.olsak.net/enctex.html.
Enable the e-TeX extensions. This option is only effective in combination with -ini.
Print error messages in the form file:line:error which is similar to the way many compilers format them.
Disable printing error messages in the file:line:error style.
This is the old name of the -file-line-error option.
Exit with an error code when an error is encountered during processing.
Print help message and exit.
Start in INI mode, which is used to dump formats. The INI mode can be used for typesetting, but no format is preloaded, and basic initializations like setting catcodes may be required.
-interaction mode
Sets the interaction mode. The mode can be either batchmode, nonstopmode, scrollmode, and errorstopmode. The meaning of these modes is the same as that of the corresponding \commands.
Send DVI output to a socket as well as the usual output file. Whether this option is available is the choice of the installer.
As -ipc, and starts the server at the other end as well. Whether this option is available is the choice of the installer.
-jobname name
Use name for the job name, instead of deriving it from the name of the input file.
-kpathsea-debug bitmask
Sets path searching debugging flags according to the bitmask. See the Kpathsea manual for details.
-mktex fmt
Enable mktexfmt, where fmt must be either tex or tfm.
Enable MLTeX extensions. Only effective in combination with -ini.
-no-mktex fmt
Disable mktexfmt, where fmt must be either tex or tfm.
-output-comment string
Use string for the DVI file comment instead of the date.
-output-directory directory
Write output files in directory instead of the current directory. Look up input files in directory first, the along the normal search path.
If the first line of the main input file begins with %& parse it to look for a dump name or a -translate-file option.
Disable parsing of the first line of the main input file.
-progname name
Pretend to be program name. This affects both the format used and the search paths.
Enable the filename recorder. This leaves a trace of the files opened for input and output in a file with extension .fls.
Enable the \write18{command} construct. The command can be any shell command. This construct is normally disallowed for security reasons.
Disable the \write18{command} construct, even if it is enabled in the texmf.cnf file.
Insert source specials into the DVI file.
-src-specials where
Insert source specials in certain placed of the DVI file. where is a comma-separated value list: cr, display, hbox, math, par, parent, or vbox.
-translate-file tcxname
Use the tcxname translation table to set the mapping of input characters and re-mapping of output characters.
-default-translate-file tcxname
Like -translate-file except that a %& line can overrule this setting.
Print version information and exit.


See the Kpathsearch library documentation (the `Path specifications' node) for precise details of how the environment variables are used. The kpsewhich utility can be used to query the values of the variables.

One caveat: In most e-TeX formats, you cannot use ~ in a filename you give directly to e-TeX, because ~ is an active character, and hence is expanded, not taken as part of the filename. Other programs, such as Metafont, do not have this problem.

Normally, e-TeX puts its output files in the current directory. If any output file cannot be opened there, it tries to open it in the directory specified in the environment variable TEXMFOUTPUT. There is no default value for that variable. For example, if you say etex paper and the current directory is not writable, if TEXMFOUTPUT has the value /tmp, e-TeX attempts to create /tmp/paper.log (and /tmp/paper.dvi, if any output is produced.) TEXMFOUTPUT is also checked for input files, as TeX often generates files that need to be subsequently read; for input, no suffixes (such as “.tex”) are added by default, the input name is simply checked as given.
Search path for \input and \openin files. This should start with “.”, so that user files are found before system files. An empty path component will be replaced with the paths defined in the texmf.cnf file. For example, set TEXINPUTS to ".:/home/user/tex:" to prepend the current direcory and “/home/user/tex” to the standard search path.
Search path for format files.
search path for etex internal strings.
Command template for switching to editor. The default, usually vi, is set when e-TeX is compiled.
Search path for font metric (.tfm) files.


The location of the files mentioned below varies from system to system. Use the kpsewhich utility to find their locations.

Text file containing e-TeX's internal strings.
Filename mapping definitions.
Metric files for e-TeX's fonts.
Predigested e-TeX format (.fmt) files.


Starting with version 1.40, pdfTeX incorporates the e-TeX extensions, so in this installation eTeX may be just a symbolic link to pdfTeX. See pdftex(1). This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for this version of e-TeX can be found in the info manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.


This version of e-TeX implements a number of optional extensions. In fact, many of these extensions conflict to a greater or lesser extent with the definition of e-TeX. When such extensions are enabled, the banner printed when e-TeX starts is changed to print e-TeXk instead of e-TeX.

This version of e-TeX fails to trap arithmetic overflow when dimensions are added or subtracted. Cases where this occurs are rare, but when it does the generated DVI file will be invalid.

See Also

pdftex(1), tex(1), mf(1).


e-TeX was developed by Peter Breitenlohner and the NTS team; Peter later continued its development outside of the team.

TeX was designed by Donald E. Knuth, who implemented it using his Web system for Pascal programs. It was ported to Unix at Stanford by Howard Trickey, and at Cornell by Pavel Curtis. The version now offered with the Unix TeX distribution is that generated by the Web to C system (web2c), originally written by Tomas Rokicki and Tim Morgan.

The encTeX extensions were written by Petr Olsak.

Referenced By

fmtutil.cnf(5), luatex(1), musixtex(1), pdftex(1).

Explore man page connections for etex(1).

Web2C 1 March 2011