pdftex man page

pdftex — PDF output from TeX


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


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

pdfTeX is a version of TeX, with the e-TeX extensions, that can create PDF files as well as DVI files.

In DVI mode, pdfTeX can be used as a complete replacement for the TeX engine.

The typical use of pdfTeX is with a pregenerated formats for which PDF output has been enabled. The pdftex command uses the equivalent of the plain TeX format, and the pdflatex command uses the equivalent of the LaTeX format. To generate formats, use the -ini switch.

The pdfinitex and pdfvirtex commands are pdfTeX's analogues to the initex and virtex commands. In this installation, if the links exist, they are symbolic links to the pdftex executable.

In PDF mode, pdfTeX can natively handle the PDF, JPG, JBIG2, and PNG graphics formats. pdfTeX cannot include PostScript or Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) graphics files; first convert them to PDF using epstopdf(1). pdfTeX's handling of its command-line arguments is similar to that of of the other TeX programs in the web2c implementation.


This version of pdfTeX understands the following command line options.

Sets \pdfdraftmode so pdfTeX doesn't write a PDF and doesn't read any included images, thus speeding up execution.
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. See etex(1).
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.
-fmt format
Use format as the name of the format to be used, instead of the name by which pdfTeX was called or a %& line.
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 or PDF 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
In DVI mode, use string for the DVI file comment instead of the date. This option is ignored in PDF mode.
-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.
-output-format format
Set the output format mode, where format must be either pdf or dvi. This also influences the set of graphics formats understood by pdfTeX.
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.
In DVI mode, insert source specials into the DVI file. This option is ignored in PDF mode.
-src-specials where
In DVI mode, 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. This option is ignored in PDF mode.
-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 Kpathsea library documentation (e.g., 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 pdfTeX formats, you cannot use ~ in a filename you give directly to pdfTeX, 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, pdfTeX 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 pdftex paper and the current directory is not writable and TEXMFOUTPUT has the value /tmp, pdfTeX attempts to create /tmp/paper.log (and /tmp/paper.pdf, 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 directory and “/home/user/tex” to the standard search path.
Search path for format files.
Command template for switching to editor. The default, usually vi, is set when pdfTeX is compiled.
Search path for font metric (.tfm) files.
If set, its value, taken to be in epoch-seconds, will be used for the timestamps in the PDF output, such as the CreationDate and ModDate keys. This is useful for making reproducible builds.
If set to the value "1", the time-related TeX primitives (\year, \month, \day, \time) are also initialized from the value of SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH. This is not recommended if there is any viable alternative.
pdfTeX also has several primitives to support reproducible builds, which are preferable to setting these environment variables; see the main manual.

Many, many more environment variables may be consulted related to path searching. See the Kpathsea manual.


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

Font name mapping definitions.
Metric files for pdfTeX's fonts.
Predigested pdfTeX format (.fmt) files.


Starting with version 1.40, pdfTeX incorporates the e-TeX extensions, and pdfeTeX is just a copy of pdfTeX. See etex(1). This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for this version of pdfTeX can be found in the pdfTeX manual and the info manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.


This version of pdfTeX 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. Whether a generated PDF file would be usable is unknown.


pdfTeX is available for a large variety of machine architectures and operating systems. pdfTeX is part of all major TeX distributions.
The pdfTeX home page: http://www.pdftex.org.
pdfTeX on CTAN: http://www.ctan.org/pkg/pdftex.
pdfTeX mailing list for all discussion: http://lists.tug.org/pdftex.

See Also

The full pdfTeX manual can be accessed from the home page or CTAN page. Same for the Web2C, Kpathsea, and other manuals. Some related programs: epstopdf(1), etex(1), latex(1), luatex(1), mptopdf(1), tex(1), mf(1).


The primary authors of pdfTeX are Han The Thanh, Petr Sojka, Jiri Zlatuska, and Peter Breitenlohner (eTeX).

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

dvipos(1), etex(1), gpg-key2latex(1), latex(1), linuxdoc(1), luatex(1), musixtex(1), pdfetex(1), pdftosrc(1), pdfxup(1), perltex(1), purifyeps(1), rubber(1), sgml2latex(1), thumbpdf(1), tpic2pdftex(1), ttftotype42(1), updmap(1), updmap.cfg(5).

Explore man page connections for pdftex(1).

pdflatex(1) is an alias of pdftex(1).

Web2C 4 May 2016