pdfetex(1) PDF output from e-TeX

Other Alias

pdfeinitex, pdfevirtex


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


Run the pdfeTeX 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 pdfeTeX commands can be given, the first of which must start with a backslash. With a &format argument pdfeTeX uses a different set of precompiled commands, contained in format.fmt; it is usually better to use the -fmt format option instead.

pdfeTeX is a version of e-TeX that can create PDF files as well as DVI files.

In DVI mode, pdfeTeX can be used as a complete replacement of the e-TeX engine.

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

The pdfeinitex and pdfevirtex commands are pdfeTeX's analogues to the einitex and evirtex commands. In this installation, they are symbolic links to the pdfetex executable. These symbolic links may not exist at all.

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


This version of pdfeTeX 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
Enable the e-TeX extensions. This option is only effective in combination with -ini. See etex(1).
For documentation of the encTeX extensions see http://www.olsak.net/enctex.html. -file-line-error 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 pdfeTeX 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
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 pdfeTeX.
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 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 pdfeTeX formats, you cannot use ~ in a filename you give directly to pdfeTeX, 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, pdfeTeX 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 pdfetex paper and the current directory is not writable, if TEXMFOUTPUT has the value /tmp, pdfeTeX attempts to create /tmp/paper.log (and /tmp/paper.pdf, if any output is produced.)
Search path for \input and \openin files. This should probably 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/usr/tex:" to prepend the current directory and ``/home/user/tex'' to the standard search path.
Search path for format files.
search path for pdfetex internal strings.
Command template for switching to editor. The default, usually vi, is set when pdfeTeX 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 pdfeTeX's internal strings.
Filename mapping definitions.
Metric files for pdfeTeX's fonts.
Predigested pdfeTeX format (.fmt) files.


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


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

This version of pdfeTeX 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.


pdfeTeX is available for a large variety of machine architectures and operation systems. pdfeTeX is part of all major TeX distributions.

Information on how to get pdfeTeX and related information is available at the http://www.pdftex.org pdfTeX website.

The following pdfTeX related mailing list is available: [email protected]. This is a mailman list; to subscribe send a message containing subscribe to [email protected]. More about the list can be found at the http://tug.org/mailman/listinfo/pdftex mailing list website.


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

TeX was designed by Donald E. Knuth, who implemented it using his 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 to C system (web2c), originally written by Tomas Rokicki and Tim Morgan.

The encTeX extensions were written by Petr Olsak.