(See PdfLatexNotes)



pdftex, pdfinitex, pdfvirtex - PDF output from TeX


pdftex [''options''? [''commands''?


This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for this version of TEX can be found in the info file or manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.

pdfTEX is a version of TEX that can create PDF files as well as DVI files.

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 L A TEX format.

The pdfinitex and pdfvirtex commands are pdfTEX's analogues to the initex and virtex commands. In this installation, they are symlinks to the pdftex executable.

pdfTEX's handling of its command-line arguments is similar to that of TEX.

pdfTEX is beta software.


This version of pdfTEX understands the following command line options.


Print error messages in the form file:line:error which is similar to the way many compilers format them.

--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.


Print help message and exit.


Be pdfinitex, for dumping formats; this is implicitly true if the program is called as pdfinitex.

--interaction mode

Sets the interaction mode. The mode can be one of 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.

--kpathsea-debug bitmask

Sets path searching debugging flags according to the bitmask. See the Kpathsea manual for details.

--maketex fmt

Enable mktexfmt, where fmt must be one of tex or tfm.

--no-maketex fmt

Disable mktexfmt, where fmt must be one of tex or tfm.

--output-comment string

Use string for the DVI file comment instead of the date.

--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 Bourne shell command. This construct is normally disallowed for security reasons.

--translate-file tcxname

Use the tcxname translation table.


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 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 M ETAFONT , 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, if TEXMFOUTPUT has the value /tmp, pdfTEX 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


Search path for font metric (.tfm) files.


Search path for format files.


search path for pdfinitex internal strings.


Command template for switching to editor. The default, usually vi, is set when pdfTEX is compiled.


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


Encoded text of pdfTEX's messages.

Filename mapping definitions.


Metric files for pdfTEX's fonts.


Predigested pdfTEX format (.fmt) files.


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 beta software. Subscribe to the pdftex mailing list if you intend to use it. This is a majordomo list, to subscribe send a message containing subscribe pdftex to


tex(1), mf(1).


The primary authors of pdfTEX are Han The Thanh, Petr Sojka, and Jiri Zlatuska.

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