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This file documents LaTeX2RTF , a converter that translates LaTeX to RTF.

Copyright 1998-2002 Georg Lehner,
updates Copyright 1999-2006 by Wilfried Hennings and Scott Prahl,
with contributions by Mikhail Polianski.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided also that the sections entitled “Copying” and “GNU General Public License” are included exactly as in the original, and provided that the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified versions, except that this permission notice may be stated in a translation approved by the Free Software Foundation.

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1 Introduction

LaTeX2RTF is a translator program from LaTeX text into “rich text format” files. These files are commonly referred to as RTF files. RTF is a published standard format by Microsoft. This standard can be ambiguous in places and Microsoft ignores parts of the standard it finds inconvenient, but RTF is widely used by many WYSIWIG text editors and is supported by Microsoft Word and most text processors.

LaTeX2RTF translates the text and as much of the formatting information from LaTeX to RTF. Be forewarned that the typeset output is not nearly as good as what you would get from using LaTeX directly. So, why bother translating? Consider,

  1. You use LaTeX and hate everything beginning with MS-.... Nevertheless, you have to share your documents with people who don't even now that there exist other things than MS-....
  2. You know somebody who frequently sends you very fine LaTeX documents. Unfortunately, you are “on the other side” and need to import her files, steal some part, and then desktop publish it in your fine MS-... environment.
  3. You like LaTeX and BibTeX . You interact with the rest of the world. You know someone that wants to include your writing in a her Word document.

There are drawbacks to the conversion process. In fact, don't expect any LaTeX file to be converted as you would like, don't expect it to be converted without errors or warnings, and don't be especially surprised when it doesn't convert at all. LaTeX2RTF is known to have many bugs and many missing features. Paradoxically, this number seems to grow more and more with each day. However, we can categorically state that there are some special cases, in which a LaTeX file will be translated to RTF satisfactorily by LaTeX2RTF — This was sort of disclaimer, ok? OK!

LaTeX is a system for typesetting text and therefore it focuses on the logical structure of a document, whilst RTF is meant to be a transport format for a family of Desktop Publishing Software, dealing mostly with the design of a text.

Although the possible different commands and styles in LaTeX are much more flexible and standardized than in RTF, only a small subset of commands has been implemented to date. See Unimplemented Features.

Some of the capabilities of LaTeX2RTF are restricted in scope or buggy. See Known Bugs.

RTF is a moving target, because Microsoft does not stop inventing new extensions and features, consequently you cannot view newer RTF files with older word processors. The syntax and semantics of RTF are somewhat artistic, i.e., you can generate a syntactically correct RTF file that cannot be displayed by some/most word processors. For more details on RTF the specification consult the links at

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2 Installation

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2.1 General

The documentation of the program is found in the doc/ directory in the file latex2rtf.texi in the GNU TeXInfo format. For your convenience, you can find HTML and PDF versions of the manual there as well.

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2.2 Obtaining LaTeX2RTF

LaTeX2RTF is available for many Unix Platforms, for the Macintosh, and for MS-DOS, including all versions of MS Windows.

The latest version of LaTeX2RTF is available at SourceForge and — with some delay — on CTAN sites: e.g., or

The MS-DOS version (1.8aa and up) will also run under all MS Windows versions. It requires an i386 processor or better.

The Win32 distribution (starting from LaTeX2RTF 1.9.15) is the MS-DOS version plus Win32 GUI program (l2rshell).

There is one person working on LaTeX2RTF , coordinated by Wilfried Hennings (W.Hennings "at" See the SourceForge project pages for the latest news.

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2.3 UNIX

To install,

  1. Edit Makefile for your local configuration. In particular, pay attention to the PREFIX variable. If you do not have root access you might wish to set the makefile variable PREFIX to be your home directory.

    On some machines the cc compiler will issue errors. Therefore the default compiler command in the Makefile is CC=gcc.

  2. As of version 1.9.13, LaTeX2RTF supports conversion of LaTeX equations to bitmaps using the shell script latex2png, found in scripts/. latex2png requires that both LaTeX and ImageMagick are installed. LaTeX2RTF will translate documents without a working latex2png, but some features will be missing. You can verify that the latex2png script is working by typing make in the scripts/ directory.
  3. make

    If this is not your first time installation, you may want to preserve your old configuration (*.cfg) files. Copy them to a safe place before installing.

    On IBM AIX, the IBM make utility does not support some of the commands used in Makefile. In this case use gmake (from GNU) instead.

    Sun has decided to support the XPG4 standard on Solaris by an alternative set of binaries. To allow bitmap conversion of equations, two things are needed. First, change the first line of latex2png to #!/usr/xpg4/bin/sh Second, define the XPG4_GREP environment variable accordingly, for bash-like shells XPG4_GREP=/usr/xpg4/bin/grep; export XPG4_GREP or for tsch-like shells setenv XPG4_GREP /usr/xpg4/bin/grep.

  4. make install

    If your mkdir doesn't support the -p option, then create the necessary directories by hand and remove the option from the $MKDIR variable. If you have other problems, just copy latex2rtf and latex2png to a binary directory, and move the contents of the cfg/ directory to the location specified by $CFG_INSTALL.

  5. make check

    [OPTIONAL] This tests LaTeX2RTF on a variety of LaTeX files. Expect a whole lot of warnings, but no outright errors. (On IBM AIX, use gmake check.) Note that this will check the basic functionality of the latex2png script, and then that of latex2rtf.

  6. make install-info

    [OPTIONAL] This installs .info files for use with the info program.

You no longer need to define the environment variable RTFPATH. This is only necessary if you move the directory containing the .cfg files. Just define RTFPATH to be the path for the new location of the cfg directory.

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2.4 DOS or Windows

The UNIX and Mac distributions do not contain an executable for DOS or Windows. Instead, get the DOS port as file or the Windows (Win32 = Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT, Win2000, WinXP) version as file latex2rtf-x.x.x_win.exe (where x.x.x is the version number) from SourceForge

The DOS distribution contains a precompiled executable which should run under plain DOS and also in the command prompt (or "console") of any MS Windows system.

The Win32 version starting from 1.9.14a has the same executable but additionally an optional Win32 GUI interface (LaTeX2RTF Shell) and is wrapped in an automatic installer, See Win32 systems.

To install latex2rtf, extract all files from the zip archive to C:\l2r or to another folder (i.e. directory) of your choice, preserving the folder structure (winzip: check "use folder names").
If you extracted them to another folder (e.g. C:\Program Files\l2r), edit the files L2R.BAT, L2RSEM.BAT and L2RPREP.BAT and change the folder C:\l2r to where you put them. If there is a blank in any of the folder names (as in e.g. "Program Files"), then you need to enclose both the file-ID and the cfg path in double quotes, e.g.
"C:\Program Files\l2r\latex2rt" -P "C:\Program Files\l2r\cfg" %1 %2 ...
or use the DOS filename equivalent instead, e.g.
C:\Progra~1\l2r\latex2rt -P C:\Progra~1\l2r\cfg %1 %2 ...

If you install LaTeX2RTF under WinNT, Win2000 or WinXP and you want other users to be able to use LaTeX2RTF , you must assign the files and folders appropriate user permissions (at least read & execute). If you don't know about user permissions, put LaTeX2RTF into C:\Program Files\l2r or what else the standard folder for installing applications is named (e.g. in the German version it is C:\Programme\l2r).

Make sure that the folder containing the file L2RPREP.BAT is in your search path, or put this file into a folder which is in your search path (e.g. C:\Windows).
To display the current search path, enter path from the command prompt (with no arguments).

To add a folder – e.g. C:\l2r – to the search path:

To start the program under Windows,
open a command prompt (or console window)
– under DOS you are already at the command prompt –,
use cd <folder> to make the folder with your TeX files the current folder,
then enter either L2R <filename> <options> or L2RSEM <filename> <options>
where <filename> is the name of your TeX file without the .tex extension.
L2R.BAT and L2RSEM.BAT only differ in the character being used as parameter separator in the EQ fields, see chapter Equations.

If your LaTeX document refers to external graphic files, e.g. eps, or you want to use the option to convert equations to bitmaps (-M# where # is greater than 3), you must have TeX, ImageMagick and Ghostscript installed. These programs are freely available for download at, and This works only on win32 systems (Win95, Win98, WinME, WinNT4, Win2000, WinXP) because ImageMagick is available only for win32, not for pure DOS.

Either the folders where TeX, ImageMagick and Ghostscript are installed must be in your search path, or you must edit the file L2RPREP.BAT, ensure that the pathes in this file point to the folders where TeX, ImageMagick and Ghostscript are installed on your machine, and call L2RPREP once after opening your command prompt window and before calling l2r, l2rsem or latex2rt. Under Windows you can create another command prompt link in which you can include the call to L2RPREP.BAT.

LaTeX2RTF first writes a temporary .tex file to disk which consists of only the equation to be converted. It then sends the call for latex2pn.bat to the operating system. There were problems that this didn't work although manually calling latex2pn.bat from the command prompt worked.
There were several bugs in interfacing between Windows XP and DJGPP which finally caused this. One fix needed was truncating the filename of latex2png.bat to the DOS convention of 8.3 characters so that it is now named latex2pn.bat and the executable program latex2rt.exe. The other fix is now hardcoded in latex2rt.exe, making sure the DOS environment space in which latex2pn.bat is executed is large enough to store the needed variables.

If you get the message "Out of environment space" (should occur only under plain DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows ME) then
add to your config.sys a line like the following
or, if there already is such a line, modify it so that it supplies a sufficiently large environment space /E:. Shutdown and reboot the PC.

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2.5 Win32 systems

To install LaTeX2RTF on a Win32 system (Win9x, WinME, WinNT, Win2000, WinXP), download and execute the latex2rtf-x.x.x_win.exe (where x.x.x is the version number) and follow the instructions.

To start the program double-click the LaTeX2RTF icon, or drag and drop a .tex file onto the icon.

If your LaTeX document refers to external graphic files, e.g. eps, or you want to use the option to convert equations to bitmaps, you must have LaTeX, ImageMagick and Ghostscript installed. These programs are freely available for download at, and

If MikTeX, ImageMagick and Ghostscript are installed before installing LaTeX2RTF , the pathes to the executables are automatically found in the windows registry by the installer. Otherwise, these pathes may have to be specified manually in the "Environment" tab of the LaTeX2RTF window.

If you get the message "Out of environment space" (should occur only under Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows ME) then
add to your config.sys a line like the following
or, if there already is such a line, modify it so that it supplies a sufficiently large environment space /E:. Shutdown and reboot the PC.

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2.6 Macintosh

If you want a MacOS X version, make sure that you have installed the developer tools CD that is appropriate for your OS version, and then follow the directions above for a UNIX installation. Alternatively you can install using fink or as an i-installer package

As of 2006-01-30 there also is a GUI shell for Macintosh.

There is a PPC port of an old version 1.9k for Classic MacOS LaTeX2RTF. To convert a LaTeX file using this version, drag the file onto the LaTeX2RTF icon. The translation is best if there are .aux and .bbl files in the same folder as the .tex file to be converted. These should be generated using LaTeX and bibtex.

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2.7 Problems Compiling

The code for LaTeX2RTF is standard ANSI C. Some possible pitfalls are

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2.8 Problems with make check

All the files in the test directory are converted (with varying degrees of success) using LaTeX2RTF and are tested before most CVS check-ins and with all released tarballs. There will be many warning messages, but there should be no actual error messages. If you do not have a working latex2png script, then some of the files will fail to be translated.

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3 Using LaTeX2RTF

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3.1 General Assumptions

LaTeX2RTF assumes that the .tex file you want to convert is a valid LaTeX document. The chances of a successful LaTeX2RTF conversion are slightly better than the proverbial snowball's if the .tex file doesn't latex properly. Use LaTeX to find and correct errors before using LaTeX2RTF .

To correctly convert font names you must edit the fonts.cfg configuration file. This file is used to specify the needed font names and how the LaTeX default font names should be converted to RTF. See Font Configuration. LaTeX variables and user defined commands are not evaluated. They will be simply ignored. To let LaTeX2RTF know the names of variables you can add them in the ignore.cfg file. See Ignore Command.

The environment variable RTFPATH may contain a search path for the support files (all files ending in .cfg). If no file is found during the search in the search-path or if the environment variable is not set, the compiled-in default for the configuration-file directory is used. If the files are not found at all the program aborts.

In the MS-DOS version the search path is separated by `;' in the Unix version by `:'. For the paths themselves apply `\' and `/'. A separator may appear at the beginning or ending of RTFPATH.

Make sure that the configuration files are in the correct directory. LaTeX2RTF will need at least fonts.cfg, direct.cfg, ignore.cfg, english.cfg. You may have to change one ore more of them to suit your needs. See Configuration.

See Missing options, for actual implementations irregularities.

See Reporting Bugs, for information on how to reach the maintainer.

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3.2 LaTeX2RTF Options

The LaTeX2RTF command converts a LaTeX file into RTF text format. The text and much of the formatting information is translated to RTF making the new file look similar to the original. The command line syntax is:

     latex2rtf [-options] inputfile.[tex]

The -options may consist of one or more of the following

-a auxfile
specify an .aux file (for table and figure references) that differs from inputfile.aux. If this is omitted, the name of the inputfile with the suffix replaced .aux'will be taken. You must provide both files (.tex and the .aux) to be able to convert cross-references in a LaTeX file. The .aux is created by running the inputfile.tex through latex.
-b bblfile
Unless an bblfile is specified with the -b option, LaTeX2RTF uses a inputfile.bbl. The bblfile file is used for citations and is typically created by running inputfile.aux through bibtex.
-C codepage
used to specify the character set (code page) used in the LaTeX document. This is only important when non-ansi characters are included in the LaTeX document. Typically this is done in a LaTeX2e file by using \usepackage[codepage]{inputenc} This command is not needed if the above command is already in the LaTeX2e file. You may select any of the following code pages: ansinew, applemac, cp437, cp437de, cp850, cp852, cp865, decmulti, cp1250, cp1252, latin1, latin2, latin3, latin4, latin5, latin9, next. The default behavior is to use ansinew (code page 1252). Cyrillic support includes conversion of koi8-r, koi8-u, cp1251, cp855, cp866, maccyr, and macukr encodings.
-d debug_level
The -d option determines the amount of debugging information to send to stderr while translating. debug_level=0 means only Errors, `1' Warning Messages (default) also. The debug_level can go as high as `7' for insane amounts of debugging fun.
-D dots_per_inch
used to specify the number of dots per inch for equations converted to bitmaps. This value is also used when picture environments are converted to bitmaps as well as when EPS graphics are converted to png files. The default value is 300 dots per inch.
where # selects which fields to use during conversion:
do not use fields in RTF. This is handy when primitive RTF editors are being used to view the RTF output.
use fields for equations but not \ref and \cite.
use fields for \ref and \cite but not equations. This will be useful for versions of OpenOffice that import cross-references properly (as of Sept 2003 in a soon-to-be released version) but do not properly handle fields in equations.
use fields when possible. This is the default and is most useful when the RTF file is being exported to be used in Word. This retains the most information from the original LaTeX file.

use LaTeX to create bitmaps for all figures. This may help when figures are not translated properly with the default settings. This typically requires a functional version of ImageMagick on your machine to work properly.
a short usage description
-i language
used to set the idiom or language used by the LaTeX document. Typically, this is specified in a LaTeX2e document by including \usepackage[language]{babel} where language is one of the languages supported by the babel package. All languages listed in the babel system are supported so far as translations for “Chapter,” “References,” and the like. Furthermore, some commands found in the style files for german, french, russian, and czech style are supported. See Language Configuration.
same as -i latin1 (Note that the default behavior is to use ansinew which is a superset of latin1). Included for backwards compatibility.
where # selects the type of equation conversion. Use
convert displayed equations to RTF
convert inline equations to RTF
convert displayed equations to bitmap
convert inline equations to bitmap
insert Word comment field that contains the original equation text
These switches can be added together to get the desired conversion. Handy examples are
convert both inline and displayed equations to RTF (default)
convert inline equations to RTF and displayed equations to bitmaps
convert both inline and displayed equations to bitmaps
Bitmap conversion requires that you have installed a working latex2png script. Producing bitmaps is slow.
-o outputfile
Unless an outputfile is specified with the -o option, the resulting RTF filename is formed by removing .tex from the inputfile and appending .rtf.
Do not quote printed parentheses in mathematical formulas, as some versions of Word (e.g., Word 2000) have deep psychological problems with EQ fields using quoted parentheses. If Word displays some formulas with parentheses as “Error!”, try this option. See also the -S option.

This is an option because it will break typesetting equations with non-matching parentheses (because an unmatched unquoted parenthesis would terminate the field).

-P /path/to/cfg
used to specify the directory that contains the .cfg files
used to specify that semicolons should be used to separate arguments in RTF fields (instead of commas). Typically this is needed when the machine that opens the RTF file has a version of Windows that uses `,' for decimal points.
prints version information on standard output and exits.
includes warnings directly in the RTF file
add the specified number of extra } to the end of the RTF file. This is useful for files that are not cleanly converted by LaTeX2RTF .

With no arguments other than switches starting with a “-”, LaTeX2RTF acts as a filter, i.e., it reads from stdin and writes to stdout. In addition, diagnostic messages are sent to stderr. If these standard channels are not redirected using < and >, then the input is read from the command line, and both output and error messages are printed on the screen.

If a non-switch argument is present, LaTeX2RTF assumes it is the name of the input file. The file must have extension “.tex” but the extension is optional. The output file is constructed from the input file name by removing the extension “.tex” and adding “.rtf”.

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3.3 Debugging

With the -d option you can specify how much processing information LaTeX2RTF reports. If there is a logfile specified the output goes to this file. Nonetheless Warnings and Errors are logged to stderr always.

Possible values of -d are

  1. only errors.
  2. Translation Warnings (default).
  3. shows preparsing of sections
  4. Reasonably high level debugging messages
  5. Show all function calls
  6. Show all each character as it is processed
  7. Show processing of characters as they are output as well

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4 Features

In this chapter you find what styles is LaTeX2RTF supposed to translate correctly to RTF.

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4.1 LaTeX2e

LaTeX2RTF understands most of the commands introduced with LaTeX2e . It supports both the old 2.09 version of \documentstyle[options]{format#} and the newer \documentclass[options]{format}.

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4.2 Input Encoding

It is not necesary to specify the -C option if you use \usepackage{isolatin1} or \documentstyle[isolatin1]{...}. LaTeX2RTF automagically detects these packages/style options and switches to processing of ISO-Latin1 codes. The following encodings are supported: ansinew, applemac, cp437, cp437de, cp850, cp852, cp865, decmulti, cp1250, cp1252, latin1, latin2, latin3, latin4, latin5, latin9, next, koi8-r, koi8-u, cp1251, cp855, cp866, maccyr, and macukr. The encoding used in RTF files is cp1252. If cyrillic fonts are present, then these are represented in the RTF file using cp1251 (Windows Cyrillic).

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4.3 Language Support

The following languages from the Babel package are supported: afrikaans, german, nynorsk, spanish, bahasa, dutch, icelandic, polish, swedish, basque, english, portuges, turkish, brazil, esperanto, irish, romanian, usorbian, breton, estonian, italian, samin, welsh, catalan, finnish, latin, scottish, croatian, lsorbian, serbian, czech, french, magyar, slovak, danish, galician, norsk, slovene,

The only thing that these files do is to translate various words usually emitted by LaTeX during processing. For example, this ensures that the LaTeX2RTF will provide the correct translation of the word “Chapter” in the converted document.

You can select any of the above languages using the -l option. This is not needed if your LaTeX file contains \usepackage[language]{babel}.

Encountering the german package or documentstyle option (by H. Partl of the Viena University) makes LaTeX2RTF behave like that: German Quotes, German Umlauts by "a, etc.... This support is programmed directly into LaTeX2RTF and supporting similar features for other languages will require patching the source code.

There is similar support for french packages.

There is reasonable support for english, latin1, latin2, and cyrillic languages.

See Language Configuration, for details on how to write a language.cfg file for your language by yourself.

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4.4 Cross References

Cross references include everything that you might expect and then some: bibliographic citations, equation references, table references, figure references, and section references. Section, equation, table and figure references are implemented by placing RTF bookmarks around the equation number (or table number or figure number).

Page references work but are implemented as “warm” cross-references. This means that Word does not automatically update the page references when the file is opened. To update the page references you must select the entire document (in Word) and press F9.

Bibliographic references currently require that a valid .aux file be present. This is where LaTeX2RTF obtains the reference numbers. It would be nice if LaTeX2RTF just automatically numbered the references when there was no .aux file, but LaTeX2RTF does not do this yet.

LaTeX2RTF relies on BibTeX to convert and format bibliographic entries. Usually the style file for a particular BibTeX format does not use any special LaTeX commands and therefore the bibliography file file.bbl can be processed by LaTeX2RTF

without difficulty. As a consequence, LaTeX2RTF can handle most bibliography styles without problem.

There are several latex style packages that add additional latex commands to enhance bibliographic formatting. LaTeX2RTF currently supports the following bibliographic packages:
apacite, apalike, authordate, harvard, natbib (also with apanat1b). These packages have many, many options and you may encounter problems with formatting in special cases.

Footnotes are implemented and appear at the bottom of each page.

Indexing is reasonable well supported. The simple mark-up of makeindex


is supported. The rest of the fancy indexing stuff is not implemented. The index is created at the location of the \printindex command. When a file with an index is first opened in Word, you must select the entire file and update the page references and fields by pressing F9.

Currently, there is no support for \labels of \items in enumerate environments.

The conversion of cross-references is not perfect because of the different mechanisms in the LaTeX and Word worlds. In particular, if there are multiple \label in a figure, table, or section environment then only the first gets processed. It is also possible to confuse the LaTeX2RTF in eqnarray environments.

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4.5 Equations

There are four separate levels of equation translation based on the -M switch, See LaTeX2RTF Options. Each equation is now converted either to an EQ field or to a bitmap.

This is an interim solution (for some definition of “interim”). Ideally the equations would become OLE equation objects in the RTF file, but this needs to be implemented.

Some functions in the EQ fields have two or more parameters with a separator between each two. Unfortunately, the interpretation of these separators depends on the country specific settings in the MS Windows system in which the rtf file is opened. E.g. in English versions of MS Windows, the default parameter separator is the comma, in German versions the default is the semicolon. If the parameter in the RTF file does not match the Windows setting, some EQ fields are not interpreted correctly. You can check and set the separator in [Windows control panel - country settings - numbers - list separator]. By default, latex2rtf uses the comma as separator. If latex2rtf is called with the command line parameter -S , the semicolon is inserted as parameter delimiter.

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4.6 Tables

The table code is currently barely working. It needs to be rewritten.

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4.7 Graphics

There is now rudimentary support for \includegraphics. Three file types will be inserted into the RTF file without needing conversion: .pict, .jpeg, and .png files. EPS files are converted to PNG using convert from the ImageMagick package.

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4.8 Pagestyles

If there is no \pagestyle command, the RTF output is generated as with plain pagestyle, i.e. each page get's its page number centered at the bottom.

You must turn this off with the \pagestyle{empty} command in the LaTeX file if you don't want pagenumbers. The headings and myheadings styles are silently ignored by now. The twosided option to the \documentstyle or \documentclass produces the corresponding RTF tokens. Note that these features require RTF Version 1.4.

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4.9 Hyperlatex

Hyperlatex support is largely broken at the moment, but continues to improve.

Otfried Schwarzkopf has created the “Hyperlatex Markup Language” which is a “little package that allows you to use LaTeX to prepare documents in HTML.” It brings an Emacs lisp program with it to convert the Hyperlatex file to HTML. Hyperlatex can be obtained from the CTAN-sites, See Obtaining LaTeX2RTF. There are two convenient commands that avoid typing: \link and \xlink that generate an “internal” label which then is used in the following \Ref and \Pageref commands.

LaTeX makes it possible to write `\link{anchor}[ltx]{label}', which typesets: `anchor ltx'. LaTeX2RTF does NOT support this aproach since the optional parameter is thrown away right now, See LaTeX2RTF under Development.

Note that you have to update your .cfg files if you are upgrading, since there are a lot of HTML oriented commands in Hyperlatex that we simply can `ignore'.

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5 Configuration

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5.1 Input processing

On processing input LaTeX2RTF first converts the LaTeX special characters. If it encounters one of the standard commands it is converted internally. If a command is not known to LaTeX2RTF it is first looked up in direct.cfg and the RTF code specified there is output. If not found there it is looked up in the section ignore.cfg. This file includes a lot of LaTeX

commands that do not affect the output (cross reference information and the like), or that we are not able or willing to convert to RTF.

You can use ignore.cfg if you get tired of seeing

     WARNING: command: `foo' not found - ignored

and you don't need `foo' in your RTF document. It would be nice to send your additions to the LaTeX2RTF mailing list for inclusion in later distributions.

LaTeX2RTF accepts Unix, MS-DOS, and Macintosh line ending codes (\n, \r\n and \r). The files it creates are the line ending for the platform on which LaTeX2RTF was compiled.

The LaTeX file may have been created with a wide variety of character sets. If the LaTeX lacks the \package[codepage]{inputenc} definition, then you may need to use the command line switch to manually select the proper code page. See Input Encoding.

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5.2 Output formatting

On writing output, LaTeX2RTF generates \n as line ending code. Your RTF Reader should accept this on any platform. If you ftp your RTF file from or to MS-DOS platforms the line ending code can be converted to \r\n. As this should also be legal to any RTF Reader the resulting RTF rendering should not be affected.

LaTeX2RTF does not offer a whole lot of flexibility in how files are translated, but it does offer some. This flexibility resides in four files direct.cfg, ignore.cfg, fonts.cfg, and language.cfg. These filese are documented in the next four sections.

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5.3 Direct Conversion

The file direct.cfg is used for converting LaTeX commands by simple text replacement. The format consists of lines with a LaTeX command with backslash followed by comma. The rest of the line until a . character will be written to the RTF file when the command is found in the LaTeX file. Lines starting with a # character are ignored. After the . everything is ignored to end of line. To select a specific font use *fontname*, where fontname be defined in fonts.cfg. To write the * character use **.

     \alpha,{\f*Symbol* a}. #alpha in the Symbol Font

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5.4 Ignore Command

The file ignore.cfg is used for defining how to ignore specific commands. This file is used for recognition of LaTeX variables, user defined variables, and some simple commands. All variables are ignored but the converter must know the names to correctly ignore assignments to variables. Lines in this file consist of a variable name with backslash, followed by comma and the type of the variable followed by .. Possible types are

simple numeric value
numeric value with following unit of measure
ignores anything to the first character after = and from there to next space. e.g., \setbox\bak=\hbox
ignores anything to next \ and from there to the occurence of anything but a letter e.g., \newbox\bak
ignore single command e.g., \noindent
ignores a command with one parameter e.g., \foo{bar}
does not produce a Warning message if PACKAGE is encountered, e.g., `PACKAGE,kleenex.'
proceses contents of unknown environment as if it were plain LaTeX

eg. `ENVCMD,environ.' Therefore \begin{environ} text \end{environ}' as `text'.

ignores contents of that environment, e.g., with `ENVIRONMENT,ifhtml.' \begin{ifhtml} text \end{ifhtml} ignores `text'.

The types are in upper case exactly as above. Do not use spaces. Lines starting with a # character are ignored. After the . everything is ignored to end of line. Example:


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5.5 Font Configuration

The file fonts.cfg contains the font name mapping. For example, this file determines what font is used to represent \rm characters in the RTF file.

A line consists of a font name in LaTeX followed by comma and a font name in RTF. The end is marked by a .. No spaces are allowed. The LaTeX font will be converted to the RTF font when it is found in the LaTeX file. If multiple translations for the same LaTeX font are specified, only the first is used. All fonts in a LaTeX file that are not in this file will be mapped to the default font. All RTF fonts listed in this file will be in every RTF file header whether used or not. Lines starting with a # character are ignored. After the . everything is ignored to end of line.

To add a RTF font not used as substitute for a LaTeX font — for example a Symbol font used in direct.cfg — use a dummy LaTeX name like in the following


Make sure you use the correct font name. Take care of spaces in font names. The default fonts are named Roman \rm, Slanted \sl, Sans Serif \sf, Typewriter \tt, or Calligraphic \cal.

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5.6 Language Configuration

The file(s) language.cfg control the translation of LaTeX 's “hardcoded” sectioning names. The standard LaTeX styles have some fixed Title names like `Part', `Reference' or `Bibliography' that appeared in English or German in the output with the original versions of LaTeX2RTF .

It is unlikely that you will need to create a new language.cfg file. However, just look at one of the existing files and follow the pattern. The format is really simple.

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6 Error Messages and Logging

As stated in the Debugging section, LaTeX2RTF provides a means to control the amount of debugging information through the -d# switch. By using a debugging level of 4, you can get a pretty good idea of what LaTeX command caused the problem and what line that command might be found on.

Fatal error messages
indicate a bug in the source code. PLEASE report them, if they do not apear in the documentation. See Reporting Bugs.
Error messages
always abort the program and are caused by conditions that prevent further conversion of the input file. Typically this is cause by LaTeX2RTF getting hopelessly confused by the number of braces in the LaTeX file.
Warning messages
inform you, that there is some conversion loss from LaTeX to RTF, or that the output file has some restrictions on some RTF Readers. Most of these warnings can be supressed by add the offending command to the ignore.cfg file.

Error and Warning messages should follow the GNU Coding standards, i.e. they have the format

     inputfile':line: Error|Warning: message

You can also control the level of debugging output by inserting \verbositylevel{#} in the LaTeX file. This is very handy if you have a large LaTeX file that is failing in only a small section. For example,

     problem free latex file ....
     problematic code

will cause a huge amount of debugging information to be emitted for the problematic code.

Error reporting and logging still has many inconsistencies, but it gets better with each release. Don't try to make any sense in debugging levels above 4, these are for my own delight only and can change significantly between versions.

The inputfile may be incorrectly identified if it is incorporated through \input or \include. The line may be also be wrong at times. See Known Bugs.

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7 History & Copyright

In 1994 the first Version of LaTeX2RTF was written by Fernando Dorner and Andreas Granzer of the Viena University supervised by Ralf Schlatterbeck in a one-semester course. They created a simple LaTeX parser and added most of the infrastructure for the program. This was version 1.0 of LaTeX2RTF . In 1995, work on LaTeX2RTF was continued in another one-semester course by Friedrich Polzer and Gerhard Trisko. The result was LaTeX2RTF version 1.5. Ralf Schlatterbeck (ralf "at" maintained and extended LaTeX2RTF until 1998.

In 1998 Georg Lehner (jorge_lehner "at" found the reference to LaTeX2RTF on the TeX Conversion Webpage of Wilfried Hennings and added some functionality and took over the maintainence of the program. The last version release by Georg is 1.8aa. The bulk of development post 1.8aa was done by Scott Prahl. Wilfried Hennings now coordinates the development of the program and maintains the project on SourceForge where there are also (low volume) mailing lists for users and developers. Mailing via one of these lists requires subscription to the list (to prevent spam). For subscription to these lists visit the page: users list or developers list

As of October 2004, version 1.9.16 of LaTeX2RTF is available. One day there shall be a jump to Version 2.0, but this is not history but future ...

The contents of this manual were composed by copying shamelessly what was available in the original sources and documentation.

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8 LaTeX2RTF under Development

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8.1 Unimplemented Features

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8.2 Missing options

Missing or buggy command line options.

Information logging and Error reporting is not implemented consistently. Need to test and track problems with the linenumber and with the file name.
It would be useful to implement the GNU long option names, e.g.: `–debug', `–output_file', `–quiet', etc. This could be done by switching to the GNU getopt package.

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8.3 Known Bugs

  1. The first parameter of a \link{anchor}[ltx]{label} is converted to the rtf-output. Label is stored to hyperref for later use, the optional parameter is ignored. [ltx] should be processed as Otfried recommends it, to use for exclusive LaTeX output.e.g: \link{readhere}[~\Ref]{explaining: chapter}. Since {explaining:chapter} is yet read by LaTeX and hyperlatex when [...] is evaluated it produces the correct reference. LaTeX2RTF is only strolling from left to right through the text and can't remember what she will see in the future.
  2. The diagnostics routine does not output the correct (actual) inputfilename. (`.aux', `.bbl', \input).

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8.4 Reporting Bugs

Report bugs to to the bug tracking system at SourceForge. Only report bugs for the latest version of LaTeX2RTF that is available. Please provide the following information and observe the following guidelines when reporting a bug in the program:

  1. State the version of LaTeX2RTF that you are using. You can get the version by specifying the -V option to LaTeX2RTF .
  2. Specify the your operating system and version. Be sure to check the file `Makefile' for settings that may be specific to your machine, especially for some versions of SunOS there may be settings which are needed to compile successfully. Do this before submitting a bug report.
  3. If the program produces wrong output or does not work for you, include a short LaTeX file along with a description of the problem. Isolating the bug into a small LaTeX file does two things. First, it provides a file that can be used to test future versions of LaTeX2RTF and second, it certainly improves the chances that the bug will get some attention. Do not send me large LaTeX or RTF files, I simply do not have the time to wade through large files to search for a bug!
  4. Be patient. I am maintaining the program in my free time. I did not write most of the code. Often I do not have the time to answer to your question. I will, however, try to fix reported bugs in upcoming releases.

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8.5 Todo List

Scott's ToDo list

Georg's todo list

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9 Index

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