The aim here is to emulate the Unix nroff
, which formats
text as best it can for the screen, from the same
input as the Unix typesetting program troff
Converting DVI to plain text is the basis of many of these
techniques; sometimes the simple conversion provides a good enough
response. Options are:
- dvi2tty (one of the earliest),
- crudetype and
- catdvi, which is capable of generating Latin-1
(ISO 8859-1) or UTF-8 encoded output. Catdvi was
conceived as a replacement for dvi2tty, but development
seems to have stopped before the authors were willing to declare the
A common problem is the hyphenation that TeX inserts when
typesetting something: since the output is inevitably viewed using
fonts that don’t match the original, the hyphenation usually looks
Ralph Droms provides a txt
bundle of things in support of
but it doesn’t do a good job with tables and mathematics.
Another possibility is to
use the LaTeX-to-ASCII conversion program, l2a
although this is really more of a de-TeXing program.
The canonical de-TeXing program is detex
, which removes
all comments and control sequences
from its input before writing it to its output. Its original purpose
was to prepare input for a dumb spelling checker, and it’s only usable
for preparing useful ASCII versions of a document in highly
is slightly more than a de-TeXer — it’s a
script that converts TeX files into
plain text files, expanding various mathematical symbols
(sums, products, integrals, sub/superscripts, fractions, square
roots, …) into “ASCII art” that spreads over
multiple lines if necessary. The result is more readable to human
beings than the flat-style TeX code.
Another significant possibility is to use one of the
and then to use a browser such as lynx
to dump the resulting
HTML as plain text.
This is FAQ version 3.26, released on 2013-02-25.