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Asciidoctor PDF: A native PDF converter for AsciiDoc

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Asciidoctor PDF is a native PDF converter for AsciiDoc that serves the pdf backend. It bypasses the step of generating an intermediary format such as DocBook, Apache FO, or LaTeX in order to produce PDF. Instead, you use Asciidoctor PDF to convert your documents directly from AsciiDoc to PDF with Asciidoctor. The aim of this library is to take the pain out of creating PDF documents from AsciiDoc.


The documentation for the latest, stable release of Asciidoctor PDF is available at

If you’re looking for the documentation for Asciidoctor PDF 1.6, refer to the README in the v1.6.x branch. Asciidoctor PDF 1.6 is no longer being developed and will reach EOL later this year. You are encouraged to migrate to Asciidoctor PDF 2 as soon as possible.


Asciidoctor PDF converts an AsciiDoc document directly to a PDF document. The style and layout of the PDF are controlled by a dedicated theme file. To the degree possible, Asciidoctor PDF supports all the features of AsciiDoc that are supported by Asciidoctor. It also provides PDF-specific features. However, there are certain limitations imposed by the PDF format and the PDF library this extension uses.

Asciidoctor PDF uses the Prawn gem and Prawn’s extensions, such as prawn-svg and prawn-table, to generate a PDF document. Prawn is a general purpose PDF generator for Ruby that features high-level APIs for common needs like setting up the page and inserting images and low-level APIs for positioning and rendering text and graphics.

For the latest Asciidoctor PDF features and fixes, see What’s New in Asciidoctor PDF.


Asciidoctor PDF is built on Asciidoctor. Like Asciidoctor, Asciidoctor PDF is a Ruby application. Therefore, to use it, you’ll need a Ruby runtime.

The supported Ruby runtimes are Ruby 2.7 or greater and JRuby 9.2 or greater. However, we always recommend using the most recent release of Ruby or JRuby. All required libraries (i.e., gems) will be installed automatically when you install Asciidoctor PDF, which will be covered in the next section.

To check if you have Ruby available, run the ruby command to print the installed version:

$ ruby -v

Make sure this command reports a Ruby version that starts with 2.7 (or a JRuby version that starts with 9.2). If so, you’re ready to proceed. If not, head over to to get RVM and use it to install Ruby.

Install Asciidoctor PDF

You can install Asciidoctor PDF using the gem install command. We’ll use this command to install the Asciidoctor PDF gem named asciidoctor-pdf that’s published on Pass the name of the gem to the gem install command as follows:

$ gem install asciidoctor-pdf

Installing Asciidoctor PDF will install a number of other gems mentioned in these docs, including asciidoctor, prawn, prawn-svg, prawn-table, prawn-icon, and ttfunk. For the most part, the versions of these dependencies are locked to the version of Asciidoctor PDF. The patch versions are allowed to vary. Please note that the minimum supported version of the asciidoctor gem (Asciidoctor) is 2.0.10.

For further installation information about installing Asciidoctor PDF, see the installation documentation. For troubleshooting help, see Installation troubleshooting.

Install a prerelease or development version

To install the latest prerelease of the asciidoctor-pdf gem from (if a prerelease is available), use the following command:

$ gem install asciidoctor-pdf --pre

You can also run the code from source if you want to use a development version or participate in development.

Optional dependencies

There are several optional features of this converter that require additional gems to be installed. Those features are as follows.

Source highlighting

You’ll need to install a syntax highlighter to use source highlighting (build-time only).

PDF optimization

If you want to optimize your PDF, you’ll need rghost or hexapdf. See Optimize the PDF for installation and usage instructions.

Automatic hyphenation

To turn on automatic hyphenation using the hyphens attribute, you’ll need to install the text-hyphen gem:

$ gem install text-hyphen
Accelerated image decoding

Ruby is not particularly fast at decoding images, and the image formats it supports are limited. To help, you can install prawn-gmagick, which delegates the work of decoding images to GraphicsMagick. Refer to Supporting additional image file formats for instructions about how to enable this integration.

Check the minimum supported version table to make sure you’re using a supported version of the dependency.

Run the Application

Assuming all the required gems install properly, verify you can run the asciidoctor-pdf script:

$ asciidoctor-pdf -v

If you see the version of Asciidoctor PDF printed, you’re ready to use Asciidoctor PDF!

Let’s grab an AsciiDoc document to distill and start putting Asciidoctor PDF to use.

If you don’t already have an AsciiDoc document to work with, you can use the basic-example.adoc file found in the examples directory of this project. Copy it to the current directory as follows:

$ cp examples/basic-example.adoc .

Let’s take a look at the contents of that file.

It’s time to convert the AsciiDoc document directly to PDF.

Convert AsciiDoc to PDF

You’ll need the rouge gem installed to run this example since it uses the source-highlighter attribute with the value of rouge.

Converting to PDF is as straightforward as running the asciidoctor-pdf script using Ruby and passing the AsciiDoc document as the first argument:

$ asciidoctor-pdf basic-example.adoc

This command is a shorter way of running asciidoctor with the PDF converter and backend enabled:

$ asciidoctor -r asciidoctor-pdf -b pdf basic-example.adoc

The asciidoctor-pdf command saves you from having to remember these low-level options. That’s why we provide it.

When the script completes, you should see the file basic-example.pdf in the current directory. Asciidoctor creates the output file in the same directory as the input file by default. Open the basic-example.pdf file with a PDF viewer to see the result.

Screenshot of PDF document
Figure 1. Example PDF document rendered in a PDF viewer

For more information about how to use Asciidoctor PDF and PDF-specific AsciiDoc syntax, see the Asciidoctor PDF documentation.


The layout and styling of the PDF is driven by a YAML configuration file. To learn how the theming system works and how to create and apply custom themes, refer to the Asciidoctor PDF theming documentation.


See the contributing guide. To help develop Asciidoctor PDF, or to simply use the development version, refer to the developing and contributing code guide.


Asciidoctor PDF was written by Dan Allen and Sarah White of OpenDevise Inc. on behalf of the Asciidoctor Project.

Copyright © 2014-present OpenDevise Inc. and the Asciidoctor Project. Free use of this software is granted under the terms of the MIT License.

For the full text of the license, see the LICENSE file. Refer to the NOTICE file for information about third-party Open Source software in use.