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make4ht is a simple build system for tex4ht, \TeX\ to XML converter. It provides a command line tool that drive the conversion process. It also provides a library which can be used to create customized conversion tools. An example of such conversion tool is tex4ebook for conversion of \TeX\ to ePub and other e-book formats.

How it works

The issues with default tex4ht conversion commands

tex4ht system supports several output formats, most notably XHTML, HTML 5 and ODT. The conversion can be invoked using several commands. These commands invoke LaTeX\ or Plain TeX with special instructions to load tex4ht.sty package. The \TeX\ run produces special DVI file which contains the code for desired output format. Produced DVI file is then processed and desired output files are created.

The basic command provided by tex4ht is named htlatex. It compiles \LaTeX\
files to HTML with this command sequence:

latex $latex_options 'code for loading tex4ht.sty \input{filename}'
latex $latex_options 'code for loading tex4ht.sty \input{filename}'
latex $latex_options 'code for loading tex4ht.sty \input{filename}'
tex4ht $tex4ht_options filename
t4ht $t4ht_options filename

The options for various parts of the system can be passed on the command line:

htlatex filename "tex4ht.sty options" "tex4ht_options" "t4ht_options" "latex_options"

For basic HTML conversion it is possible to use the most basic invocation:

htlatex filename.tex

It can be much more involved for HTML 5 output in UTF-8 encoding:

htlatex filename.tex "xhtml,html5,charset=utf-8" "-cmozhtf -utf8"

make4ht can simplify it:

make4ht -uf html5 filename.tex

Another issue is the fixed compilation order and hard-coded number of LaTeX invocations.

When you need to run a program which interact with LaTeX, such as Makeindex or Bibtex, you need to create a new script based on htlatex, or run htlatex twice, which means that LaTeX will be invoked six times. This can lead to significantly long compilation times. make4ht provides build files and extensions, which can be used for interaction with external tools.

It is also possible to have several compilation modes. When you just add new text to a document, which doesn't contain cross-references, don't add new stuff to the table of contents, etc., it is possible to use the draft mode which will invoke LaTeX only once. It can save quite a lot of the compilation time:

make4ht -um draft -f html5 filename.tex

There are also issues with a behaviour of the t4ht application. It reads file filename.lg, generated by tex4ht, where are instructions about generated files, CSS instructions, calls to external applications, instructions for image conversions etc. It can be instructed to copy generated files to some output directory, but it doesn't preserve directory structure, so when you have images in a subdirectory, they will be copied to the output directory. Links will be pointing to a non-existing subdirectory. The following command should copy all output files to the correct destinations.

make4ht -d outputdir filename.tex

The image conversion is configured in the env file, which has really strange syntax based and the rules are os dependent. make4ht provides simpler means for the image conversion in the build files.

With make4ht build files, we have simple mean to fix these issues. We can change image conversion parameters without the need to modify the env file, or execute actions on the output files. These actions can be either external programs such as xslt processors or HTML tidy or Lua functions.

The idea is to make system controlled by a build file. Because Lua interpreter is included in modern TeX distributions and Lua is ideal language for such task, it was chosen as language in which the build scripts are written.

Output file formats and extensions

The default output format used by make4ht is html5. Different format can be requested using the --format option. Supported formats are:

  • xhtml
  • html5
  • odt
  • tei
  • docbook

The --format option can be also used for extension loading.


Extensions can be used to modify the build process without the need to use a build file. They may post-process the output files or request additional commands for the compilation.

The extensions can be enabled or disabled by appending +EXTENSION or -EXTENSION after the output format name:

 make4ht -uf html5+tidy filename.tex

Available extensions:


: use Latexmk for \LaTeX\ compilation.


: clean the HTML files using the tidy command.


: efficient generation of SVG pictures using Dvisvgm. It can utilize multiple processor cores and generates only changed images.


: clean the output HTML files using filters.


: clean the HTML file using DOM filters. It is more powerful than common_filters. Used DOM filters are fixinlines, idcolons and joincharacters.


: load the joincolors domfilter for all HTML files.


: use mathjax-node-page to convert from MathML code to HTML + CSS or SVG. See the available settings.


: automatically load the odttemplate filter.


: build the document in form suitable for static site generators like Jekyll.

Build files

make4ht supports build files. These are Lua scripts which can adjust the build process. You can request external applications like bibtex or makeindex, pass options to the commands, modify the image conversion process, or post-process the generated files.

make4ht tries to load default build file named as filename + .mk4 extension. You can choose different build file with -e or --build-file command line option.

Sample build file:

Make:match("html$", "tidy -m -xml -utf8 -q -i ${filename}")

Make:htlatex() is preconfigured command for calling LaTeX with tex4ht loaded on the input file. In this case, it will be called one time. After compilation, the tidy command is executed on the output HTML file.

Note that you don't have to call tex4ht and t4ht commands explicitly in the build file, they are called automatically.

User commands

You can add more commands like Make:htlatex using Make:add command:

Make:add("name", "command", {parameters}, repetition)

The name and command parameters are required, rest of the parameters are optional.

This defines name command, which can be then executed as Make:name() command.

Provided commands


: One call to TeX engine with special configuration for tex4ht loading.


: Use Latexmk for the document compilation. tex4ht will be loaded automatically.


: Process the DVI file and creates the output files.


: Creates the CSS file.

Command function

The command parameter can be either string template or function:

Make:add("text", "echo hello, input file: ${input}")
Make:add("function", function(params) 
  for k, v in pairs(params) do 
    print(k..": "..v) 
  end, {custom="Hello world"}

The template can get variable value from the parameters table using a ${var_name} placeholder. Templates are executed using operating system, so they should invoke existing OS commands. Function commands may execute system commands using os.execute function.

Parameters table

parameters parameter is optional, it can be table or nil value, which should be used if you want to use the repetition parameter, but don't want to modify the parameters table.

The table with default parameters is passed to all commands, they can be accessed from command functions or templates. When you specify your own parameters in the command definition, these additional parameters are added to the default parameters table for this particular command. You can override the default parameters in the parameters table.

The default parameters are following:


: used compiler


: it is output file name in fact


: input TeX file


: parameters to latex


: insert additional LaTeX code which is inserted before \documentclass. Useful for passing options to packages or additional packages loading


: parameters to tex4ht.sty


: parameters to the tex4ht application


: parameters to the t4ht application


: the output directory


: limit number of command execution.


: expected exit code from the command. The compilation will be terminated if the command exit code is different.


Repetition is number which specifies a maximal number of executions of the particular command. This is used for instance for tex4ht and t4ht commands, as they should be executed only once in the compilation. They would be executed multiple times if you include them in the build file because they are called by make4ht by default. Because these commands allow only one repetition, the second execution will be blocked.

Expected exit code

You can set the expected exit code from a command with a correct_exit key in the parameters table. The compilation will be stopped when the command returns a different exit code.

This mechanism isn't used for LaTeX (for all TeX engines and formats, in fact), because it doesn't differentiate between fatal and non-fatal errors, and it returns the same exit code in all cases. Log parsing is used because of that, error code 1 is returned in the case of fatal error, 0 is used otherwise. The Make.testlogfile function can be used in the build file to detect compilation errors in the TeX log file.

File matches

Another type of action which can be specified in the build file is match. It can be called on the generated files:

Make:match("html$", "tidy -m -xml -utf8 -q -i ${filename}")

It tests output file names with Lua pattern matching and on matched items will execute a command or a function, specified in the second argument. Commands may be specified as strings, the templates will be expanded, ${var_name} placeholders will be replaced with corresponding variables from the parameters table, described in the previous subsection. One additional variable is available: filename. It contains the name of the current output file.

The above example will clean all output HTML files using the tidy command.

If function is used instead, it will get two parameters. The first one is a current filename, the second one table with parameters.


Some default match actions which can be used are available from the make4ht-filter module. It contains some functions which are useful for fixing some tex4ht bugs or shortcomings.


local filter = require "make4ht-filter"
local process = filter{"cleanspan", "fixligatures", "hruletohr"}

The make4ht-filter module return a function which can be used for the filter chain building. Multiple filters can be chained, each of them can modify the string which was modified by the previous filters. The changes are then saved to the processed file.

Built-in filters are:


: clean spurious span elements when accented characters are used


: alternative clean span filter, provided by Nat Kuhn


: decompose ligatures to base characters


: \hrule commands are translated to series of underscore characters by tex4ht, this filter translate these underscores to <hr> elements


: convert prohibited named entities to numeric entities (currently, only &nbsp;, as it causes validation errors, and tex4ht is producing it sometimes)


: replace colons in local links and id attributes with underscores. Some cross-reference commands may produce colons in internal links, which results in validation error.


: use mathjax-node-page to convert from MathML code to HTML + CSS or SVG. See the available settings.


: use styles from another ODT file serving as a template in the current document. It works for the styles.xml file in the ODT file. During the compilation, this file is named as \jobname.4oy.


: create HTML files in format suitable for static site generators such as Jekyll


: some SVG images produced by dvisvgm seem to have wrong dimensions. This filter tries to set the correct image size.

Function filter accepts also function arguments, in this case this function takes file contents as a parameter and modified contents are returned.


local filter  = require "make4ht-filter"
local changea = function(s) return s:gsub("a","z") end
local process = filter{"cleanspan", "fixligatures", changea}

In this example, spurious span elements are joined, ligatures are decomposed, and then all letters 'a' are replaced with 'z' letters.

DOM filters

DOM filters use the LuaXML library to modify directly the XML object. This enables more powerful operations than the regex based filters from the previous section.


local domfilter = require "make4ht-domfilter"
local process = domfilter {"joincharacters"}
Make:match("html$", process)

Available DOM filters:


: Aeneas is a tool for automagical synchronization of text and audio. This filter modifies the HTML code to support the synchronization.


: put all inline elements which are direct children of the <body> elements to a paragraph.


: replace the colon (:) character in internal links and id attributes. They cause validation issues.


: join consecutive <span> or <mn> elements.


: many <span> elements with unique id attribute are created when \LaTeX\ colors are being used in the document. CSS rule is added for each of these elements, which may result in substantial grow of the CSS file. This filter replace these rules with a common one for elements with the same color value.


: set correct dimensions for images in the ODT format. It is loaded by default for the ODT output.


: fix hyperlinks in the ODT format.

make4ht-aeneas-config package

Companion for the aeneas DOM filter is the make4ht-aeneas-config plugin. It can be used to write Aeneas configuration file or execute Aeneas on the generated HTML files.

Available functions:


: write Aenas job configuration to config.xml file. See the Aeneas documentation for more information about jobs.


: execute Aeneas.


: process the audio and generated subtitle files.

By default, the smil file is created. It is assumed that there is audio file in mp3 format named as the TeX file. It is possible to use different formats and file names using mapping.

The configuration options can be passed directly to the functions or set using filter_settings "aeneas-config" {parameters} function.

Available parameters:


: document language. It is interfered from the HTML file, so it is not necessary to set it.


: mapping between HTML, audio and subtitle files. More info bellow.


: type of the input. The aeneas DOM filter produces unparsed text type.


: sorting of id attributes. Default value is numeric.


: regular expression to parse the id attributes.


: generated subtitle format. Default smil.

Additional parameters for the job configuration file:

  • description
  • prefix
  • config_name
  • keep_config

It is possible to generate multiple HTML files from the LaTeX source. For example, tex4ebook generates separate file for each chapter or section. It is possible to set options for each HTML file, in particular names of the corresponding audio files. This mapping is done using map parameter.


filter_settings "aeneas-config" {
  map = {
    ["sampleli1.html"] = {audio_file="sample.mp3"}, 
    ["sample.html"] = false

Table keys are the configured file names. It is necessary to insert them as ["filename.html"], because of Lua syntax rules.

This example maps audio file sample.mp3 to a section subpage. The main HTML file, which may contain title and table of contents doesn't have a corresponding audio file.

Filenames of the sub files corresponds to the chapter numbers, so they are not stable when a new chapter is added. It is possible to request file names interfered from the chapter titles using the sec-filename option or tex4ht.

Available map options:


: the corresponding audio file


: name of the generated subtitle file

The following options are same as their counter-parts from the main parameters table and generally don't need to be set:

  • prefix
  • file_desc
  • file_id
  • text_type
  • id_sort
  • id_prefix
  • sub_format

Full example:

local domfilter = require "make4ht-domfilter"
local aeneas_config = require "make4ht-aeneas-config"

filter_settings "aeneas-config" {
  map = {
    ["krecekli1.xhtml"] = {audio_file="krecek.mp3"}, 
    ["krecek.xhtml"] = false

local process = domfilter {"aeneas"}
Make:match("html$", process)

if mode == "draft" then
  aeneas_config.process_files {}
  aeneas_config.execute {}

Image conversion

It is possible to convert parts of LaTeX input to pictures, it is used for example for math or diagrams in tex4ht.

These pictures are stored in a special dvi file, which can be processed by the dvi to image commands.

This conversion is normally configured in the env file, which is system dependent and which has a bit unintuitive syntax. This configuration is processed by the t4ht application and conversion commands are called for all pictures.

It is possible to disable t4ht image processing and configure image conversion in the build file:

"dvipng -bg Transparent -T tight -o ${output}  -pp ${page} ${source}")

Make:image takes two parameters, pattern to match image name and action. Action can be either string template with conversion command, or function which takes a table with parameters as an argument.

There are three parameters:

  • output - output image file name
  • source - dvi file with the pictures
  • page - page number of the converted image

The mode variable

There is global mode variable available in the build file. It contains contents of the --mode command line option. It can be used to run some commands conditionally. For example:

 if mode == "draft" then

In this example (which is the default configuration used by make4ht), LaTeX is called only once when make4ht is called with draft mode:

make4ht -m draft filename

The settings table

You may want to access to the parameters also outside commands, file matches and image conversion functions. For example, if you want to convert your file to the OpenDocument Format (ODT), you can use the following settings, based on the oolatex command:

settings.tex4ht_sty_par = settings.tex4ht_sty_par ..",ooffice"
settings.tex4ht_par = settings.tex4ht_par .. " ooffice/! -cmozhtf"
settings.t4ht_par = settings.t4ht_par .. " -cooxtpipes -coo "

There are some functions to ease access to the settings:


: overwrite settings with values from a passed table


: add values to the current settings

filter_settings "filter name" {parameters}

: set settings for a filter


: get settings for a filter

Using these functions, it is possible to simplify the settings for the ODT format:

settings_add {
  tex4ht_sty_par =",ooffice",
  tex4ht_par = " ooffice/! -cmozhtf",
  t4ht_par = " -cooxtpipes -coo "

Settings for filters and extensions can be set using filter_settings:

filter_settings "test" {
  hello = "world"

These settings can be read in the extensions and filters using get_filter_settings:

function test(input)
   local options = get_filter_settings("test")
   return input

List of available settings for filters and extensions.

These settings may be set using filter_settings function.

The tidy extension


: command line options for the tidy command. Default value is -m -utf8 -w 512 -q.

The fixinlines dom filter


: table of inline elements which shouldn't be direct descendants of the body element. The element names should be table keys, the values should be true.


filter_settings "fixinlines" {inline_elements = {a = true, b = true}}

The joincharacters dom filter


: table of elements which should be joined if several instances with the same value of class attribute are side by side.


filter_settings "joincharacters" { charclases = { span=true, mn = true}}

The mathjaxnode filter {#mathjaxsettings}


: command line options for the mjpage command. Default value is --output CommonHTML


filter_settings "mathjaxnode" {
  options="--output SVG --font Neo-Euler"


: mjpage puts some CSS code into the HTML pages. mathjaxnode extracts this information and saves it to a standalone CSS file. Default CSS filename is mathjax-chtml.css


: directory with MathJax font files. This option enables use of local fonts, which is usefull in Epub conversion, for example. The font directory should be sub-directory of the current directory. Only TeX font is supported at the moment.


filter_settings "mathjaxnode" {

The aeneas filter


: List of CSS selectors that match elements which shouldn't be processed. Default value: { "math", "svg"}.


: prefix used in the ID attribute forming.


: Lua pattern used to match a sentence. Default value: "([^%.^%?^!]*)([%.%?!]?)".

The staticsite filter and extension


: directory where generated files should be copied.


: table where keys are patterns that match filenames, value contains destination directoryfor matched files, relative to the site_root (it is possible to use .. to swich to parent directory).


: pattern used for filename generation. It is possible to use string templates and format strings for function. Default value of %Y-%m-%d-${input} creates names in the form of YYYY-MM-DD-file_name.


: table with variables to be set in the YAML header in HTML files. If the table value is a function, it is executed with current parameters and HTML page DOM object as arguments.


local outdir = os.getenv "blog_root" 

filter_settings "staticsite" {
  site_root = outdir, 
  map = {
    [".css$"] = "../css/"
  header = {
     date = function(parameters, dom)
       return"!%Y-%m-%d %T", parameters.time)

The dvisvgm_hashes extension


: command line options for Dvisvgm. The default value is -n --exact -c 1.15,1.15.


: number of processor cores used for conversion. The extension tries to detect the available cores automatically by default.


: number of pages used in each Dvisvgm call. The extension detects changed pages in the DVI file and construct multiple calls to Dvisvgm with only changed pages.


: SVG scaling.

The odttemplate filter and extension


: filename of the template ODT file

odttemplate can also get the template filename from the odttemplate option from tex4ht_sty_par parameter. It can be set useing following command line call, for example:

 make4ht -f odt+odttemplate filename.tex "odttemplate=template.odt"

Configuration file {#configfile}

It is possible to globally modify the build settings using the configuration file. New compilation commands can be added, extensions can be loaded or disabled and settings can be set.


The configuration file can be saved either in $HOME/.config/make4ht/config.lua or in .make4ht in the current directory or it's parents (up to $HOME).

Additional commands

There are two additional commands:


: require extension


: disable extension


The following configuration add support for the biber command, requires common_domfilters extension and requires MathML output for math.

Make:add("biber", "biber ${input}")
Make:enable_extension "common_domfilters"
settings_add {
  tex4ht_sty_par =",mathml"

Command line options

make4ht - build system for tex4ht
make4ht [options] filename ["tex4ht.sty op." "tex4ht op." 
     "t4ht op" "latex op"]
-b,--backend (default tex4ht) Backend used for xml generation.
     possible values: tex4ht or lua4ht
-c,--config (default xhtml) Custom config file
-d,--output-dir (default "")  Output directory
-e,--build-file (default nil)  If build file name is different 
     than `filename`.mk4
-f,--format  (default nil)  Output file format
-l,--lua  Use lualatex for document compilation
-m,--mode (default default) Switch which can be used in the makefile
-n,--no-tex4ht  Disable dvi file processing with tex4ht command
-s,--shell-escape Enables running external programs from LaTeX
-u,--utf8  For output documents in utf8 encoding
-v,--version  Print version number
-x,--xetex Use xelatex for document compilation
<filename> (string) Input file name

You can still invoke make4ht in the same way as htlatex:

make4ht filename "customcfg, charset=utf-8" "-cunihtf -utf8" "-dfoo"

Note that this will not use make4ht routines for output directory making and copying. If you want to use them, change the line above to:

make4ht -d foo filename "customcfg, charset=utf-8" "-cunihtf -utf8"

This call has the same effect as the following:

make4ht -u -c customcfg -d foo filename

Output directory doesn't have to exist, it will be created automatically. Specified path can be relative to current directory, or absolute:

make4ht -d use/current/dir/ filename
make4ht -d ../gotoparrentdir filename
make4ht -d ~/gotohomedir filename
make4ht -d c:\documents\windowspathsareworkingtoo filename


Incorrect handling of command line arguments for tex4ht, t4ht or latex

Sometimes, you may get a similar error:

make4ht:unrecognized parameter: i

It may be caused by a following make4ht invocation:

make4ht hello.tex "customcfg,charset=utf-8" "-cunihtf -utf8" -d foo

The command line option parser is confused by mixing options for make4ht and tex4ht in this case and tries to interpret the -cunihtf -utf8, which are options for tex4ht command as make4ht options. To fix that, you can either move the -d foo directly after make4ht command:

make4ht -d foo hello.tex "customcfg,charset=utf-8" "-cunihtf -utf8"

Another option is to add a space before tex4ht options:

make4ht hello.tex "customcfg,charset=utf-8" " -cunihtf -utf8" -d foo

The former way is preferable, though.

Filenames containing spaces

tex4ht cannot handle filenames containing spaces. make4ht thus replaces spaces in input file names with underscores, so generated XML files use underscores instead of spaces as well.

Filenames containing non-ASCII characters

The odt output doesn't support accented filenames, it is best to stick to ASCII characters in filenames.


Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this software under the terms of the LaTeX Project Public License, version 1.3.

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