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latexdiff is a script which will produce a LaTeX diff between two LaTeX files. The diff output can be compiled to a PDF (or other formats) with blue/red markers for insertions/deletions. However, there are a lot of manual steps to get the two files, do the diff, compile LaTeX, run BibTeX remove temporary files, and so on. git-latexdiff helper automates that, and can be integrated as a subcommand in git.


For installation, see section below.

  • Enter the git repository
  • Run git latexdiff yourfile.tex. You must run it with an explicit .tex filename, it can't operate on entire directories. Any other generic git diff arguments for specifying versions should work.
  • A .pdf file should be created in your current directory. Filename will be stated. It is possible that existing filenames will be overwritten.

Arguments are passed via environment variables (there isn't a good way to pass options otherwise, also passing options is very rare.) It is easiest to do this via the command line. Example (in bash): V=1 git latexdiff ....

  • V=: set to any value to enable verbose mode. Set to "2" to also display output of compiling LaTeX.
  • LATEX=: LaTeX program to run (default: pdflatex)
  • LATEXDIFF=: set path to latexdiff
  • TMPDIR=: temporary directory for compiling the latex
  • LDOPTS=: options to latexdiff itself.
  • PDFVIEWER=: PDF viewer to run (default: evince)

Steps taken, and cases handled, by this helper:

  • Diffs two versions and puts them in a temporary directory
  • Runs BibTeX if bibliography command is detected.
  • Uses currently checked out version of figures
  • Runs LaTeX in non-stop mode, so any errors or missing figures are just ignored.
  • Runs LaTeX twice to get references correct.
  • Copy output to current directory.
  • Have all temporary files placed in a temporary directory that is deleted, so that they never interfere with the current directory.
  • Automatically start a PDF viewer with the output if $DISPLAY is set.

Installation and dependencies

This depends on the latexdiff perl script, which you must install yourself separately:

This is in various package repositories, for example is in Debian in the latexdiff package. Unfortunately, I can't help in installing on other platforms. One report says it is in macports.

Place the program git-latexdiff-helper somewhere in your PATH. Alternatively, put it anywhere and put the full path to it in the second git config command below:

cp git-latexdiff-helper path/to/somewhere/

Set git-latexdiff-helper executable:

chmod a+x git-latexdiff-helper

Set your git config:

git config --global alias.latexdiff "difftool -t latexdiff"
git config --global difftool.latexdiff.cmd 'git-latexdiff-helper "$LOCAL" "$REMOTE"'

If you want, edit the top of the file to set default PDF viewer or LaTeX command.

Other resources

The latexdiff main page is:

This formed the basis for this tool:

This tool is written by Richard Darst and released under the Gnu General Public License version 2 or later.


latexdiff helper for git






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