Posts Tagged ‘latex’

git latexdiff usage: visually highlight changes in version controlled Latex files

October 2, 2017 Leave a comment

This is a follow-up post to latexdiff-git, which is outdated by now.

latexdiff is a powerful tool that uses two Latex files to generate a third Latex file in which differences between the first two files are visually highlighted. latexdiff is especially useful when comparing an old with a new version of the same Latex file. However, latexdiff does not account for any version control on its own. This means that if you want to visually highlight the differences between two versions of a version controlled Latex file, you are required to manually checkout the two different versions ahead of comparing them with latexdiff. In case you are using git as your version control system, this is where git-latexdiff comes into play. It accounts for checking out the different version of a Latex file as well as comparing them with latexdiff in a single command: you only need to specify which latex file and versions should be used for the comparison.


Ensure you have git, a latex distribution (e.g. texlive-full), and latexdiff installed and available in the path of your CLI.

git-latexdiff installation

Clone git-latexdiff:

git clone

Follow instructions in the README. This will involve a:

sudo make install

in most cases on an Ubuntu system. If all went well “git latexdiff” should be available in your CLI (it should print the help message):

user@machine:~$ git latexdiff

fatal: Please, provide at least one revision to diff with.
Usage: git latexdiff [options] OLD [NEW]
 git latexdiff [options] OLD --
 git latexdiff [options] -- OLD
Call latexdiff on two Git revisions of a file.

OLD and NEW are Git revision identifiers. NEW defaults to HEAD.
If "--" is used for NEW, then diff against the working directory.

 --help this help message
 --help-examples show examples of usage
 --main <file> name of the main LaTeX, R Sweave,
 or Emacs Org mode file.
 The search for the only file containing 'documentclass'
 will be attempted, if not specified.
 For non-LaTeX files, a reasonable `prepare` command
 will be used unless explicitly provided
 --no-view don't display the resulting PDF file
 --latex run latex instead of pdflatex
 --bibtex, -b run bibtex as well as latex
 --biber run BibLaTex-Biber as well as latex
 --view view the resulting PDF file
 (default if -o is not used)
 --pdf-viewer <cmd> use <cmd> to view the PDF file (default: $PDFVIEWER)
 --no-cleanup don't cleanup temp dir after running
 --no-flatten don't call latexpand to flatten the document
 --cleanup MODE Cleanup temporary files according to MODE:

- keeppdf (default): keep only the
 generated PDF file

- none: keep all temporary files
 (may eat your diskspace)

- all: erase all generated files.
 Problematic with --view when the
 viewer is e.g. evince, and doesn't
 like when the file being viewed is

--latexmk use latexmk
 --latexopt pass additional options to latex (e.g. -shell-escape)
 -o <file>, --output <file>
 copy resulting PDF into <file> (usually ending with .pdf)
 Implies "--cleanup all"
 --tmpdirprefix where temporary directory will be created (default: /tmp).
 Relative path will use repository root as a base
 --verbose, -v give more verbose output
 --quiet redirect output from subprocesses to log files
 --prepare <cmd> run <cmd> before latexdiff (e.g. run make to generate
 included files)
 --ln-untracked symlink uncommited files from the working directory
 --version show git-latexdiff version.
 --subtree checkout the tree at and below the main file
 (enabled by default, disable with --whole-tree)
 --whole-tree checkout the whole tree (contrast with --subtree)
 --ignore-latex-errors keep on going even if latex gives errors, so long as
 a PDF file is produced
 --ignore-makefile ignore the Makefile, build as though it doesn't exist
 -* other options are passed directly to latexdiff
 --bbl shortcut to flatten a bbl file of the same name as the project
 --latexpand OPT pass option OPT to latexpand. Use multiple times like
 --latexpand OPT1 --latexpand OPT2 to pass multiple options.
 --latexdiff-flatten use --flatten from latexdiff instead of latexpand

Unrecognized options are passed unmodified to latexdiff.

git-latexdiff usage

The main CLI usage of git-latexdiff is:

git latexdiff --main YOURFILE OLD_HASH [NEW_HASH]

A bunch of useful options are available for git-latexdiff. For example:

-v # good in case you run into any errors
--cleanup keeppdf # delete the checked-out 'old' and 'new' folders but keep the pdf
--cleanup all # delete all generated files afterwards
--output FILE # copy pdf before deleting it to FILE (disables automatically viewing the pdf). good in combination with --cleanup all
--tmpdirprefix ./FOLDERNAME/ # alternative to the above: specify where temporary stuff is stored, makes it easier to access diff files. good in combination with --cleanup keeppdf
--bibtex # also run bibtex
--biber # also run biber

Therefore, the command you might want to run therefore might be similar to this:

git latexdiff --main MYFILE.tex --bibtex --output git-latexdiff.pdf --cleanup all OLD_HASH NEW_HASH

…where you can specify


as NEW_HASH, if you want to run git latexdiff against the current (possibly unstaged/uncommited) version of the file, or where you can leave out NEW_HASH completely, if you want to run it against the last commit. Or your command might look similar to this:

mkdir git-latexdiff; git latexdiff --main MYFILE.tex --tmpdirprefix ./git-latexdiff/ --cleanup keeppdf OLD_HASH


Repair PDFLaTeX generated pdf using GhostScript (Adobe Acrobat Reader error 131)

February 28, 2016 Leave a comment

I tend to do presentations using LaTeX and Beamer, while working on Linux and using TeXLive as LaTeX distribution – which all work fine. But sometimes I need to share these PDFLaTeX compiled presentations with people using Windows and Adobe Acrobat Reader as their pdf viewer. The feedback I usually get back: your pdf is broken, error 131. And frankly, that seems to be true.

Opening PDFLaTeX generated pdf files with Windows Adobe Acrobat Reader results in error 131 – more precisely in the displayed error message “There was a problem reading this document (131)”. Other pdf viewers don’t complain about the pdf, just Adobe Acrobat Reader. A quick solution to repair the pdf file is by using GhostScript:

gs -dSAFER -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE  -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=output.pdf input.pdf</code></pre>

Voilà, the pdf file can be opened using Adobe Acrobat Reader – although, the source of the problem still exists of course (generating a pdf file not adhering the standard in the first place).

latexdiff-git: highlight changes between revisions of latex files managed in git

July 31, 2014 1 comment

latexdiff is a useful tool to determine changes between different versions of latex files and highlight them in a pdf (similar to MS word does with tracking changes). latexdiff-git is a wrapper around latexdiff optimized for git (and mercurial, but we’ll only look into git here). With it you can specify a latex document file (which is in a git repository) and a commit hash from that repository to look for changes between the file and its version from the specified commit. Same is possible with e.g. specifying two different commit hashes.

Installation (Linux)

  1. Clone latexdiff-git
    git clone
  2. All further steps are stated in the README file inside the repository you just cloned:
    1. Ensure you have a ~/.gitconfig file and that it’s accessible for your user.
    2. Add the following lines to .git/config
       cmd = latexdiff "$LOCAL" "$REMOTE"
       prompt = false
       ldiff = difftool -t latex
    3. Change the checked out script file search for revlatexdiffcmd='please define' and replace it with revlatexdiffcmd='git ldiff'
  3. Place somewhere in your path (I tend to place it in ~/bin) and make it executable: chmod +x


You can generate a tex file from differences between a latex file and a revision checked into git with (replace GITHASH and FILE with your git commit hash and latex file)

latexdiff-git -r GITHASH FILE

Alternatively you can generate the tex file from changes between two specific commits of a latex file:

latexdiff-git -r GITHASH1 -r GITHASH2 FILE

To view changes hightlighted in a pdf:

pdflatex *diff*tex # create pdf highlighting diff
evince *diff*pdf # replace evince with your preferred pdf-viewer
Categories: Misc Tags: , , , , , ,