Tools for writing latex papers

pip install preprint==0.3



Tools for preparing astrophysics papers. Preprint lets you automatically compile, typeset document differences and package the manuscript for publication.

Installation requires cliff, the watchdog package, the GitPython >=0.3 package, and a recent version of setuptools. Preprint also works well with latexmk for compiling latex, and vc for adding version control meta data to compiled documents.

To install from PyPI:

pip install preprint

Or to install from source, check the code out and run:

python install

After installing, try preprint --help for more info.

Preprint currently supports the following commands (see below for a reference):

  • preprint make to do a one-off compilation of the paper,
  • preprint watch to automatically compile the paper if source is changed,
  • preprint diff to run latexdiff against a commit in Git,
  • preprint pack to package the document for journals or the arXiv.
  • preprint init to setup your project with preprint.json configurations.

Check the GitHub Issues to submit additional ideas.

A taste of preprint

Preprint is pretty easy to use. Here's a few commands to give a flavour of what it can do:

preprint init  # this is all the setup you need
preprint make  # compiles the doc according to your compile command
preprint watch --diff 8a42f2b  # live-updating latex diff against git history
preprint pack my_paper --style arxiv  # pack it up for arXiv submission

Configuration System / preprint.json

preprint configurations are determined from (in order of increasing precedence): internal defaults, a project-specific JSON file, and command line arguments.

To create a preprint.json configuration file for your project, from your paper's directory simply run:

preprint init

It will automatically find the root latex file for your paper. You can open preprint.json to take a look at its format and modify the configurations further. Here is an example of its format:

    "master": "paper.tex",
    "exts": ["tex", "pdf", "eps"],
    "cmd": "latexmk -f -pdf -bibtex-cond {master}"

If set in preprint.json, any command line setting of the same name does not need to repeated.

List of Configurations

(type: string) Name of latex document to be compiled (or the root latex document containing documentclass). Defaults to 'article.tex', but preprint init will set this for you.
(type: list of strings) List of file extensions used by the watch command. If any file with this extension in changed in the project, a compile will be triggered by preprint watch. This setting is also used by preprint pack to figure out your preferences for figure file types. For example, ["tex", "pdf", "eps"] will try to include pdf figures before falling back to eps files, while ["tex", "eps", "pdf"] will have the opposite behavior. Defaults to ["tex", "pdf", "eps"].
(type: string) The command to run when making a document. This is used by preprint make and preprint watch (preprint diff and preprint watch --diff will always use latexmk). The command string can include {master} to interpolate the path of the master tex file. Defaults to "latexmk -f -pdf -bibtex-cond {master}".

Command Reference


preprint init will create a default preprint.json configuration file for your project.


preprint init

After running, take a look at preprint.json to edit the configurations. See 'Configuration System / preprint.json' (above) for more information.


preprint make will perform a one-off compilation of your paper.


preprint [--master MASTER] make [--cmd CMD]

Optional arguments:
--master   Name of the root LaTeX file (eg, paper.tex)
--cmd      Name of command to run when a change occurs

If preprint.json is setup, you can just run:

preprint make


preprint watch will automatically compile your paper if a TeX or graphics source file is changed.


preprint [--master MASTER] watch [--exts EXT1, ..., EXTN; --cmd CMD; --diff [SHA]]

Optional arguments:
--master   Name of the root LaTeX file (eg, paper.tex)
--exts     List of file extensions (defaults to `pdf eps tex`)
--cmd      Name of command to run when a change occurs
--diff     Run a latexdiff compile against the given commit SHA from the git repository (HEAD if blank).

For example, to continuously compile the document whenever .tex or figures have changed, and assuming you've setup a preprint.json file with the name of your master document, just run:

preprint watch

To continuously run a latexdiff-based compile, showing all changes you've made against the HEAD of the git repository, run:

preprint watch --diff

The document will be saved to build/PAPER_NAME_diff.pdf. This is a nice way of keeping track of what you're doing.

Finally, to continuously run a latexdiff-based compile against an arbitrary commit in your git history, just copy the commit SHA fragment (say, b91688d) and run:

preprint watch --diff b91688d


preprint diff will typeset the document with revisions highlighted between the currently checked-out version, and a previous git commit. This command is powered by the latexdiff (which is probably installed with your tex distribution). The command also requires latexmk to compile the difference document. This command is compatible with documents that use \input{} to combine text documents; in fact, included documents are inlined recursively. preprint diff was inspired by this blog post by Andy Casey.


preprint [--master MASTER] diff PREV_SHA [-n NAME]

PREV_SHA   A SHA fragment or tag name pointing to the previous revision.

Optional arguments:
--master   Name of the root LaTeX file (eg, paper.tex)
-n         Output name of the difference document (eg. diff.tex)


preprint pack prepares a preprint for submission to a journal. This pipeline includes:

  1. Creating a build directory and copying over just the required manuscript files,
  2. Inlining all inputted latex files (either with \input{} or \InputIfFileExists syntax),
  3. Copying the .bbl bibliography or inlining it into the manuscript, as necessary.
  4. Moving figures to the root directory and updating tex source,
  5. Deleting comments; don't be a tweet on @OverheardOnAph,
  6. Renaming figures to conform to AASTeX if necessary,
  7. Making JPEG versions of figures to to fulfill arXiv file size requirements, if necessary. This requires imagemagick.

This command is inspired by Erik Tollerud's Astropysics package, but is designed around regular expressions for text transformation. The implementation should thus be easier.


preprint [--master MASTER] pack NAME [--style STYLE; --exts EXT1, ..., EXTN]

NAME   Name of the build. Products copied to build/NAME directory.

Optional arguments:
--master   Name of the root LaTeX file (eg, paper.tex)
--exts     File format priority for figures (e.g., ``eps, pdf``)
--style    Style for the build (default is ``aastex``, can also be ``arxiv``).
--maxsize  Maximum size of figure in MB before compressing into jpg (for
           ``arxiv``). Default is 2.5 MB.

Note that the --exts option can be used to prefer a certain file format for the build if you maintain both EPS and PDF figure sets. For example, to generate a manuscript for a AAS journal, run:

preprint pack my_aas_build --style aastex --exts eps

And to build for the arxiv, where PDF figures are preferred, run:

preprint pack my_arxiv_build --style arxiv --exts pdf


Preprint is developed on GitHub. Contributions and suggestions are welcome; read the CONTRIBUTING guidelines for instructions on how to help.

Copyright 2014 Jonathan Sick, @jonathansick

Licensed BSD.