Getting Started


A lexer and codec to work with LaTeX code in Python.


Install the module with pip install latexcodec, or from source using python install.

Minimal Example

Simply import the latexcodec module to enable "latex" to be used as an encoding:

import latexcodec
text_latex = b"\\'el\\`eve"
assert text_latex.decode("latex") == u"élève"
text_unicode = u"ångström"
assert text_unicode.encode("latex") == b'\\aa ngstr\\"om'

There are also a ulatex encoding for text transforms. The simplest way to use this codec goes through the codecs module (as for all text transform codecs on Python):

import codecs
import latexcodec
text_latex = u"\\'el\\`eve"
assert codecs.decode(text_latex, "ulatex") == u"élève"
text_unicode = u"ångström"
assert codecs.encode(text_unicode, "ulatex") == u'\\aa ngstr\\"om'

By default, the LaTeX input is assumed to be ascii, as per standard LaTeX. However, you can also specify an extra codec as latex+<encoding> or ulatex+<encoding>, where <encoding> describes another encoding. In this case characters will be translated to and from that encoding whenever possible. The following code snippet demonstrates this behaviour:

import latexcodec
text_latex = b"\xfe"
assert text_latex.decode("latex+latin1") == u"þ"
assert text_latex.decode("latex+latin2") == u"ţ"
text_unicode = u"ţ"
assert text_unicode.encode("latex+latin1") == b'\\c t'  # ţ is not latin1
assert text_unicode.encode("latex+latin2") == b'\xfe'   # but it is latin2

When encoding using the ulatex codec, you have the option to pass through characters that cannot be encoded in the desired encoding, by using the 'keep' error. This can be a useful fallback option if you want to encode as much as possible, whilst still retaining as much as possible of the original code when encoding fails. If instead you want to translate to LaTeX but keep as much of the unicode as possible, use the ulatex+utf8 codec, which should never fail.

import codecs
import latexcodec
text_unicode = u'⌨'  # \u2328 = keyboard symbol, currently not translated
    # raises a value error as \u2328 cannot be encoded into latex
    codecs.encode(text_unicode, "ulatex+ascii")
except ValueError:
assert codecs.encode(text_unicode, "ulatex+ascii", "keep") == u'⌨'
assert codecs.encode(text_unicode, "ulatex+utf8") == u'⌨'


  • Not all unicode characters are registered. If you find any missing, please report them on the tracker:
  • Unicode combining characters are currently not handled.
  • By design, the codec never removes curly brackets. This is because it is very hard to guess whether brackets are part of a command or not (this would require a full latex parser). Moreover, bibtex uses curly brackets as a guard against case conversion, in which case automatic removal of curly brackets may not be desired at all, even if they are not part of a command. Also see: