CTAN Comprehensive TeX Archive Network

Directory macros/latex/base


The kernel

Release 2020-10-01 patch level 1


This bundle provides the core kernel. In addition to this bundle, a minimal system also needs the files contained in the

  • team documentation (doc)
  • Packages which must be available (required). These are
    • Essential tools (tools)
    • Core graphics and color support (graphics)
    • Key mathematics support (amsmath)

This file contains a small set of pointers to other more complete documentation on installing and using a system.


Full documentation of the system is provided by

  • : A Document Preparation System; Lamport, Addison-Wesley
  • The Companion, 2ed; Mittelbach and Goossens with Braams, Carlisle and Rowley, Addison-Wesley
  • Guide to , 4ed; Kopka and Daly, Addison-Wesley

The distribution is described in files ending .txt or .md; briefly, the most significant of these files are

  • README.md is this file
  • manifest.txt lists all the files in this distribution, with one line of information about the contents
  • legal.txt and lppl.txt ( Project Public License) describe the copyright, warranty and copying restrictions.
  • texpert.txt contains information about the system that may still be useful for experts
  • tex2.txt contains important information for users of extremely old versions of (pre 1990)
  • bugs.txt describes how to submit a bug report for

Other documentation files include files with names of the form:


You will probably need to update your system before you can typeset these files. Each file needs three runs. Some of these are also available as PDF files on CTAN.

The following files contain further information:

  • ltx3info.tex gives you some historical information about the 3 project
  • manual.err lists errata in : A Document Preparation System (Lamport)
  • tlc2.err lists errata in The Companion (Mittelbach et al.)

The files ltnews*.tex (part of the doc bundle) contain the newsletters, the highest number being the most recent.

For historical reasons, the base distribution and the core documentation are bundled separately. Documentation is found in the doc bundle. In an installed system, base and doc should be placed within the same location; the distinction is therefore primarily of importance when looking at the development code.


We no longer distribute installation instructions for the various implementations. All modern systems include as-standard, and end users should in general use the release versions supplied in this way.

Release distribution is carried out only through the CTAN archives.


The kernel requires the extensions to , which were finalised in the late 1990s and are available in modern -derived engines. Some new features require \ifincsname, which is currently available in release versions of pdf, and Lua, and is being introduced shortly in e-p and e-up.


The contents of this bundle are distributed under the Project Public License, version 1.3c or later.

Copyright (C) 1989-2020 The LaTeX Project
All rights reserved.

Download the contents of this package in one zip archive (26.6M).

latex-base – Base sources of

This bundle comprises the source of itself, together with several packages which are considered ‘part of the kernel’. This bundle, together with the required packages, constitutes what every distribution should contain.

LicensesThe Project Public License 1.3c
Copyright1989–2020 The 3 Project et al.
MaintainerThe Team
Frank Mittelbach
TDS archivelatex-base.tds.zip
Contained inTeX Live as latex
MiKTeX as ltxbase
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