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Directory macros/latex/contrib/highlightlatex


Highlight : Pretty code within

Teaching other people is great fun, and I've seen plenty of slides and readers doing so. You show what you achieve, and how you achieve it. However, while the you achieve might look splendid, showing code is often done using very rudimentary solutions (like plain old verbatim).

They're not to blame: I didn't find pretty colored highlighting either. I sure want it, and if you're reading this, you probably too, so I've made a package for it! It builds further on the generic listings package to provide colored highlighting for . The file demo.tex achieves this:

<img src="assets/demoshowoff.png" width="600" alt="highlight demo" title="Highlight demo">

Manual installation

  1. Download the .sty file, e.g.

right click here and select 'save as'.

  1. Copy the file to the directory where your .tex file is at...
  2. ... or make it available for all your .tex files by placing the file in your TEXMF root.

Locating TEXTMF root

Note the following default locations:

   MiKTeX on Windows:
     global installation: C:\Program Files\MiKTeX\tex\latex
     local installation: %AppData%\..\Local\Programs\MiKTeX\tex\latex
   TeX Live on Linux or Mac:

On Windows you can open a path by pasting the address in the Windows Explorer address bar, or pressing Start +R and pasting the address there. One of these directories should contain a long list of packages you have installed. If you can't it, and you use MiK, open MiK Console and open the directories listed under Settings > Directories with Purpose set to Install. Doesn't it exist? Append a tex or latex directory to the path.

Adding the package

Add a new directory called highlightlatex and place the .sty file in it. Then refresh the file name database:

  • For MiK on Windows open MiK Console and execute Tasks > Refresh file name database. For Live on Linux or Mac, execute in a terminal sudo texhash.
4. Add \usepackage{highlightlatex} to your .tex file.
  1. For usage of this package, consult the demo files, or read the documentation below.

Getting started

After having added the package, you can add in two ways:

  • Inline style:
  Your file begins with a line of the form \hll|\documentclass[]{}|. The
  square brackets ...

The first non-space character following \hll is delimits the argument to this command.

  • Block style:
  Your basic document now looks like
          Hello world!

To prevent indentation of our highlightblock (here one tab), to be shown as part of the code, the gobble parameters strips them off. Play around with it until everything looks right. I recommend to set this value globally using \def\defaultgobble{2}. You can still override that, if necessary.

There are situations where width of the block could run out of the page. For example, when using beamer and storing a block as described in the section 'Fragile breaking situations', the normal full-width of a slide is assumed. If you use multiple columns, set the linewidth on the highlightblock. This can be a fraction of the total slide width available, 0.6\textwidth is 60% of the width, or an absolute value, like 10em, which seems to equal 20 characters.

There are more keys you can provide. Check the listings package documentation for options available to the lstlisting-environment and lstset command.

Adding a command to a highlighting rule

By default, only some commands will be highlighted in blue. If there are others you need, like \tableofcontents and \figref, update the highlighting rules:

	name = default,
	add = {
		\tableofcontents, \figref

The changes will affect only code after it. For a use as this example, I recommend putting it in your preamble (before the \begin{document}).

Custom highlighting rules

As shown demo.tex, you can put any command or keyword you want to highlight on in a different color. You do this with

    % A name like 'focus' or 'orange' would be more descriptive,
    % this is just to show you can make up the name yourself.
    name = orangejuice,
    color = orange
    add = {

You can use the xcolor syntax for describing colors as well. If you find the orange too bright, you can replace it with orange!90!black: 90% orange, remaining is black. For more information on color definitions and name, refer to /Colors on Wikibooks.

The argument to \updatehighlight is a key-value list. Keys are processed sequentially. For example, use color before rather than after the add, and a key can appear multiple times. Each one will be processed. You can merge any two \updatehighlight in one. No need to close and reopen \updatehighlight for each highlighting rule.

You might be tempted to add a blank line for clarity; that means a new paragraph too , don't do it. Instead, just put a line with only a % sign. Spacing within the argument is often irrelevant. If you need a comma in the value, surround your value with braces.

The possible keys are:

  • name: Create or modify a named rule. This key is optional.

The default keys are default, which includes a bunch of basic commands, and has by default a dark blue color, and structure, which consists of \begin and \end and prints them in light blue.

Deprecated alias: label

  • classoffset: Set the listings classoffset manually. Try to avoid this. Use name to refer to existing rules instead.
  • add: Add a commands (\mycommand) oor keywords (Hi!) to the current rule. The value can contain multiple values by opening braces, and comma separating values within them.

Deprecated aliases: macros (only for commands), commands (only for commands), and keywords (only for keywords)

  • remove: Remove a commands or keywords from the current rule. The value can contain multiple values by opening braces, and comma separating values within them.
  • clear: Remove all commands and keywords from the current rule. Use without value, for example
      name = default,
  • color: Specify a color for the rule. Equivalent to specifying style instead, with value \color{value} where value is the value for the color key. So color=red and style=\color{red} are equivalent.
  • style: Specify a style for the rule. A rule can only have one style. If you specify a style after add, remove, keywords (deprecated), macros (deprecated) or commands (deprecated), this starts a new (unnamed) rule. In practice, the only style which will probably work for you is only a color, so just use it instead. But hey, you have the option if you want to. :)

Global settings

There are some global parameters involved in the appearance:


Each line can be set independent of eachother, and each shows its default value.

There are package options you can use as well:

  • frame (default lines): specify the frame you want around code. My favorites are lines and none. Check the listings package documentation for all possibilities.
  • noframe (use without value): equivalent to frame=none.
  • styleanywhere (use without value): override the default behavior that style starts a new style after commands like add and remove.

Fragile breaking situations (like beamer frames)

When passing command arguments around, or storing environment content, interprets all characters. This includes seeing \maketitle in \hll|\maketitle| as a real command. To prevent this behavior, everything from \verb, to the verbatim-environment, to the listings package the highlight package uses temporarily changes the interpretation of characters that are still to be read. The blackslash before maketitle in \hll|\maketitle| will be read as just text' (a _letter_ technically). When content has already been interpreted, like the frame-environment in beamer does, this trick can't be done anymore. Instead, you either need to escape code, or pre-process the code outside a fragile breaking situation.

Escaping is done by preceding the special character with a backslash. For example, \hll|\documentclass[]{}| becomes \hll|\\documentclass[]\{\}|.

For large code blocks, this is undesirable. Therefore, the package provides for a companion to the highlightblock-environment: surround it with a saveblock environment which takes a single argument: a name to assign it. We use it to refer to it later. For example:

            \caption{My plot}

Do this outside a fragile breaking situation. (For the frame-environment example, that means just before the frame for example.) Then, where you want to use it, use \useblock{basicfigure}. There is also a variant \consumeblock{basicfigure}. If you save many blocks, these will all remain loaded in memory till your PDF has fully generated. The \consumeblock works like \useblock, except the saved block is deleted from memory after its use. Note this can also result in unexpected behavior, for example animations in a beamer frame might need the code line to be executed multiple times. Use \useblock when you can't make the guarantee this is the last use.

For this special, but very important, situation, I've created a separate demo, which you find at deamerdemo/deamerdemo.tex.

Adding extra space

By default, highlight-latex follows an approach where it minimizes spacing. This gives you full control over how tight or spacious your document looks. Just use commands like \medskip to add extra spacing. The package doesn't currently include an option to have that done everywhere automatically.


The package is available under MIT License. See LICENSE.txt

Download the contents of this package in one zip archive (222.7k).

highlightlatex – Syntax highlighting for

This package provides extensive colored syntax highlighting for . For this purpose it builds on the generic listings package.

Home pagehttps://github.com/vkuhlmann/highlight-latex
Bug trackerhttps://github.com/vkuhlmann/highlight-latex/issues
Version 2021-03-14
LicensesMIT License
Copyright2021 Vincent Kuhlmann
MaintainerVincent Kuhlmann
Contained inTeX Live as highlightlatex
MiKTeX as highlightlatex
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