Background information#

About documents separated in several files#

LaTeX documents may be spread over multiple files. TeXstudio automatically understands parent/child relations of loaded documents. This includes the detection of the root document and knowledge on defined labels and commands.

Root Document#

The root document is the top-most file in a multi-file document. For a single-file document this is the file itself. By default, all calls to LaTeX will be performed on the root document except if a class subfiles is used. Then the next higher file with that document-class is compiled.

TeXstudio automatically detects the root document. If that does not work, you can place a magic comment % !TeX root = root-filename at the top of your included files.

As a last resort, you may set an explicit root document via Options -> Root Document -> Set Current Document As Explicit Root. This setting takes absolute precedence. All the commands of the “Tools” menu will be called on this document (to be more precise, the build system will expand the placeholder % to the root document), no matter which document is active in the editor. Additionally, labels and user-commands which are defined in any open document, can be used for completion in any open document.

In earlier versions, the explicit root document was somewhat misleadingly called master document.

Loaded Documents#

Obviously, TeXstudio can only use information (defined commands, labels, document hierarchy, etc.) that it is aware of. We use the information in all opened files, but if a label in a multi-file document is defined in a not-loaded files, TeXstudio does not know about it and will mark it as missing in references. To remedy this, you can just open the corresponding file as well.

TeXstudio has an advanced option Editor -> Automatically load included files. TeXstudio will automatically load and parse all files of multi-file-documents as soon as one of the files is opened. You may have to set the magic comment % !TeX root = root-filename if you do not have the root document open. With this option enabled TeXstudio will always know about your complete document and act accordingly when performing highlighting or completion.

The option Editor -> cache included files lets txs store important information about opened files on the disk. If the files are reopened, it uses the cached information to speed-up loading. Only if a file is explicitly opened in a tab, txs loads the complete file from disk. In cached files, txs does not search, e.g. with find usages or find in project. The preview for labels does not work if the label is defined in a cached file. If that functionality is important for you, deactivate caching or load explicitly the files when needed.

Overview of TeXstudio command-line options#

texstudio file [--config DIR] [--root] [--line xx[:cc]] [--insert-cite citation] [--start-always] [--pdf-viewer-only] [--page yy] [--no-session]



--config DIR

use the specified settings directory.

--ini-file FILE

deprecated: use --config instead.


option to specify a path to search for the TeX binaries


defines the document as explicit root document (formerly called master document).


deprecated: use --root instead.

--line xx[:cc]

position the cursor at line LINE and column COL, e.g. “–line 2:5” will jump to column 5 in line 2.

--insert-cite citation

pushes a bibtex key to TeXstudio, that will be inserted at the cursor position. This is intended as an interface for external bibliography managers to push citations to TeXstudio. You may either pass an (also custom) command like \mycite{key} or just the key. In the latter case, it is expanded to \cite{key}. Also comma separated key-lists are supported. TeXstudio recognizes, if the cursor is already within a citation macro. If so, only the key is inserted at an appropriate position, otherwise the full citation command is inserted.


start a new instance, even if TXS is already running. This allows using of multiple instances.


run as a standalone pdf viewer without an editor


display a certain page in the pdf viewer


do not load/save the session at startup/close

Additional options only available in debug versions of TeXstudio:




Prevent running any tests.


Force running the most common tests.


Force running all tests.


generate file additionaltranslation.cppwhich contains translatable string from uiconfig.xml.

Note: The most common tests are run automatically, if there were changes to the executable (i.e. TXS has been compiled since the last run). Furthermore all tests are run once a week.

Description of the cwl format#

cwl stands for completion word list and is a file format originally used in Kile to define the commands listed in the completer. TeXstudio uses an extended format of cwls to include additional semantic information and allow for cursor and placeholder placement. It uses them for the following purposes:

  • Populating the autocompletion

  • Knowledge on the valid commands in the current document (depending on \usepackage statements)

  • Semantic information that provide additional context in the editor; e.g. a \ref-like command will check for the existence of the referenced label

cwl file format#

Each line of a cwl file defines a command. Comment lines are possible and start with #. The command syntax is


If no classification is given, the command is considered valid at any position in a LaTeX document. The char # cannot be used inside a command, as it has special meaning:

  • #include:<packagename> (at start of line): also load packagename.cwl. This should be used to indicate that a package depends on other packages.

  • #repl:<search> <replacement> (at start of line): define a letter replacement, e.g. “a -> ä for German. Only used for letter replacement in spell checking (babel)

  • #keyvals:<command[,command,...]> (at start of line): start definition of keyvals for command, see graphicx.cwl in source code. To specify possible values for keys, add them after # e.g. mode=#text,math
    Instead of single keys/values, complete special lists can be given, e.g. color=#%color, see also tikz.cwl.
    command can consist of two parts, e.g. \documentclass/thesis which is only valid when the command \documentclass uses thesis as argument.
    If #c is added, the keyvals are only used for completion, not for syntax checking
    If ##L is added to a key, a length is expected as argument.
    If ##l is added to a key, the argument is defining a label. (see listings.cwl)

  • #endkeyvals (at start of line): end definition of keyvals, see graphicx.cwl in source code

  • #ifOption:<option> (at start of line): the following block is only loaded if <option> was used in the usepackage command, e.g. \usepackage[svgnames]{color} -> option=svgnames

  • #endif (at start of line): end conditional block

  • # (at start of line with the exception of #include, #repl, #keyvals or #endkeyvals): This line is a comment and will be ignored.

  • # (in the middle of a line): Separates the command from the classification

cwl files should be encoded as UTF-8.

Command format#

In its simplest form the command is just a valid LaTeX expression as you find it in the documentation, e.g. \section{title}. By default, every option is treated as a placeholder. Alteratively, you may either just define a stop position for the cursor by %| (Example: \left(%|\right)) or use %< %> to mark only part of an option as placeholder (Example: \includegraphics[scale=%<1%>]{file}). New lines can be included in a command by %\.

Argument Names#

The argument names are visible in the completer window and after completion as placeholders in the editor. In general, you are free to name the arguments as you like. We encourage to provide meaningful names e.g. \parbox[position]{width}{text} instead of \parbox[arg1]{arg2}{arg3}.

There are a few argument names that have special meaning:

  • text or ends with %text: The spellchecker will operate inside this argument (by default arguments are not spellchecked).

  • title, ends with %title, short title or ends with %short title: The spellchecker will operate inside this argument (by default arguments are not spellchecked). Furthermore the argument will be set in bold text (like in section).

  • bibid and keylists: If used in a command classified as “C”. See the classifier description below.

  • cmd and command or ends with %cmd: definition for command, e.g. \newcommand{cmd}. This “cmd” will considered to have no arguments and convey no functionality.

  • def and definition or ends with %definition: actual definition for command, e.g. \newcommand{cmd}{definition}. This “definition” will ignored for syntax check.

  • args: number of arguments for command, e.g. \newcommand{cmd}[args]{definition}.

  • package: package name, e.g. \usepackage{package}

  • citekey: definition of new citation key name, e.g. \bibitem{citekey}

  • title and short title: section name, e.g. \section[short title]{title}

  • color: color name, e.g. \textcolor{color}

  • width, length, height or ends with %l: width or length option e.g. \abc{size%l}

  • cols and preamble: columns definition in tabular, etc., e.g. \begin{tabular}{cols}

  • file or ends with %file: file name

  • URL: URL

  • options: package options, e.g. \usepackage[options]

  • imagefile: file name of an image

  • ends with %todo: The argument is highlighted as todo. Note: To add the element to the todo list in the structure panel, you have to additionally add the classifier D. See todonotes.cwl for an example.

  • key, key1, and key2: label/ref key

  • label with option #r or key ending with %ref: ref key

  • label with option #l or key ending with %labeldef: defines a label

  • labellist: list of labels as employed by cleveref

  • bib file and bib files: bibliography file

  • class: document class

  • placement and position: position of env

  • %plain: options ending with %plain are interpreted to have no special meaning. This way, you can e.g. define label%plain to have a placeholder named label without the semantics that it defines a label.

  • beamertheme: beamer theme, e.g. \usebeamertheme{beamertheme}

  • keys, keyvals, %<options%> or ends with %keyvals: key/value list

  • envname, environment name or ends with %envname: environment name for \newtheorem, e.g. \newtheorem{envname}#N (classification N needs to be present!)

  • verbatimSymbol: verbatim argument, e.g. \verb|%<text%>| and \verb{verbatimSymbol}#S from latex-document.cwl in source code.

  • formula or ends with %formula: The argument is always treated as if in math-mode. See chemformula.cwl for an example.

  • ends with %special: special argument which relates to data defined via special definition, see classifier ‘s’. The database is the text before %.

  • ends with %specialDef: special argument which defines data for a database, see classifier ‘s’.

A %-suffix takes precedence over detection by name, i.e. an argument file%text will be treated as text not as file.

Classification format#

The following classifications are known to TXS:




unusual command which is used for completion only in with the “all” tab. This marker may be followed by other classifications.


do not show in completer at all. This marker may be followed by other classifications.


do not use this as command description.


valid only in math environment


valid only in tabular environment (or similar)


valid only in tabbing environment


valid only in text environment (i.e. not math env)


this command declares a reference like “\ref{key}”


this command declares a citation like “\cite{key}”


this command declares a complex citation like “\textcquote{bibid}{text}”. The key needs to be given as bibid


this command declares a label like “\label{key}”


this command declares a definition command like “\newcommand{cmd}{def}”


this command declares an include graphics command like “\includegraphics{file}”


this command declares an include file command like “\include{file}”


this command declares an import file command like “\import{path}{file}”


this command declares an used package like “\usepackage{package}”


this command declares a bibliography like “\bibliography{bib}”


this command declares a url command like “\url{URL}, where URL is not checked”


this command declares a bracket-like command like “\big{”


this command declares a todo item (will be added to the todo list in the side panel). Note: To highlight the item in the editor, you have to additionally add the suffix %todo. See todonotes.cwl for an example.


this command declares a color (will be used for color completion only, no syntax checking)


this command declares a special definition, the definition class is given after a “#”. The class name needs a preceding %. (e.g. %color), also see the examples below. Data is inserted again in %special argument or via keyvals.


this command declares a verbatim-like environment “\begin{Verbatim}”


this command declares a newtheorem-like command like “\newtheorem{envname}”

L0 to L5

this command declares a structure command. The level is between L0 (\part-like) down to L5 (\subparagraph-like). Structure commands are highlighted in the code, can be folded and appear in the structure outline.


valid only in environment env1 or env2 etc.


environment alias, means that the environment is handled like the “env” environment. This is useful for env=math or tabular.




# test



unusual command which is only shown in completion “all”


only in math mode valid


declares a reference command which is used correctly for completion


unusual command which is valid only in the picture environment


declares that the “align”-environment is handled like a math-env, concerning command validity and syntax highlighting!


adds name to the special list %color


insert element from special list %color (here used as example)


defines the second argument as label. Note: the argument has to be named label for this to work.


defines the second argument as label, but you are free to choose the name customname which will be used as a placeholder in the completer.


defines the second and third arguments as labels.

cwl guidelines#

Though TeXstudio can automatically create cwls from packages, these autogenerated cwls do not contain meaningful argument names and no classification of commands. Therefore we ship hand-tuned cwls for many packages. We encourage users to contribute new cwl files. These should have the following attributes:

  • package-based: Each cwl should correspond to a package. The exception are some cwls containing fundamental (La)TeX commands, but we’ve already written them so you should not have to bother. The cwl should be named like the package so that automatic loading works. If you \usepackage{mypackage} TeXstudio will load mypackage.cwl if available.

  • complete: The cwl should contain all commands in the package. If you use a non-specified command in the editor, the syntax-checker will mark it as unknown.

  • specific: The commands should be classified if possible. This allows TeXstudio to give additional context to the command (e.g. warn if a math command is used outside of a math environment or check references and citations.

  • prioritized: Some packages may specify very many commands. Mark the unusual ones by the *-classifier to prevent the completer from overcrowding with rarely used commands.

cwl file placement#

cwl files can be provided from three locations. If present, the user provided cwl is taken, if not built-in versions are taken. As a last resort, txs automatically generates cwls from latex styles, though these only serve to provide syntax information. Context information for arguments are not available and no completion hints are given.

  • %appdata%\texstudio\completion\user or .config/texstudio/completion/user user generated cwls

  • built-in

  • %appdata%\texstudio\completion\autogenerated or .config/texstudio/completion/autogenerated auto-generated cwls

The Document Template Format#

In its simplest form, a template is only a .tex file. Multi-file templates can be created by packaging all .tex files in a zip archive. Optionally, meta data can be stored in JSON format in a separate file with the same name, but extension “.json” instead of “.tex” or “.zip”. Currently the following entries are supported in the meta data:

"Name"        : "Book",
"Author"      : "TXS built-in",
"Date"        : "04.01.2013",
"Version"     : "1.1",
"Description" : "Default LaTeX class for books using separate files for each chapter.",
"License"     : "Public Domain",
"FilesToOpen" : "./TeX_files/chapter01.tex;main.tex"

FilesToOpen only has an effect for multi-file documents. You may add a preview image next to the template file. Again, it must have the same name, but extension “.png”.

Creating table templates#

The templates can be defined by the user as well. They have to be place in the config directory (Linux: ~/.config/texstudio) and need to named after the scheme tabletemplate_name.js.

Meta data is used to provide additional information for the template. It can be stored in a metaData object in the source code. The code var metaData = { has to start on the first line of the file. Currently only string values are accepted. It is possible to use html tags for formatting. Example:

var metaData = {
"Name"       : "Colored rows",
"Description" : "Formats the table using alternate colors for rows. <br> <code>\usepackage[table]{xcolor}</code> is necessary.",
"Author"      : "Jan Sundermeyer",
"Date"        : "4.9.2011",
"Version"     : "1.0"

The template itself is a javascript (see above) with some predefined variables which contain the whole table. The new table is just placed as replacement of the old one, using information from that variables. 3 variables are given:

  • def the simplified table definition without any formatting (i.e. ll instead of |l|l|)

  • defSplit the table definition split by column (array=l,l,p{2cm})

  • env the actual environment name of the old table like “tabular” or “longtable”

  • tab the actual table. It is a list of lines, each line is a list of columns which contains the cell content as string

To see the principle of work, the source for the “plain_tabular” template is given here.

function print(str){ //define this function to make source more readable
function println(str){ //define this function to make source more readable
var arDef=def.split("") // split the table definition (ll -> 'l' 'l')
println("\\begin{tabular}{"+arDef.join("")+"}") //print table env
for(var i=0;i<tab.length;i++){  // loop through all rows of the table
    var line=tab[i];  // line is a list of all columns of row[i]
    for(var j=0;j<line.length;j++){ // loop through all columns of a row
        print(line[j]) // print cell
        if(j<line.length-1) // if not last columns
            print("&") // print &
    println("\\\\") // close row with \\, note that js demands for backslashes in the string
println("\\end{tabular}") // close environment

As can be seen in the example, the table has to be rebuilt completely, thus allowing new formatting. A second example gives a slightly more elaborate table (fullyframed_firstBold):

function print(str){
function println(str){
for(var i=0;i<tab.length;i++){
    var line=tab[i];
    for(var j=0;j<line.length;j++){
                var col=line[j];
                var mt=col.match(/^\\textbf/);
                if(i==0 && !mt)
                if(i==0 && !mt)
    println("\\\\ \\hline")

Style Sheets#

Qt supports modifying the appearance of an application using style sheets. You may use this to adapt the GUI of the main window by placing a file stylesheet.qss into the settings directory. The file is read at program startup.

Please note that the style sheet may interfere with other ways of configuring the GUI, in particular the style color scheme and other options. Therefore we do not guarantee a consistent behavior when using style sheets

Writing your own language definitions#

TeXstudio uses QCodeEdit as editor component. It specifies languages in a special xml format named QNFA. This includes highlighting, parentheses (for matching) and code folding. In a normal TeXstudio installation you won’t find any .qnfa files, because we compile the files of the included languages into the binary. You can add your own languages or overwrite the default ones by placing appropriate .qnfa files in a languages folder inside the settings directory. Definitions here take precedence over the builtin ones.

The .qnfa file specifies the syntax of the language. The actual format information is specified in a .qxf file. You can either use the formats specified in defaultFormats.qxf or provide your own .qxf file along with the .qnfa file.

You should read the syntax format specification and have a look at the formats shipped with TeXstudio.

Note: We expose the language specification to you as end-user to give you more flexibility in adapting TeXstudio to your needs. But you should take it as is, because we don’t have the capacity to give support here. It’s a powerful API, but neither polished nor fully featured. You might find some constructs in the shipped .qnfa files, which are not documented in the syntax format specification. Additionally, the regular-expression based formatting of QNFA is not sufficient to define all the highlighting we wanted for LaTeX. Therefore we have extra highlighting functionality directly implemented in the sourcecode for the “(La)TeX” language, e.g. the highlighting inside the parentheses of \begin and \end. You won’t be able to modify this or add it to other languages.


The following is a small example which specifies some highlighting of python code:


<QNFA language="Python" extensions="py" defaultLineMark="">
    <sequence parenthesis="round:open" parenthesisWeight="00">\(</sequence>
    <sequence parenthesis="round:close" parenthesisWeight="00">\)</sequence>

    <!-- highlight def and function name -->
    <sequence id="python/definition" format="python:definition">def$s?$w*</sequence>

    <sequence id="python/number" format="python:number">[0-9]+</sequence>

    <list id="python/keyword" format="python:keyword">


<QXF version="1.0" >
    <!-- full specification -->
    <format id="python:keyword" >
    <!-- but it is sufficient to specify deviations from default -->
    <format id="python:number" >
    <format id="python:definition" >

The results is the following highlighting:

Building TeXstudio#

TeXstudio uses cmake as a building system.

To compile and install TeXstudio, write in a terminal:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..
cmake --build . --target install

On Unix and MacOSX you can also use: sudo sh

(you only need to use sudo if you want to install it system-wide)

Requirements :

  • Qt tool kit ( (6.2+ recommended)

  • Poppler for the internal pdf preview (is automatically disabled if poppler is not found)

More details on building TeXstudio can be found in the wiki.

cmake detects the presence of optional dependencies and builds accordingly. The optional dependencies are listed below.


feature when present

when not present


internal pdf viewer

no pdf viewer


use system libquazip

build and use internal libquazip


use system hunspell

build and use internal hunspell


provide terminal pane

no terminal pane

TeXstudio offers some optional features which can be turned on/off as desired. The change is done via cmake options, e.g. cmake -DTEXSTUDIO_ENABLE_CRASH_HANDLER=OFF ..







provide a crash handler



build adwaita style



build self-tests



build debug logger



build with pdf multimedia support. Requires QtMultimedia



on linux, install texstudio.metainfo.xml

Updating translations#

With cmake the command lupdate does not work directly. Instead when building for qt6 a debug build (DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug), a target texstudio_lupdate is defined which needs to be called.

build>qt-cmake .. -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug
build>cmake --build . -t texstudio_lupdate