What's GNU: Texinfo

This month's column discusses the Texinfo document formatting language, which is used for all GNU documentation. Its main feature is that one source file can be used to prepare both printed text, and on-line, hypertext-style documentation.

Texinfo provides a clean input language with everything necessary for producing handsome printed documentation and highly usable on-line hypertext help. The info viewer provides a friendly interface for reading the on-line Info files.

The nicest thing I have found about Texinfo is that you don't need to know TeX to use it. I have been happily writing in Texinfo for around seven years, and have not really needed to learn TeX. Even though Texinfo has over 160 commands, what I've covered in this article is 95% of what most people would use on a day-to-day basis.

I also recommend buying and reading the Texinfo manual from the FSF. It is well-written and thorough. You will need to do this anyway if you plan to write a large Texinfo file, as this article has just scratched the surface. The Texinfo manual comes with the Texinfo distribution, and is of course written in Texinfo; this provides a nice example that uses all of Texinfo's features.


Thanks to Miriam Robbins for making me clarify a number of points in this article, and to Robert J. Chassell of the FSF (primary author of the Texinfo manual) for his comments.

Arnold Robbins is a professional programmer and semi-professional author. He has been doing volunteer work for the GNU project since 1987 and working with Unix and Unix-like systems since 1981.



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good, thanks for information

rainkan's picture

also recommend buying and reading the Texinfo manual from the FSF. It is well-written and thorough. You will need to do this anyway if you plan to write a large Texinfo file, as this article has just scratched the surface.
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Peter Schuballa's picture

To get slib2a6 working with scsh-0.4.2 (based on
Scheme48-0.36, I belive), I had to replace all the
"#(" lexemes with "(vector " and do some clean up
for cases where the vector was quoted.

This got SLIB working reasonably well.


Gioco's picture

Hi Peter what are you talking about? I don't understand a word.


Dante Rawlings's picture

In my department we have about 300 pages of notes for our freshman
courses typeset in Word with the equation editor. The layout is
really bad. I believe it should all be in TeX in the long term - many of
the equations are hard to read and inconsistently typeset (e.g. a\sin x
looks like roman "asinx", double quotes for second derivative; it
may have been poorly done in Word, though). Unfortunately our
secretary is only now starting to learn TeX.

1. Is there a Word-to-TeX conversion program?

2. What about all the included figures?

3. Should I just forget the whole thing?

It sounds like some people here have changed over from Word to Tex and
might have some ideas.


Great tool

Anonymous's picture

I use it for myself all the time.

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