The Tectonic Typesetting System

Tectonic is a modernized, complete, self-contained TeX/LaTeX engine, powered by XeTeX and TeXLive.

Install Tectonic 0.1.6
July 8, 2017

For those new to it, TeX is a programming language that you use to create typeset documents rather than computer software. TeX is quite archaic in some ways, but it’s still the tool of choice for documents that require precision typography or ones that involve lots of mathematical equations, which makes it especially important in the sciences. Tectonic converts TeX files into PDF files.

Tectonic is beta software but has been demonstrated to work well in a variety of real-world situations. Contributions in any form — documentation, bug reports, test cases, new features — are most welcome. The user forum is the place to start.

What’s in it for me?

user@host $ tectonic paper.tex
Running TeX ...
note: warnings were issued by the TeX engine; use --print and/or --keep-logs for details.
Running BibTeX ...
Rerunning TeX because bibtex was run ...
Rerunning TeX because "paper.aux" changed ...
Rerunning TeX because "paper.aux" changed ...
Running xdvipdfmx ...
Writing paper.pdf (383521 bytes)
Skipped writing 3 intermediate files (use --keep-intermediates to keep them)
user@host $

About the name

The name of the project is “Tectonic,” spelled and pronounced like a regular word because it is one. Enough with the cutesy obscurantism. In cases where the name might lead to ambiguities, it should be expanded to “Tectonic typesetting.”

If you’re feeling expansive, you can interpret the name as suggesting a large change in the TeX world. Or you can think of it as suggesting a salubrious offering for weary TeX users. Either way, the root of the word does go back to the ancient Greek τέκτων, ”carpenter,” which Donald Knuth — the creator of TeX and a devout Christian — might appreciate.


Tectonic would not have been possible without decades’ worth of hard work by the people behind LaTeX, TeXLive, XeTeX, and (x)dvipdfm-x. We stand on the shoulders of giants!

JFrog Bintray kindly hosts the large bundles of LaTeX resource files that enable Tectonic’s web-download capabilities.

Copyright and licensing

Tectonic is licensed under the MIT License. This is the license under which the codebase from which it is primarily derived, XeTeX, is distributed. Various other elements of the TeX system on which Tectonic is based are licensed under other open-source licenses.