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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Original author(s)Mainly Hans Hagen and Pragma ADE
Developer(s)Mainly Hans Hagen, Taco Hoekwater,[1] Aditya Mahajan, Mojca Miklavec, Wolfgang Schuster
Stable release
Mark IV 0.61 / May 24, 2015 (2015-05-24)[2][3][4]
Operating systemMultiplatform (TeX)
TypeDocument processor, Document markup language
LicenseProgram code under GPLv2 and Documentation under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0[5]

ConTeXt is a general-purpose document processor. Like LaTeX, it is derived from TeX. It is especially suited for structured documents, automated document production, very fine typography, and multilingual typesetting. It is based in part on the TeX typesetting system, and uses a document markup language for manuscript preparation. The typographical and automated capabilities of ConTeXt are extensive, including interfaces for handling microtypography, multiple footnotes and footnote classes, and manipulating OpenType fonts and features. Moreover, it offers extensive support for colors, backgrounds, hyperlinks, presentations, figure-text integration, and conditional compilation. It gives the user extensive control over formatting while making it easy to create new layouts and styles without learning the low-level TeX macro language.

While comparisons can be made between ConTeXt and LaTeX, the primary objectives of the two systems are distinct. From the onset, ConTeXt has been a typography and typesetting system designed to give users straightforward and consistent access to advanced typographical control, which is crucial for general-purpose typesetting. LaTeX's original vision, on the other hand, was to insulate the user from typographical decisions—an approach particularly useful for tasks such as submitting articles to a scientific journal. Although LaTeX has evolved from this original vision, ConTeXt's unified design prevents the package clashes often experienced with LaTeX.[6][7]

ConTeXt provides a multilingual user interface with support for markup in English, Dutch, German, French, and Italian and support for output in many scripts including western European, eastern European, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. It also allows the user to use different TeX engines like pdfTeX, XeTeX, and LuaTeX without changing the user interface.[7]

As its native drawing engine, ConTeXt integrates a superset of MetaPost called MetaFun,[7] which allows users to draw page backgrounds and ornaments with MetaPost. MetaFun can also be used directly with MetaPost. ConTeXt also supports the use of other external drawing engines, like PGF/TikZ[8] and PSTricks.[9]

ConTeXt also provides a macro package for typesetting chemical structure diagrams with TeX called PPCHTeX,[10] as well as many other modules.[9][11][12] This package can also be used with plain TeX and LaTeX.

Originally entitled pragmatex, ConTeXt was given its name around 1996[13] by Hans Hagen from PRAGMA Advanced Document Engineering (Pragma ADE), a Netherlands-based company.


ConTeXt is free software: the program code (i.e. anything not under the /doc subtree) is distributed under the GNU GPL; the documentation is provided under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license.[14]

The ConTeXt official manual(2001) and ConTeXt official mini tutorial (1999) are documents copyrighted by Pragma, but there is a repository of the future new manual[15] released under the GNU Free Documentation License.[16][17] As of April 2009 there is an up-to-date version of the fonts and typography chapters.[18]


The current version of ConTeXt is LMTX, introduced in April 2019 as the successor to Mark IV (MkIV).[19] Previous versions — Mark II (MkII) and Mark I — are no longer maintained.

According to the developers, the principal difference between LMTX and its predecessors is that the newest version "uses a compilation and scripting engine that is specifically developed with ConTeXt in mind: LuaMetaTeX ... [which] has been optimised heavily for ConTeXt use." Previously, MkIV used LuaTeX and MkII used pdfTeX.


ConTeXt was created by Hans Hagen[20] and Ton Otten of Pragma ADE in the Netherlands[21] around 1991[22][23] due to the need for educational typesetting material.

Around 1996, Hans Hagen coined the name ConTeXt meaning "text with tex" (con-tex-t; "con" is a Latin preposition meaning "together with").[20] Before 1996 ConTeXt was used only within Pragma ADE, but in 1996 it began to be adopted by a wider audience. The first users outside Pragma were Taco Hoekwater, Berend de Boer and Gilbert van den Dobbelsteen, and the first user outside the Netherlands was Tobias Burnus.[20]

In July 2004, contextgarden.net wiki page was created.[22][24]

ConTeXt low-level code was originally written in Dutch. Around 2005, the ConTeXt developers began translating this to English, resulting in the version known as MKII, which is now stable and frozen[citation needed].

In August 2007, Hans Hagen presented the MKIV version,[23][25] and the first public beta was released later that year.[26]

During the ConTeXt User Meeting 2008, Mojca Miklavec presented[27] ConTeXt Minimals, a distribution of ConTeXt containing the latest binaries and intended to have a small memory footprint, thus demanding less bandwidth for updates.[28] In August 2008, this distribution was registered as a project in launchpad web site.[29]

In June 2008, Patrick Gundlach wrote the first post[30] in ConTeXt blog.

In July 2009, ConTeXt started git repository.[31]

In November 2010, the ConTeXt Group was created.[32]

In April 2019, LMTX (ConTeXt LuaMetaTeX) was announced.[33]

Example of code[edit]

Making ConTeXt documents is simple: one makes a plain text file, and compiles it with the context script.[34] The result of this process is a PDF file (ConTeXt also can generate a DVI file). An example is shown below.

ConTeXt documents come with the file extension .tex or an extension demarking the version required: .mkii, .mkiv, or .mkxl for regular TeX, .mkvi or .mklx for a dialect that supports named macro parameters in addition to TeX’s numeric ones.[35]

% This line is a comment because % precedes it.
% It specifies the format of head named 'title'
% Specifically the style of the font: sans serif
% + bold + big font.

    after={John Doe, the author\smallskip%



\CONTEXT\ is a document preparation system for the 
\TEX\ typesetting program. It offers programmable 
desktop publishing features and extensive 
facilities for automating most aspects of 
typesetting and desktop publishing, including 
numbering and cross-referencing (for example to 
equation \in[eqn:famous-emc]), tables and figures, 
page layout, bibliographies, and much more.

It was originally written around 1990 by Hans 
Hagen. It could be an alternative or complement 
to \LATEX.

With \CONTEXT\ we could write maths. Equations 
can be automatically numbered.

    E = mc^2
    m = \frac{m_0}{\sqrt{1-\frac{v^2}{c^2}}}

ConTeXt document
ConTeXt document

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dave Walden interview with Taco Hoekwater. TeX User Group 2006.
  2. ^ "Release notes of ConTeXt at contextgarden". Archived from the original on 2005-12-26. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  3. ^ "List of releases of ConTeXt". Archived from the original on 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
  4. ^ "ConTeXt files in Supelec". Archived from the original on 2010-11-06. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  5. ^ Read Me (license of ConTeXt code and documentation)
  6. ^ "FAQ of the UK TeX Archive". Archived from the original on 2010-05-18. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
  7. ^ a b c "What is ConTeXt" page at contextgarden
  8. ^ PGF/TikZ official manual. Version 2.0 Archived January 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Section 9.1.3 "Using the ConTeXt Format". p. 88
  9. ^ a b List of ConTeXt modules at contextgarden
  10. ^ PPCHTeX Module for ConTeXt reference page at contextgarden
  11. ^ List of ConTeXt modules (static page)
  12. ^ List of ConTeXt modules in web server for downloading
  13. ^ Hans Hagen Interview, 2006
  14. ^ Hagen, Hans (2005-11-24). "Read Me". Retrieved 2010-07-13.
  15. ^ Repository of new reference manual Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ License notice of new official manual Archived February 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Part of thread about context manual where Taco Hoekwater recognises that new manual is licensed under the GFDL and he should put license note on the current directory of manual
  18. ^ Up-to-date chapters of manual: Fonts and Typography. April 2009.
  19. ^ "LMTX - Wiki". wiki.contextgarden.net. Retrieved 2020-08-30.
  20. ^ a b c Dave Walden interview Hans Hagen. TeX User Group 2006.
  21. ^ "Ask Nelly ..." PracTeX Journal. TeX User Group. 2005. Includes an example of ConTeXt document with source code.
  22. ^ a b Taco Hoekwater "A short History of $2^4$ parts". ConTeXt User Meeting 2007 (march 24)
  23. ^ a b Programme of the ConTeXt User Meeting 2007
  24. ^ "contextgarden 5th birthday on 24 July 2009". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  25. ^ Hans Hagen The Road to MKIV. ConTeXt User Meeting 2007.
  26. ^ MKIV at contextgarden
  27. ^ ConTeXt User Meeting 2008 web page
  28. ^ "ConTeXt Minimals web page". Archived from the original on 2018-11-16. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
  29. ^ ConTeXt at Launchpad.net
  30. ^ First ConTeXt blog post
  31. ^ "Post of announce of git repository". Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
  32. ^ Official announcement of ConTeXt Group registration
  33. ^ Announcement of lmtx
  34. ^ "TeXEXEC explained" manual. Pragma ADE.
  35. ^ Hagen, Hans (2020-02-04). "[NTG-context] Official file ending?". mailman.ntg.nl. Archived from the original on 2021-06-28. Retrieved 2020-02-12.

External links[edit]

Official pages[edit]

Manuals and tutorials[edit]

Comparison between ConTeXt and LaTeX[edit]

  • de Boer, Berend (2003), LaTeX in proper ConTeXt (PDF) (tutorial) for migration from LaTeX to ConTeXt.
  • Hoekwater, Taco (1998), "Comparing ConTeXt and LaTeX" (PDF), MAPS Journal: 280–85. Note: this text is quite old, and the legal information it contains is not relevant today, since ConTeXt is under GPLv2.
  • Hagen, Hans (2006), Interview of Hans Hagen. Interview of Hans Hagen including an insight into what motivated the creation of ConTeXt.
  • Mahajan, Sanjoy, "Typesetting math(s) with ConTeXt", ConTeXt User Meeting 2007 (PDF) (presentation slides).
  • "Functionality of core latex packages in ConTeXt", ConTeXt (wiki).
  • Mahajan, Aditya (June 2007), "Display math in ConTeXt: ConTeXt rehab for amsmath addicts", MyWay (PDF). Originally "Display Math in ConTEXt ConTEXt rehab for amsmath addicts" (PDF), MAPS Journal, 34: 22–34, 2006. Contains a comparison of ConTeXt math capabilities with various latex math features, overall math alignments (gather, split, etc.).