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Getting LaTeX

LaTeX is free software under the terms of the LaTeX Project Public License (LPPL). LaTeX is distributed through CTAN servers or comes as part of many easily installable and usable TeX distributions provided by the TeX User Group (TUG) or third parties. If you run into trouble, visit the help section.

LaTeX is not a stand-alone typesetting program in itself, but document preparation software that runs on top of Donald E. Knuth's TeX typesetting system. TeX distributions usually bundle together all the parts needed for a working TeX system and they generally add to this both configuration and maintenance utilities. Nowadays LaTeX, and many of the packages built on it, form an important component of any major TeX distribution.

The LaTeX team cannot guarantee that TeX distributions, even recent ones, contain the most recent version of LaTeX. It may happen that you need a more recent LaTeX than the one that your favourite TeX distribution carries, e.g., in order to get a particular bug fix. In that case you will need to fetch LaTeX from CTAN and install it on top of your distribution. See below for details.

TeX Distributions

If you’re new to TeX and LaTeX or just want an easy installation, get a full TeX distribution. The TeX Users Group (TUG) has a list of notable distributions that are entirely, or least primarily, free software, i.e., there are no charges for download or use.

Several distributions, in particular MacTeX, TeX Live and MiKTeX provide update mechanism through which you can manually or automatically receive updates from CTAN.


Check your Linux distributions software source for a TeX distribution including LaTeX. You can also install the current TeX Live distribution directly---in fact this may be advisable as many Linux distributions only contain older versions of TeX Live, see Linux TeX Live package status for details.

These are free distributions, i.e., there are no charges for download or use.

Mac OS

The MacTeX distribution contains everything you need, including a complete TeX system with LaTeX itself and editors to write documents.

This is a free distribution, i.e., there are no charges for download or use.


Check out the MiKTeX or TeX Live distributions; they contain a complete TeX system with LaTeX itself and editors to write documents.

These are free distributions, i.e., there are no charges for download or use.


LaTeX online services like Overleaf, Papeeria, LaTeX base or CoCalc offer the ability to edit, view and download LaTeX files and resulting PDFs.

Most are commercial services, but several of them, though not all, offer free plans with some restrictions.


You can obtain LaTeX from CTAN, which is the primary source of distribution for LaTeX. In order for your downloaded LaTeX to be of any use, you have to obtain and set up a TeX system first. You can either install a TeX distribution (see above) or get a TeX system from CTAN. If you use a TeX distribution then it will include a version of LaTeX so this will probably make things easier for you; but you may have a reason not to do this.

The LaTeX Git Repository

These days the LaTeX development sources are kept in a GitHub repository (previously we used SVN).

Note: The repository is not meant to be used as an install source for users who just want to set up a LaTeX system for processing their documents. It is rather complicated to produce a running version starting from these sources, which is why we provide the CTAN version (which is still not trivial to use directly) and why from that CTAN version a ready to use version finds its way into all major distributions within a few days. So please use the TeX distributions (or the CTAN version) instead of the Git repository. The repository is of use only to the few people that are interested in kernel development or help the LaTeX Project team in that development.

Having said that, anyone can access it and download the files, but submission is restricted to team members. The repository is located at and from that browser page you may explore the files, clone the repository or download the files in a .zip archive (roughly 25Mb) by using the appropriate buttons.

If you are familiar with Git you can also clone the repository using the command line or your favorite Git frontend tool, e.g.,

git clone

which needs about 50Mb of space. Alternatively, you can do a Subversion checkout from the command line, e.g.,

svn co

which will just checkout the current files. But be aware that a SVN checkout of the form

svn co

will download all files including their history (back to 2009) and amounts to roughly 1.4Gb so that is quite large.

Note: If you had bookmarked the old SVN repository please update that bookmark to the new GIT repository as we have finally removed it.

A note on Git pull requests

Git repositories support distributed development and allow people to provide change sets that are made available through so called pull requests, so that the maintainers of a program can “pull the suggested changes” into the main repository.

While we appreciate contributions, we think that for the core LaTeX software pull requests are usually not a good approach (unless the change has be already discussed and agreed upon). The stability of LaTeX is very important and this means that changes to the kernel are necessarily very conservative. It also means that a lot of discussion has to happen before any changes are made. So if you do decide to post a pull request, please bear this in mind: we do appreciate ideas, but cannot always integrate them into the kernel and it is quite likely that we reject updates made in this way.

If you want to discuss a possible contribution before (or instead of) making a pull request, we suggest you raise the topic first by dropping a line to the team.

Historic LaTeX

Ulrik Vieth has collected historic versions of LaTeX from LaTeX 2.0 for TeX 1.0 (released on 11 December 1983) onwards. You can find them at There might even be some earlier versions. All files have been pulled from the SAILDART archive site at (no longer online) which was based on archive tapes from SAIL at Stanford.

More historic material can be found at (you may not be able to open this in all browsers — alternatively try