The l2h help pages   © Leon van Dommelen 
The latest version of this document is online at or at

How to get started

WARNINGS: Please Read

There is no warranty of any kind on this free software.

There are copyrights by various authors.

To help avoid possible loss of your data, follow the next rules:

  1. Do not put files that have an "@" character in their name in your document folder. L2h assumes that it can do whatever it wants with such files.
  2. Similarly, leave the "@system" subfolder alone.
  3. In addition, file index.html may be modified during web page creation. (Though probably not if it is your own file.)
  4. Any file .latex2html-init will routinely get clobbered. For l2h, you should edit instead.
  5. If you need to put files in the "web-pages" folder, place them inside its subfolder "keep". Or they will in fact disappear.
  6. Do not delete files anywhere inside the l2h folder. If l2h sees that any file it may need to operate has disappeared, it will drop everything and abort.
You really should always keep backups of files you put in l2h folders.


If you are reading this, you probably already finished installation. Otherwise:

Note that whenever you move l2h elsewhere, (which you should avoid doing if possible), or your latex, ghostscript, or perl changes location in MS Windows, you must rerun install_l2h. Before doing so, exit all other l2h windows. (If you do move l2h, afterwards you will also need to update all document folders outside l2h that you are still working on. To update a document folder, replace the "l2h_menu" file in it by a copy of the updated one in the "example" folder of l2h.)

Quick-Start Guide

Note: This guide assumes that you are using l2h through a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to click files in folders and such. If you have no GUI, like when you are using "Putty" or "ssh" to access a remote computer, see nonGUI.html for how to compensate.

  1. Find the l2h folder, then the "example" subfolder in it. Create a copy of this example folder elsewhere. To do so, right-click "example" and select "copy" (not cut). Then right-click inside your Documents folder, or maybe simply on your desktop and select "Paste" (not "Paste Shortcut"). Now right-click the just pasted folder and select "Rename" (or maybe "Properties".) Change the folder name from "example" into "document_1", "my_thesis", or something else meaningful to you. Note that spaces in the name are OK as far as l2h is concerned. But other software may not like them, so I prefer underscores, lowercase letters, and digits only. For example, if you have both a folder "My_Thesis" and a folder "my_thesis" in Unix, disaster will strike when you add any Microsoft component to the mix. Trust me. From now on, I will assume that you renamed the copied folder to "document_1". If not, substitute your own name.
  2. Security warning: l2h will set protections to make the generated pdf and web-pages versions of the document readable to world. If this is not desired, be sure to place the copied example folder inside a folder that offers no access to world.
  3. Open folder document_1 by double-clicking it. Inside, there is an icon "l2h_menu". Double click it; a new window will open.
  4. Linux users only: The window is supposed to be big enough for 24 lines of 80 characters each. That is the standard for terminal windows. However, my Ubuntu 12.04 with gnome-session-fallback will not do so. I need to go into the "Terminal" menu and manually select 80x24. Afterwards I have to hit the "-" key to get the screen to respond again. Do not hit another key before hitting "-". It is also recommended that you enable the terminal bell. See the installation instructions.
  5. You will be asked to select an example document. Read the description and then press the key of the desired choice. However, at this time use choices 1 through 4, not 5 through 8. You want to test your installation first. The example will be copied into the document_1 folder with the name "index.tex". For more information on the examples, and to see how the resulting documents may look, see the examples.html web page.
  6. You will normally be given a choice of editors with which to open the selected example. If not, open file "index.tex", in the document_1 folder, with a text editor manually. Right-clicking the file should give some suitable option. If that does not work either, open a text editor like Notepad or gedit and browse down to the just created folder to find "index.tex". If all else fails, look at the index?.txt copies on the examples.html web page.
  7. Note: I recommend using a simple text editor if you are still learning LaTeX. A more fancy one like TeXstudio is probably just an additional big distraction at this point.
  8. Microsoft Windows users only: The "Notepad" editor is convenient to edit index.tex, since every Windows version has it. Also, you can go to a given line number in it. But be sure in the menus to deselect word-wrap. (I do not recommend Wordpad, because its various menu options do not work in LaTeX documents. That would be very confusing. And no, Microsoft Word will not work at all.)
  9. In the editor window, spend some time reading through all of the example index.tex. This will give you a good idea what LaTeX is all about. Do not worry too much about details right now. (Or if you insist, open the web page intro_to_latex in a second browser tab.)
  10. Now you want to try to create a pdf document, index.pdf, from index.tex. Go back to the l2h_menu (terminal) window. When it is active, press the "l" key. This will process index.tex using latex. (If you get no response, check the "Caps Lock" key: "L" instead of "l" will not work.) There should be no errors or major warnings. If an error or major warning does occur, see the trouble shooting web page.
  11. MiKTeX users only: When latex is run for the first time, MiKTeX will start fetching the needed packages from the web. At that time, processing may appear to freeze, especially if your firewall gets involved. Just give it some time. If things seem to stay frozen long, make sure that the firewall is not prompting you for permission.
  12. Next press the "p" key to make a pdf file, if it has not yet been made already. Open the created pdf file with the "P" key (or by double clicking index.pdf in the document_1 folder) and check that everything is OK. If not, see the trouble shooting web page.
  13. Now you want to try to process index.tex into web pages. Press the "2" key followed by the "w" key. Respond to the queries, normally by just hitting "Enter". After the web pages have been made, check them in your browser by using the "W" key. Or use your browser to open file "index.html" inside subfolder "web-pages" inside the document_1 folder. If there is a problem, see the trouble shooting web page.

For those who want to start processing their own already existing LaTeX document: Proceed with web page use_your_own now.

For those who write in Greek or a nonWestern European language: You will want to change to one of the examples 5 or 6 now. Exit your editor, (Notepad, gedit, or whatever), with index.tex first. Then double click the document_1 folder if it is not open already, and find and delete the document source "index.tex". Since your operating system may hide the ".tex" part from you, and there are many "index" files, you may want to go into the view menu to enable details. Or right-click the likely candidates and select "Properties". After you have found and deleted index.tex, press the "-" (hyphen) key in the l2h menu. L2h will see that index.tex has disappeared and offer you a choice of a new one. Select example 5 or 6. Use the "\" key in the l2h menu to re-enter your editor. Read through the brand-new section on "Internationalization". Use the "l" key to process the document and see if it still works. Note that in my experience, XeLaTeX may seem to freeze at some font initializations, but it comes back. Have a bit of patience while running "l" the first time. Afterwards, check the new pdf. Press "2" and "w" again to make web pages and check them. If there is a problem, see the trouble shooting web page.

Now go back to the editor window with the example source index.tex. Make a small change, like changing the author's name into your own. Save the file. To do so click on "File" in the top left corner and select "Save". Or there might be a save icon on the toolbar. Or press Ctrl+s (i.e. press "s" while holding down Ctrl.) Go to the l2h menu and press "l" again to process the change. Press "p" (if needed) and "P" to check that the name has indeed been changed. (If the pdf file is still open in Acrobat Reader, select "Reload" in the "File" menu to see the changes.)

Make another change. Until you get some experience, make changes one at a time, saving and pressing the "l" menu key after each one. That is to prevent you from potentially having to deal with more than one error at a time. And to make it easier to undo any step that creates a problem.

If there is an error in processing, try hitting the "h" key for help. See the intro_to_latex web page for more information (press the "H" key). Have fun learning LaTeX!

Additional notes:

 Index   Intro to LaTeX