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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  HIGHLIGHT (1)


Highlight - a universal sourcecode to formatted text converter


General options
Output formatting options
See Also


highlight [OPTIONS]... [FILES]...


Highlight converts sourcecode to HTML, XHTML, RTF, ODT, LaTeX, TeX, BBCode, Pango markup, SVG, XTERM or ANSI escape sequences. There are several colour themes available. Highlight recognizes keywords, numbers, strings, comments, symbols and preprocessor directives. It supports about 180 programming languages, which are defined in Lua scripts.

It’s easily possible to enhance highlight’s database of programming languages and colour themes. See the README file for details.

General options

-B, --batch-recursive=<wildcard> convert all files matching the wildcard (uses recursive search)
-D, --data-dir=<path> set path to highlight data directory (deprecated)
--config-file=<file> set path to a lang or theme file
-h, --help print this help
-i, --input=<file> name of input file
-o, --output=<file> name of output file
-d, --outdir=<output directory> name of output directory
-P, --progress print progress bar in batch mode
-S, --syntax=<type> set type of source code, necessary if input file suffix is missing
-v, --verbose print debug info to stderr
-q, --quiet supress progress info in batch mode
--force generate output if input syntax is unknown
--list-scripts=<type> list installed scripts <type> = [langs, themes, plugins]
--plug-in=<script> execute Lua plug-in script; repeat option to apply multiple plug-ins
--plug-in-param set plug-in input parameter. This might be an input file name (ie. ’tags’).
--print-config print path configuration
--print-style print stylesheet only (see --style-outfile)
--skip=<list> ignore listed unknown file types (Example: --skip=’bak;c~;h~’)
--start-nested=<lang> define nested language which starts input without opening delimiter
--validate-input test if input is a valid text file
--version print version and copyright info

Output formatting options

-O, --out-format=<format> output file in given format <format>=[html, xhtml, latex, tex, rtf, odt, ansi, xterm256, bbcode, pango, svg]
-c, --style-outfile=<file> name of style definition file or output to stdout, if "stdout" is given as file argument
-T, --doc-title document title
-e, --style-infile=<file> name of file to be included in style-outfile
-f, --fragment omit header and footer of the output document (see --keep-injections)
-F, --reformat=<style> reformat output in given style. <style>=[allman, banner, gnu, java, kr, linux, stroustrup, whitesmith, google, pico, lisp, vtk]
-I, --include-style include style definition in output
-J, --line-length=<num> line length before wrapping (see -V, -W)
-j, --line-number-length=<num> line number length incl. left padding. Default length: 5
-k, --font=<font> set font (specific to output format)
-K, --font-size=<num?> set font size (specific to output format)
-l, --line-numbers print line numbers in output file
-m, --line-number-start=<cnt> start line numbering with cnt (assumes -l)
-s, --style=<style name> set highlighting style (theme)
-t --replace-tabs=<num> replace tabs by num spaces
-u, --encoding=<enc> set output encoding which matches input file encoding; omit encoding information if set to "NONE"
-V, --wrap-simple wrap lines after 80 (default) characters without indenting function parameters and statements.
-W, --wrap wrap lines after 80 (default) characters (use with caution).
-z, --zeroes fill leading space of line numbers with zeroes
--delim-cr set CR as end-of-line delimiter (MacOS 9)
--keep-injections output plug-in header and footer injections in spite of -f
--kw-case=<upper|lower|capitalize> output all keywords in given case if language is not case sensitive
--no-trailing-nl omit trailing newline
--wrap-no-numbers omit line numbers of wrapped lines (assumes -l)


-a, --anchors attach anchors to line numbers (HTML only)
-y, --anchor-prefix=<str> set anchor name prefix
-N, --anchor-filename use input file name as anchor name
-C, --print-index print index file with links to all output files
-n, --ordered-list print lines as ordered list items
--class-name=<str> set CSS class name prefix; omit class name if set to "NONE"
--inline-css output CSS within each tag (verbose output)
--enclose-pre enclose fragmented output with pre tag (assumes -f)


-b, --babel disable Babel package shorthands
-r, --replace-quotes replace double quotes by \dq
--pretty-symbols improve appearance of brackets and other symbols


--page-color include page color attributes
-x, --page-size=<size> set page size, <size>=[a3, a4, a5, b4, b5, b6, letter]
--char-styles include character stylesheets


--height=<h> set image height (units allowed)
--width=<w> set image size (see --height)


--doc create stand alone document
--no-doc cancel the --doc option
--css=filename the external style sheet filename
--src-lang=STRING source language
-t, --tab=INT specify tab length
-n, --line-number[=0] number all output lines, optional padding
--line-number-ref[=p] number all output lines and generate an anchor, made of the specified prefix
p + the line number (default=’line’)
--output-dir=path output directory
--failsafe if no language definition is found for the input, it is simply copied to the output

If no in- or output files are specified, stdin and stdout will be used for in- or output. HTML will be generated unless an other output format is given. Style definitions are stored in highlight.css (HTML, XHTML, SVG) or highlight.sty (LaTeX, TeX) if neither -c nor -I is given. Reformatting code (-F) will only work with C, C++, C# and Java input files.


The wrapping options might cause faulty highlighting of long single line comments.


The configuration files are stored in /usr/share/highlight/. Language definitions, themes and plugins are located in subdirectories.

Documentation files are stored in /usr/share/doc/highlight/ , configuration files in /etc/highlight/.

See README how to install own scripts in the home directory.


Single file conversion:

highlight -o hello.html -i hello.c

highlight -o hello.html hello.c

highlight -o hello.html -S c < hello.c

highlight -S c < hello.c > hello.html

Note that a file highlight.css is created in the current directory.

Batch file processing:

highlight --out-format=xhtml -B ’*.cpp’ -d /home/you/html_code/

converts all *.cpp files in the current directory and its subdirectories to xhtml files, and stores the output in /home/you/html_code.

highlight --out-format=latex * -d /home/you/latex_code/

converts all files to LaTeX, stored in /home/you/latex_code/.

Use --quiet to improve performance of batch file processing (recommended for usage in shell scripts).

Use highlight --out-format=xterm256 <yourfile> | less -R to display a source file in a terminal.


Andre Simon <>


README file and highlight webpage at
Search for    or go to Top of page |  Section 1 |  Main Index

Andre Simon HIGHLIGHT (1) 2016-02-15

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