What is ConTeXt?Edit

ConTeXt is a sophisticated document preparation system similar to LaTeX. Like LaTeX, it uses the TeX programming language with TeX typesetting engines to produce documents. The difference between the two is that ConTeXt has its own clean and consistent markup language for both defining the document structure, but also for adjusting the layout and typography precisely.

ConTeXt can produce documents with pdfTeX, XeTeX or LuaTeX.

The latest version, ConTeXt MKIV has solved many of the restrictions of the earlier version MKII. It also supports Unicode by default and a lot of other modern features, such as enabling you to write Lua code in your documents to produce complex results easily. This tutorial focuses solely on MKIV.


The easiest way of installing ConTeXt is to use the minimals distribution. Another alternative is to use the ConTeXt provided in the TeXLive distribution. Below we describe the instructions for installing the minimals distribution.

Linux and Mac OSEdit

Steps to install ConTeXt:

  1. Create a directory for ConTeXt, for example /home/user/context and change to it
  2. Download ConTeXt minimals installer: wget
  3. To download the latest ConTeXt MKIV, run:
 sh ./

Every time you want to use context, you first need to tell bash where to find it. This is done by running:

  • source /home/user/context/tex/setuptex if you are using bash
  • source /installation-dir/tex/setuptex.csh if you are using (t)csh

You can put the line for example in your ~/.bashrc.


ConTeXt has a good selection of third party modules for different purposes. You can install them by:

 ./ --modules=all


You can install all things in the ConTeXt minimal distribution with: --context=beta --fonts=all --modules=all --goodies=all

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