BookML: a bookdown flavoured GitBook port for LaTeXML

Vincenzo Mantova

18 May 2022


BookML is a small add-on for LaTeXML with a few accessibility features and quality of life improvements. Its purpose is to simplify the conversion of LaTeX documents into HTML files that conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 level AA.

The key features:

  • a port of the GitBook style of bookdown, tweaked for better WCAG conformance; this is enabled by default, but can be disabled;

  • styling fixes for LaTeXML (many backported from 0.8.6), such as mobile friendly responsive output;

  • transparent generation of SVG pictures via LaTeX for packages not well supported by LaTeXML, such as TikZ pictures, animations, Xy-matrices;

  • a simple method to add alternative text for images;

  • partial support for arbitrary HTML content;

  • direct embedding of MathJax, with the option of choosing between versions 2 and 3 or disabling it.

Sources available on GitHub.
Latest release Download stats Stargazers on GitHub

Formats: GitBook (html), plain with Computer Modern (html), PDF, EPUB, LaTeX source.

1 Getting started

  1. 1.

    Install the prerequisites:

    • Required: a working LaTeXML installation, at least version 0.8.5.

    • Optional (necessary for generating the images via LaTeX): a working TeX install containing dvisvgm, latexmk, preview.sty.

  2. 2.

    [Install/upgrade] Unpack the latest BookML release and put the bookml folder next to your .tex files.

  3. 3.

    [First install only] Copy the files bookml/XSLT/LaTeXML-*.xsl next to your .tex files.

  4. 4.

    Anywhere between \documentclass and \begin{document}, add \usepackage{bookml/bookml}. Alternatively, you can also add \RequirePackage{bookml/bookml} before \documentclass (for instance, if you want to use a different class when compiling with LaTeXML).

  5. 5.

    Compile your file to HTML:

    latexmlc --navigationtoc=context \
      --dest=my_latex_file/index.html \

    Add --splitat=section (or chapter, part…) to split the content on multiple pages. See the LaTeXML manual for all the options.

  6. 6.

    Compile your file to EPUB3 (experimental, requires patched LaTeXML 0.8.6):

    latexmlc --preload=’[style=plain]bookml/bookml \
      --dest=my_latex_file.epub \
      --splitat=section \

If you do not want to modify your .tex in step 4, add the option --preload=bookml/bookml when calling latexml or latexmlc.

You can also use bookml directly from source:

git clone
cd bookml && make

then copy the files bookml/XSLT/LaTeXML-*.xsl next to your .tex files.

2 Options

The bookml package accepts a few options (for instance use \usepackage[style=plain,nomathjax]{bookml/bookml} to disable the GitBook style and to avoid including MathJax). The options have no effect on the PDF output.

You can also pass these options at compilation time using the --preload option of latexml and latexmlc:

  latexmlc --preload=[style=plain,nomathjax]bookml/bookml \
    --dest=my_latex_file/index.html \

Use the GitBook style (the default behaviour). When using the GitBook style, you must call latexmlc (or latexmlpost) with the option --navigationtoc=context. Any PDF or EPUB file with the same name as the source will be detected and added to the download menu.


Use the LaTeXML style with a few slightly opinionated tweaks.


Use the LaTeXML style with no tweaks (except for backported styles and some fixes).


Do not include MathJax in the output.


Use MathJax version 2 instead of version 3.


Rescale the images generated via LaTeX (§ 4.5) by the desired factor. The scaling factor is adjusted internally based on the options 8pt, 9pt, …, 12pt being passed to the document class.

3 Customisation

3.1 CSS and fonts

Just create a bmluser folder and add any .css file to it. The files will be included at the end of the <head> tag and override the previous styles.

If the file name ends with .style1,style2.css, then that file will be used only when style=style1 or style=2 is passed. You can use ._all.css to ensure that the file is included in every style.

The plain version of this document has been compiled with an additional computer-modern.plain.css that sets the font to Computer Modern.

3.2 HTML output

You can modify LaTeXML-html5.xsl to change the HTML output. Just be careful not to overwrite the file during updates.

4 Commands

4.1 Conditional execution

Call \iflatexml ... \else ... \fi to write code that is executed only by LaTeXML, or only (pdf)LaTeX respectively. bookml will try to use the latexml package, if available, or use its own embedded copy. See Figure 1.

\caption{Example of
  from the \ltxinline|xypic| documentation.}
Figure 1: Example of \iflatexml, used in Figure 4 to work around a subtle difference between LaTeXML and LaTeX.

4.2 Alternative text for images

Call \bmlDescription{textual description} right after an image to populate its alt attribute (or aria-label if appropriate). Inspect the HTML source of Figure 3 or use a screen reader to check its text description.

4.3 Disable MathJax for some equations

Call \bmlDisableMathJax{} inside an equation to stop MathJax from processing the equation. Useful if you want to use MathJax, but you have equations that are better handled by the browser. When used inside an environment creating multiple equations, it applies only to the ones containing the command. See Figure 2.

  \int_0^{+\infty} x^2 \mathrm{d}x \quad \text{rendered by \href{}{MathJax}} \\
  \bmlDisableMathJax \int_0^{+\infty} x^2 \mathrm{d}x \quad \text{rendered by \emph{the browser}}
0+x2dxrendered by MathJax
0+x2dxrendered by the browser
Figure 2: How to disable MathJax for a single equation.

4.4 Add custom CSS classes

Call \bmlPlusClass{class} right after some piece of content to add a CSS class. If done within text, its effect may be unpredictable. Its main use is to call \bmlPlusClass{bml_no_invert} after an image to prevent the picture from getting inverted in night mode. Compare how Figure 3 (with bml_no_invert) and Figure 4 (no additional classes) change in night mode to see the difference.

Note that the package latexml also offers \lxAddClass and \lxWithClass for the same effect but different behaviour regarding which element gets the class.

4.5 Generate pictures with LaTeX

LaTeXML supports the picture environment as well as some TikZ pictures, but not all which will come out mangled, and some common packages are not supported altogether (for instance xypic, tikzcd, animate).

BookML offers a simple automated way of generating SVG images using LaTeX, bypassing LaTeXML entirely. In your preamble, after \usepackage{bookml/bookml}, write

% optional, but strongly recommended:
% do not load tikz when running in LaTeXML

All environments passed to \bmlImageEnvironment, in this case tikzpicture, tikzcd, animate, will be compiled with LaTeX using latexmk and converted to SVG images via dvisvgm. Note that in this example LaTeXML will not load TikZ at all. Figure 3 demonstrates this approach.

    \useasboundingbox (0,0) rectangle (5,3);},
\bmlDescription{A stylised rubber duck, yellow
  and wearing a black top hat, enters from the right
  and slides until it exits from the left. The animation
  repeats every six seconds.}
\bmlPlusClass{bml_no_invert} % preserve colours in night mode

A stylised rubber duck, yellow and wearing a black top hat, enters from the right and slides until it exits from the left. The animation repeats this every six seconds.

Figure 3: A fancy duck. Click on the play button to start the animation (for the PDF, it requires a compatible software such as Acrobat Reader).

If you only need this mechanism in a pinch, you can simply wrap the desired content between \begin{bmlimage} and \end{bmlimage} as exemplified in Figure 4.

\[ \begin{bmlimage}
    U \ar@/_/[ddr]_y \ar@/^/[drr]^x \ar@{.>}[dr]|-{(x,y)} \\
    & X \times_Z Y \ar[d]^q \ar[r]_p & X \ar[d]_f \\
    & Y \ar[r]^g & Z}
  \end{bmlimage} \]
Example of
Figure 4: Example of \xymatrix from the xypic documentation.

4.6 Direct HTML input

You can insert arbitrary HTML code using \bmlRawHTML{html code}.

Warning: the HTML code needs to be written in ‘XML syntax’, so you have to close all the tags (for instance, write <br/> instead of <br>, close the <p> tags, and so on) and empty attributes must be given the value "" (see this old W3C guide for some indications). Moreover, you must remember to escape your %&_^${}, and replace \ with \textbackslash.

\bmlRawHTML is robust, i.e. it does not change the category codes, so it can be used inside \newcommand to create custom macros. See for instance Figure 5 for a generic YouTube embedding macro. Note that the video will not be visible in the PDF, so a link should always be provided (possibly PDF only, as in the example).

  <div style="max-width: 1920px; width: 100\%">
    <div style="position: relative;
        padding-bottom: 56.25\%; height: 0; overflow: hidden;">
      <iframe width="1920" height="1080"
        title="YouTube: #2" allowfullscreen=""
        style="border:none; position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0;
          right: 0; bottom: 0; height: 100\%; max-width: 100\%;"
        allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write;
          encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture"/>
  Watch \href{}{#2}.
  {Group theory, abstraction, and the 196,883-dimensional monster}
Figure 5: Demonstration of \bmlRawHTML within \newcommand with a video from 3Blue1Brown.

4.7 Interspersing LaTeX and HTML (beta)

The command \bmlHTMLEnvironment{tag} defines an environment \begin{h:tag} ... \end{h:tag} which wraps the content between <tag> ... </tag>. One can also add attributes as optional arguments \begin{h:tag}[attr1=val1,attr2=val2]. You can specify multiple tags by separating them with commas, as in \bmlHTMLEnvironment{tag1,tag2}.

Use \bmlHTMLInlineEnvironment{tag} for tags that can only contain ‘phrasing’ content, for instance they should not contain <p> paragraphs.

Code for <details>. Completing the quine is left as an exercise for the reader.
\begin{h:details}[style={text-align: left; width: 100\%},open]
    \textbf{Code for \lstinline[language=html,frame=none]|<details>|.}
  Completing the quine is left as an exercise for the reader.
Figure 6: Implementation of the <details> tag.

4.8 …and everything from latexml.sty

By using \usepackage{bookml/bookml}, you will also import latexml.sty, making several LaTeXML-related commands available, for instance \lxBeginTableHead for marking table headers. Please read the source of latexml.sty to learn what is included.