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The Python document processor

Project description

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Re-branded as rinohtype-reloaded. As soon as upstream accepts pending pull requests, this repository might be archived. Re-branded PyPI versions will however stay forever.

Rinohtype is a document processor in the style of LaTeX. It renders structured documents to PDF based on a document template and a style sheet. An important goal of rinohtype is to be more user-friendly than LaTeX. This includes providing clear error messages and making it very easy to adjust the document style. See the documentation to learn how to customize the style of your document.

Rinohtype is currently in a beta phase and thus not recommended for production use, but you can use it to explore rinohtype’s features and bugs. I’d highly appreciate it if you could create a ticket for any bugs you may encounter. However, rinohtype is already very capable. Here is a list of its main features:

  • a powerful page layout system supporting columns, running headers/footers, floatable elements and footnotes
  • support for figures, and (large) tables
  • automatically generated table of contents and index
  • automatic numbering and cross-referencing of section headings, figures and tables
  • use one of the included document templates or create your own
  • an intuitive style sheet system inspired by CSS
  • modular design allowing for multiple frontends (such as reStructuredText, Markdown, DocBook, …)
  • handles OpenType, TrueType and Type1 fonts with support for advanced typographic features such as kerning, ligatures and small capitals
  • embeds PDF, PNG and JPEG images, preserving transparency and color profiles
  • easy to deploy; pure-Python with few dependencies
  • built on Unicode; ready for non-latin languages

Rinohtype’s primary input format is reStructuredText. The rinoh command line tool renders reStructuredText documents and the included Sphinx builder obsoletes the need for a large LaTeX installation to produce PDF output. Have a look at the rinohtype documentation for an example of the output.

Please, be warned that some older versions of PDF readers have trouble displaying the PDFs generated by rinohtype (issue 2):

  • pre-37.0 Firefox’s built-in PDF viewer (pdf.js)
  • pre-0.41 poppler-based applications such as Evince


rinohtype supports Python 3.4 and up. For parsing reStructuredText and CommonMark documents, rinohtype depends on docutils and recommonmark respectively. pip takes care of these requirements when you install rinohtype. If you want to include images other than PDF, PNG or JPEG, you also need to install Pillow.

Getting Started

Installation is trivial:

pip install rinohtype

reStructuredText Renderer

The easiest way to get started with rinohtype is to render a reStructuredText document (such as CHANGES.rst from this repository) using the rinoh command line tool:

rinoh CHANGES.rst

When rinoh finishes, you will find CHANGES.pdf alongside the input file.

By default rinoh renders the input document using the article template. Run rinoh --help to see how you can tell rinoh which document template and style sheet to use.

Sphinx Builder

Rinohtype can be used as a drop-in replacement for the LaTeX builder (the latex_documents configuration variable has to be set). You only need to add 'rinoh.frontend.sphinx' to the extensions list in With this in place, you can select the rinoh builder when building the documentation:

sphinx-build -b rinoh . _build/rinoh




All of rinohtype’s source code is licensed under the Affero GPL 3.0, unless indicated otherwise in the source file (such as

The Affero GPL requires for software that builds on rinohtype to also be released as open source under the same license. For building closed-source applications, you can obtain a commercial license. The author of rinohtype is also available for consultancy projects involving rinohtype.

Release History

Release 0.3.3 (2019-09-10)


  • Just a strange bug fixed to make it working while building Python docs.
  • Re-branded as rinohtype-reloaded.


New Features:

  • automatically generated lists of figures and tables
  • paragraphs now provide default tab stops (proportional to font size) for indentation
  • it is now possible to specify selector priority (+-) in style sheets
  • Sphinx frontend: the rinoh builder can be discovered by entry point (no more need to add ‘rinoh.frontend.sphinx’ to the list of extensions)
  • rinoh: set a return code of 1 when one or more referenced images could not be found (issue #104)
  • rinoh: introduce the –install-resources option to control the automatic installation of resources from PyPI
  • German locale (contributed by Michael Kaiser)
  • Polish locale (contributed by Mariusz Jamro)


  • Python 3.3 is no longer supported since it has reached end-of-life
  • remove the dependency on purepng by embedding its
  • limit the width of images to the available width by default
  • XML frontend: special case mixed content nodes


  • Border width is also taken into account for flowables that are continued on a new page (#127)
  • Sphinx: handle case when source_suffix is a list (PR #110 by Nick Barrett)
  • incompatibility with Sphinx 1.6.1+ (latex_paper_size)
  • docutils: crash when a footnote is defined in an admonition (issue #95)
  • docutils: crash on encountering a raw text role (issue #99)
  • docutils: ‘decoration’ node (header/footer) is not yet supported (issue #112)
  • crash when a table cell contains (only) an image
  • colours of PNG images with gamma (gAMA chunk) set are incorrect (#102)
  • Sphinx: image paths with wildcard extension are not supported (#119)

Release 0.3.1 (2016-12-19)

New Features:

  • rinoh is now also available as a stand-alone application for both Windows (installer) and macOS (app); they include an embedded CPython installation
  • index terms can be StyledText now (in addition to str)
  • the ‘document author’ metadata entry can now be displayed using a Field
  • Sphinx frontend: support the ‘desc_signature_line’ node (new in Sphinx 1.5)
  • rinoh –docs: open the online documentation in the default browser


  • more closely mimic the Sphinx LaTeX builder’s title page (issue #60)
  • there is no default for PageTemplate.chapter_title_flowables anymore since they are specific to the document template


  • handle StyledText metadata (such as document title)
  • Sphinx frontend: support the ‘autosummary_toc’ node
  • DummyFlowable now sticks to the flowable following it (keep_with_next), so that (1) it does not break this behavior of Heading preceding it, and (2) IndexTargets do not get separated from the following flowable
  • bug in LabeledFlowable that broke keep_with_next behavior
  • the descender size of the last flowable in a GroupedFlowables with keep_with_next=True was getting lost
  • GroupedFlowables should not mark the page non-empty; this caused empty pages before the first chapter if it is preceded by grouped DummyFlowables

Release 0.3.0 (2016-11-23)

New Features:

  • support localization of standard document strings (en, fr, it, nl) (#53)
  • localized strings can be overridden in the document template configuration
  • make use of a fallback typeface when a glyph is not available (#55) (the ‘fallback’ style in the Sphinx stylesheet sets the fallback typeface)
  • template configuration (INI) files: specify which document parts to include, configure document part and page templates, customize localized strings, …
  • support specifying more complex selectors directly in a style sheet file
  • (figure and table) captions support hierarchical numbering (see CaptionStyle)
  • make the frontends independent of the current working directory
  • reStructuredText: support the table :widths: option (upcoming docutils 0.13)
  • Sphinx frontend: provide styles for Sphinx’s inline markup roles
  • rinoh (command line renderer):
    • support template configuration files
    • support file formats for which a frontend is installed (see –list-formats)
    • accept options to configure the frontend (see –list-options)
    • option to list the installed fonts (on the command line or in a PDF file)
  • show the current page number as part of the rendering progress indicator
  • Book template: support for setting a cover page
  • frontends: raise a more descriptive exception when a document tree node is not mapped
  • validate the default value passed to an Attribute
  • preliminary support for writing a style sheet to an INI file, listing default values for non-specified attributes (#23)


  • rinoh: the output PDF is now placed in the current directory, not in the same directory as the input file
  • Sphinx builder configuration: replace the rinoh_document_template and rinoh_template_configuration options with rinoh_template
  • if no base is given for a style, style attribute lookup proceeds to look in the style of the same name in the base style sheet (#66)
  • DEFAULT_STYLE can be used as a base style to prevent style attribute lookup in the style of the same name in the base style sheet
  • rename FieldList to DefinitionList and use it to replace uses (docutils and Sphinx frontends) of the old DefinitionList (#54)
  • the new DefinitionList (FieldList) can be styled like the old DefinitionList by setting max_label_width to None, 0 or a 0-valued Dimension
  • figures are now non-floating by default (float placement needs more work)
  • hide the index chapter when there are no index entries (#51)
  • style sheets: use the default matcher if none is specified
  • Sphinx style sheet: copy the admonition style from the Sphinx LaTeX builder
  • Sphinx style sheet: keep the admonition title together with the body
  • Sphinx style sheet: color linked references as in the LaTeX output (#62)
  • Sphinx style sheet: disable hyphenation/ligatures for literal strong text
  • no more DocumentSection; a document now consists of parts (containing pages)
  • template configuration:
    • refer to document part templates by name so that they can be replaced
    • the list of document parts can be changed in the template configuration
    • document parts take the ‘end_at_page’ option (left, right, or any)
    • find (left/right) page templates via the document part name they belong to
    • fall back to <doc_part>_page when the right or left template is not found
    • each template configuration requires a name
  • DocumentTree: make the source_file argument optional
  • don’t abort when the document section hierarchy is missing levels (#67)
  • use the PDF backend by default (no need to specify it)
  • store the unit with Dimension instances (better printing)
  • rename the float module to image


  • improve compatibility with Windows: Windows path names and file encoding
  • crash if a StyledText is passed to HeadingStyle.number_separator
  • GroupedLabeledFlowables label width could be unnecessarily wide
  • fix and improve automatic table column sizing
  • Figures can now be referenced using the ‘reference’ format (“Figure 1.2”)
  • HorizontallyAlignedFlowable: make more robust
  • make document elements referenceable by secondary IDs
  • reStructuredText: only the first classifier for a definition term was shown
  • Sphinx frontend: support the ‘centered’ directive
  • Sphinx frontend: basic support for the ‘hlist’ directive
  • Sphinx frontend: handle :abbr: without explanation
  • Sphinx frontend: support nested inline nodes (guilabel & samp roles)
  • PDF backend: fix writing of Type 1 fonts from a parsed PDF file
  • PDF reader: handle multi-page PDFs (#71)
  • PDF reader: fix parsing of XRef streams
  • PDF reader: fix writing of parsed files

Release 0.2.1 (2016-08-18)

New Features:

  • optionally limit the width of large images and make use of this to simulate the Sphinx LaTeX builder behavior (#46)
  • reStructuredText/Sphinx: support for images with hyperlinks (#49)
  • record the styled page numbers in the PDF as page labels (#41)
  • unsupported Python versions: prevent installation where possible (sdist) or exit on import (wheel)
  • support Python 3.6


  • make StyleSheet objects picklable so the Sphinx builder’s rinoh_stylesheet option can actually be used
  • Fix #47: ClassNotFound exception in Literal_Block.lexer_getter()
  • Fix #45: Images that don’t fit are still placed on the page
  • don’t warn about duplicate style matches that resolve to the same style

Release 0.2.0 (2016-08-10)


  • generate a style log (show matching styles) to help style sheet development
  • keep_with_next style attribute: prevent splitting two flowables across pages
  • stylesheets can be loaded from files in INI format
  • check the type of attributes passed to styles
  • source code highlighting using Pygments
  • table of contents entries can be styled more freely
  • allow hiding the section numbers of table of contents entries
  • allow for custom chapter titles
  • selectors can now also select based on document part/section
  • various small tweaks to selectors and matchers
  • various fixes relating to style sheets


  • configurable standard document templates: article and book
  • a proper infrastructure for creating custom document templates
  • support for left/right page templates
  • make the Article template more configurable
  • pages now have background, content and header/footer layers
  • support for generating an index
  • make certain strings configurable (for localization, for example)


  • Sphinx: interpret the LaTeX configuration variables if the corresponding rinohtype variable is not set
  • Sphinx: roughly match the LaTeX output (document template and style sheet)
  • added a CommonMark frontend based on recommonmark
  • added basic ePUB and DocBook frontends
  • XML frontends: fix whitespace handling
  • frontends now return generators yielding flowables (more flexible)

Command-line Renderer (rinoh):

  • allow specifying a template and style sheet
  • automatically install typefaces used in the style sheet from PyPI


  • typefaces are discovered/loaded by entry point
  • more complete support for OpenType fonts
  • fix support for the 14 base Type 1 fonts


  • more versatile image sizing: absolute width/height & scaling
  • allow specifying the baseline for inline images
  • several fixes in the JPEG reader


  • reorganize the Container class hierarchy
  • fixes in footnote handling
  • drop Python 3.2 support (3.3, 3.4 and 3.5 are supported)

Release 0.1.3 (2015-08-04)

  • recover from the slow rendering speed caused by a bugfix in 0.1.2 (thanks to optimized element matching in the style sheets)
  • other improvements and bugfixes related to style sheets

Release 0.1.2 (2015-07-31)

  • much improved Sphinx support (we can now render the Sphinx documentation)
  • more complete support for reStructuredText (docutils) elements
  • various fixes related to footnote placement
  • page break option when starting a new section
  • fixes in handling of document sections and parts
  • improvements to section/figure/table references
  • native support for PNG and JPEG images (drops PIL/Pillow requirement, but adds PurePNG 0.1.1 requirement)
  • new ‘sphinx’ stylesheet used by the Sphinx builder (~ Sphinx LaTeX style)
  • restores Python 3.2 compatibility

Release 0.1.1 (2015-04-12)

First preview release

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