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The Python document processor

Project description

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rinohtype is a batch-mode document processor. It renders structured documents to PDF based on a document template and a style sheet. An important design goal of rinohtype is make document layout and style customization user-friendly. See the documentation to learn how to customize the style of your document.

Call for Contributions

Since rinohtype is a fairly sizable project and currently being maintained by a single person, your contribution can make a big difference. Specifically, the following things can help move rinohtype forward:

  • development of professional-looking stylesheets and document templates
  • volunteering to be a maintainer: fix issues that pop up when new versions of dependencies are released (Python, Sphinx, …)
  • help with maintaining and improving the documentation
  • development of new features, e.g. widow/orphan handling, Knuth-Plass line breaking, mathematics typesetting, performance improvements, …
  • companies might be interested in funding the development of particular features

So if you are interested in helping with any of these items, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via, GitHub issues or Gitter!


rinohtype is still in beta, so you might run into some issues when using it. I’d highly appreciate it if you could create a ticket for any bugs you may encounter. That said, rinohtype is already quite capable. For example, it should be able to replace Sphinx’s LaTeX builder in most cases. Here is an overview of the main features:

  • a powerful page layout system supporting columns, running headers/footers, floatable elements and footnotes
  • support for figures and (large) tables
  • automatic generation of table of contents and index
  • automatic numbering and cross-referencing of section headings, figures and tables
  • configure 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, small capitals and old style figures
  • embeds PDF, PNG and JPEG images, preserving transparency and color profiles
  • easy to install and 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 makes it possible to output large documents with your own style applied. Have a look at the rinohtype manual for an example of the output.


rinohtype supports all stable Python 3 versions that have not reached end-of-life status. For parsing reStructuredText and CommonMark documents, rinohtype depends on docutils and recommonmark respectively. pip takes care of installing these requirements when you install rinohtype.

Syntax highlighting of code blocks is eneabled if Pygments is installed, which will be installed automatically with Sphinx. 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). Simply select the rinoh builder when building the Sphinx project:

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 and

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

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