PDF Integration

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Sphinx 1 not only capable of generating HTML, but it can also generate PDF. Instead of doing make html, we can run make latexpdf to generate pdf document. To generate PDF, Sphinx first converts reStructuredText to tex document then calls any one of tex engine (PdfTeX 2, XeTeX 3 or LuaTeX 4). You can configure any one of this engine through latex_engine config variable in Sphinx’s conf.py. If you don’t specify this variable, pdftex will be used by default.

Issue with PdfTeX

PdfTeX, the default TeX engine in Sphinx works great if you are sticking with ascii encoding. But, it fails to render unicode fonts properly. There are some workarounds to improve PdfTeX, but I find out that XeTeX by default supports unicode. So I decided to use XeTeX.

Dependencies for XeTeX

We have to make sure the following packages installed in order to use XeTeX in Ubuntu 5

$ sudo apt install texlive-xetex fonts-freefont-otf latexmk xindy

Switch Sphinx to use XeTeX

We have to instruct Sphinx to use XeTeX as the default latex engine in conf.py

latex_engine = 'xelatex'

Font Integration in XeTeX

In Linux, we use fontconfig 6 to utilize fonts of different type. But in XeTeX, we have to use fontspec 7 and explicitly mention which font to use. It can be done in Sphinx using fontpkg key in latex_elements dictionary in conf.py

latex_elements = {
    'fontpkg': r'''
\setmainfont{FreeSerif}[
    Path = /usr/share/fonts/opentype/freefont/,
    BoldFont = *Bold,
    ItalicFont = *Italic
]
\setsansfont{FreeSans}[
    Path = /usr/share/fonts/opentype/freefont/,
    BoldFont = *Bold,
    ItalicFont = *Oblique
]
\setmonofont{FreeMono}[
    Path = /usr/share/fonts/opentype/freefont/,
    BoldFont = *Bold,
    ItalicFont = *Oblique
]

The generated PDF document is available in the sidebar

To be continued..


1

https://http://sphinx-doc.org/

2

https://www.tug.org/applications/pdftex/

3

https://www.tug.org/xetex/

4

http://www.luatex.org/

5

https://ubuntu.com/

6

https://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/fontconfig/

7

https://github.com/wspr/fontspec/