pdftex.cfg — configuration Settings for pdfTeX


pdfTeX configurations settings are read from the file pdftex.cfg when a format file is being created by pdfTeX.


Do not edit this file directly. Run initexmf --edit-config-file pdftex.cfg to edit configuration settings for pdfTeX.


This section is “borrowed” from the pdfTeX manual.

A typical pdftex.cfg file looks like this, setting up output for A4 paper size and the standard TeX offset of 1 inch:

compress_level 9
decimal_digits 3
horigin 1 true in
vorigin 1 true in
image_resolution 300
move_chars 1
output_format 1
page_width 210 true mm
page_height 297 true mm
pdf_minorversion 4
pk_resolution 600

The configuration file sets default values for these parameters, and they all can be overridden in the TeX source file. Dimensions can be specified as true, which makes them immune for magnification (when set).


This integer parameter specifies the level of text and in||line graphics compression. pdfTeX uses Zip compression. A value of 0 means no compression, 1 means fastest, 9 means best, 2..8 means something in between. Just set this value to 9, unless there is a good reason to do otherwise; 0 is great for testing macros that use \pdfliteral.


This integer specifies the preciseness of real numbers in PDF page descriptions. It gives the maximal number of decimal digits after the decimal point of real numbers. Valid values are in range 0..5. A higher value means more precise output, but also results in a much larger file size and more time to display or print. In most cases the optimal value is 2. This parameter does not influence the precision of numbers used in raw PDF code, like that used in \pdfliteral and annotation action specifications.

horigin & vorigin

These dimension parameters can be used to set the offset of the TeX output box from the top left corner of the “paper”.


When pdfTeX is not able to determine the natural dimensions of an image, it assumes a resolution of type 72 dots per inch. Use this variable to change this default value.


Although PDF output is claimed to be portable, especially when all font information is included in the file, problems with printing and viewing have a persistent nature. Moving the characters in range 0–31 sometimes helps a lot. When set to 1, characters are only moved when a font has less than 128 glyphs, when set to 2 higher slots are used too.


This integer parameter specifies whether the output format should be DVI or PDF. A positive value means PDF output, otherwise we get DVI output.

page_width & page_height

These two dimension parameters specify the output medium dimensions (the paper, screen or whatever the page is put on). If they are not specified, these values are calculated.


Sets the PDF version of the generated file and the latest allowed PDF version of included PDFs. The value 3 tells pdfTeX to set the PDF version to 1.3 and allows only included PDFs with versions less than 1.3. A suitable default value is 4.


One can use this entry to specify the resolution for bitmap fonts. Nowadays most printers are capable to print at least 600 dots per inch, so this is a reasonable default.