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Highlight - a universal sourcecode to formatted text converter

highlight [OPTIONS]... [FILES]...

Highlight converts sourcecode to HTML, XHTML, RTF, ODT, LaTeX, TeX, BBCode, Pango markup, SVG, XTERM or ANSI escape sequences. There are several colour themes available. Highlight recognizes keywords, numbers, strings, comments, symbols and preprocessor directives. It supports about 180 programming languages, which are defined in Lua scripts.

It's easily possible to enhance highlight's database of programming languages and colour themes. See the README file for details.

convert all files matching the wildcard (uses recursive search)
set path to highlight data directory
set path to a lang or theme file
print this help
name of input file
name of output file
name of output directory
print progress bar in batch mode
set type of source code, necessary if input file suffix is missing
print debug info to stderr
supress progress info in batch mode
generate output if input syntax is unknown
list installed scripts <type> = [langs, themes, plugins]
execute Lua plug-in script; repeat option to apply multiple plug-ins
set plug-in input parameter. This might be an input file name (ie. 'tags').
print path configuration
print stylesheet only (see --style-outfile)
ignore listed unknown file types (Example: --skip='bak;c~;h~')
define nested language which starts input without opening delimiter
output to stdout (batch mode, --print-style)
test if input is a valid text file
print version and copyright info

output file in given format <format>=[html, xhtml, latex, tex, rtf, odt, ansi, xterm256, truecolor, bbcode, pango, svg]
name of style definition file
document title
name of file to be included in style-outfile
omit header and footer of the output document (see --keep-injections)
reformat output in given style. <style>=[allman, banner, gnu, java, kr, linux, stroustrup, whitesmith, google, pico, lisp, vtk]
include style definition in output
line length before wrapping (see -V, -W)
line number length incl. left padding. Default length: 5
set font (specific to output format)
set font size (specific to output format)
print line numbers in output file
start line numbering with cnt (assumes -l)
set highlighting style (theme)
replace tabs by num spaces
set output encoding which matches input file encoding; omit encoding information if set to "NONE"
wrap lines after 80 (default) characters without indenting function parameters and statements.
wrap lines after 80 (default) characters (use with caution).
fill leading space of line numbers with zeroes
set CR as end-of-line delimiter (MacOS 9)
output plug-in header and footer injections in spite of -f
output all keywords in given case if language is not case sensitive
omit trailing newline
omit version info comment
omit line numbers of wrapped lines (assumes -l)

attach anchors to line numbers (HTML only)
set anchor name prefix
use input file name as anchor name
print index file with links to all output files
print lines as ordered list items
set CSS class name prefix; omit class name if set to "NONE"
output CSS within each tag (verbose output)
enclose fragmented output with pre tag (assumes -f)

disable Babel package shorthands
replace double quotes by \dq
adapt output for the Beamer package
improve appearance of brackets and other symbols

include page color attributes
set page size, <size>=[a3, a4, a5, b4, b5, b6, letter]
include character stylesheets

set image height (units allowed)
set image size (see --height)

create stand alone document
cancel the --doc option
the external style sheet filename
source language
specify tab length
number all output lines, optional padding
number all output lines and generate an anchor, made of the specified prefix
p + the line number (default='line')

output directory
if no language definition is found for the input, it is simply copied to the output

Highlight recognizes these variables:

sets the path to highlight's configuration scripts
may contain command line options, but no input file paths.

If no in- or output files are specified, stdin and stdout will be used for in- or output. HTML will be generated unless an other output format is given. Style definitions are stored in highlight.css (HTML, XHTML, SVG) or highlight.sty (LaTeX, TeX) if neither -c nor -I is given. Reformatting code (-F) will only work with C, C++, C# and Java input files.

The wrapping options might cause faulty highlighting of long single line comments.

The configuration files are stored in /usr/share/highlight/. Language definitions, themes and plugins are located in subdirectories.

Documentation files are stored in /usr/share/doc/highlight/ , configuration files in /etc/highlight/.

See README how to install own scripts in the home directory.

Single file conversion:

highlight -o hello.html -i hello.c

highlight -o hello.html hello.c

highlight -o hello.html -S c < hello.c

highlight -S c < hello.c > hello.html

Note that a file highlight.css is created in the current directory.

Batch file processing:

highlight --out-format=xhtml -B '*.cpp' -d /home/you/html_code/

converts all *.cpp files in the current directory and its subdirectories to xhtml files, and stores the output in /home/you/html_code.

highlight --out-format=latex * -d /home/you/latex_code/

converts all files to LaTeX, stored in /home/you/latex_code/.

Use --quiet to improve performance of batch file processing (recommended for usage in shell scripts).

Use highlight --out-format=xterm256 <yourfile> | less -R to display a source file in a terminal.

Run highlight --list-scripts=langs to see all supported syntax types.

Andre Simon <>

README file and highlight webpage at

2017-11-25 Andre Simon