Latex to Mobi Formula Converter

Bachelor Thesis

Michael Auß

Interactive Media Systems, E188/2, Favoritenstrasse 9-11, 4th floor, 1040 Wien, Austria

GitHub version Build status

Interactive Media Systems is a multimedia research group at the Institute of Software Technology and Interactive Systems, part of the Faculty of Informatics at the Vienna University of Technology.

About This Topic

"Develop a best-effort algorithm for the conversion of formulas set in Latex to Mobi (i.e. HTML 4). Currently, formulas are the biggest hurdle for the conversion of Latex documents into e-books. This component - if well done - would help providing costly scientifc books as cheap e-books."


The main purpose of this software is to provide the ability to automatically convert LaTeX documents into MOBI-eBooks, with the special interest in correct and automated rendering of mathematical formulas on Amazon Kindle eBook reader devices. Using the well known web markup and styling languages HTML and CSS, the rendering is independent from different screen sizes and densities.

Libraries used

Apache Commons



Java 7 or higher

You need to have the Java Runtime Environment installed in order to run this software. Download Java here:

Pandoc 1.13 or higher

This software makes great use of pandoc's LaTeX to HTML converter.

Download & install from

Add the installed pandoc executable/directory to your operating system's PATH variable.

OR: CLI arguments

Ad-hoc configuration is possible by passing the following optional command line argument:

-p / --pandoc-exec <pandoc-filepath>

Notice: this overrides all other previous discussed settings.

Amazon KindleGen

This is the standard way to generate a .Mobi-File.

Download & install from

Add the installed kindlegen executable/directory to your operating system's PATH variable.

OR: CLI arguments

Ad-hoc configuration is possible by passing the following optional command line argument:

-k / --kindlegen-exec <KindleGen exec path>

Alternative: Calibre

Calibre comes with a bunch of CLI tools including an ebook converter. As an alternative to the proprietary Amazon KindleGen you are able to use latex2mobi with calibre instead.

As with the above executables the tool ebook-convert requires you to

add the ebook-convert executable to your PATH variable

OR you specify its path with the following option:

-c / --calibre-exec <calibre's ebook-convert exec path>


Java Development Kit (JDK) 7 or higher

This software uses the Java SE JDK 7.


This project is built with Maven 3.3.x

IntelliJ IDEA (optional)

This project was built with IntelliJ IDEA and comes with a configured dual module project. Just checkout the git repository and open the project's root directory with IntelliJ IDEA.

Find IntelliJ IDEA here:

Conversion strategy

Converting LaTeX and rendering formulas is a complex topic. I want to give a short explanation about my main conversion strategy:

1. Main document structure conversion (without formulas)

The complete LaTeX code will be transformed into an HTML representation, except for the formulas.

Initially Pandoc converts the LaTeX document input file to HTML5.

We use Pandoc's options just to mark the formulas with a "LaTeX" HTML class.

Rendering of other document parts is up to Pandoc alone. Some basic styling for tables and font sizes are set in main.css

2. Converting all formulas from LaTeX to MathML with SnuggleTeX

In order to transform your LaTeX formulas for displaying inside a Mobi-/Kindle Format-Ebook, we have to generate markup. A known standard for this is MathML and its presentation markup. This project makes heavy use of SnuggleTeX to parse LaTeX Formulas and generate MathML2.

LaTeX Support Notes

For details see in latex2mobi-converter directory!

Note: SnuggleTeX only supports a subset of LaTeX:

Note: SnuggleTeX requires clean LaTeX syntax

for correct parsing!

i.e.: LaTeX Command Arguments have to be correctly surrounded by curly brackets like:

This Command works: \newcommand{\rfrac}[2]{{}^{#1}\!/_{#2}}

DOES NOT WORK: \newcommand\rfrac[2]{{}^{#1}\!/_{#2}}

3. Transforming all formulas from MathML to pure HTML markup and applying a static stylesheet

At this step, every formula has been transformed into MathML which will be rendered to a pure HTML+CSS output. The converter replaces each LaTeX formula with the resulting Markup.


As of today the Kindle devices and apps do not support rendering of MathML of any kind. This software package makes reasonable assumptions for rendering MathML with the Mobi/Kindle Format supported subset of HTML5 + CSS3. On Kindle devices or apps, you can not use any JavaScript or other DOM processing languages.

4. Converting the resulting HTML document to the MOBI-Format

The last step for completion is the step to convert the HTML+CSS into a readable Mobi-Ebook.

The command line version of latex2mobi currently includes only an HtmlToMobiConverter which uses Amazon's Kindlegen Executable.

The Calibre plugin produces HTML5 markup and a CSS stylesheet which will be passed to a Calibre-builtin output converter. Mobi or other output files can be chosen from within calibre, see the plugin's README for more information.

Known Issues

Rendering issues

  • LaTeX which results in MathML-Elements of munder, mover or similar
  • Dynamically sized brackets, braces, parantheses etc. (except for Matrices), over- or underlines will not be rendered correctly

Trademark Notice

Amazon, Kindle, Fire and all related logos are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates.