In LaTeX it is customary to put the content of different chapters into different files which are then pulled into a master file using \include{FILENAME} statements. One can then use the \includeonly{SPEC} command to compile only those chapters which are specified by SPEC.

The TeX.SO question Typeset single chapter from book shows how to do this. Here comes my question:

Is it possible to tell AUCTeX to parse through the master file and compile each of the \include'd files to its own pdf file?

Say I have this:



in a file called Master.tex. The function I'm looking for would then compile Chap1 to Master_Chap1.pdf, Chap2 to Master_Chap2.pdf and so on [By using \includeonly I'd assume].

  • AUCTeX does not provide any command for this purpose. You'll need to write your own. I fail to see a use case for this, though. Why do you want separate files per chapter, rather than just one PDF, if you're processing all chapters anyway?
    – user227
    Oct 6, 2014 at 10:43
  • This is would be a very useful feature during the proofreading process.
    – elemakil
    Oct 6, 2014 at 10:48
  • I can't see how proof-reading was eased by having the document split into per-chapter PDFs? You could just as well read through the entire PDF.
    – user227
    Oct 6, 2014 at 10:50
  • 1
    Unless you send different chapters to different reviewers or at different stages of the proofreading process.
    – elemakil
    Oct 6, 2014 at 10:53
  • 6
    LaTeX can parse its files better than any custom elisp. So you should look for a LaTeX package IMO. The subfiles LaTeX package should do what you are looking for.
    – Vamsi
    Oct 6, 2014 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


EDIT: Totally didn't read all the comments on the answer. Looks like the subfiles LaTeX package might be a cleaner way. Leaving this here because options.

There is not a built-in way to do this. After a bit of elisp hacking, I came up with this solution:

(defun TeX-compile-all-chapters-from-master (cmd prefix)
  "Compile chapters using `CMD' with prefix `PREFIX'.

Each \include{foo} will be processed by running `CMD' formatted with args `PREFIX', `NAME' (foo in this example) and `TMP-FILE-NAME'."
  (let ((text (buffer-string)))
      (goto-char 0)
      (while (search-forward-regexp "\\(include\\){\\(.+\\)}" (buffer-size) t)
        (let* ((name (match-string 2))
               (tmp-file-name (concat "/tmp/tex-compile-all-" name))
               (incl-end (match-end 1)))
          (with-temp-file tmp-file-name
            (insert text)
            (goto-char incl-end)
            (insert "only"))
          (TeX-run-compile nil (format cmd prefix name tmp-file-name) nil)
          (delete-file tmp-file-name))))))

Example usage:

(TeX-compile-all-chapters-from-master "pdflatex -jobname %s_%s %s" "Master")

To bind this to a key, use define-key and either a lambda containing the above or apply-partially. Note to ELispers: Fairly sure my code isn't idiomatic in several areas ((insert text), tmp file name generation). Please help.

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