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I am not that much into TeX/LaTex programming ...

but what I want to do is the following:

How to put a number into my document that increments with every compilation

My ideas so far are:

  • use a text file as storage of the number
  • read in the number
  • add 1
  • save the number to the text file
  • put the number into the text

I was able to use something like this :


(source) to write to a file but did not manage to read the number from the file into a variable that than could be iterated by one and saved back to the file. Does anyone has an idea?

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It should be pointed out that the file with the number should be read before you write a number to it. The \immediate\openout command immediately overwrites whatever was in the file beforehand. David's answer uses the .aux file, which is input at the beginning of \begin{document}'s code, before material added by \AtBeginDocument. A second point: it is easiest to write the full definition to the external file (as in David's answer), and then just input it to get the macro defined. –  Dan Jul 3 at 19:54

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can use the package totcount:


  % when the aux file doesn't yet exist the value is -1
  % so we fix it
  \ifnum\value{compilation}=-1 \setcounter{compilation}{0}\fi


This is \LaTeX{} run number \thecompilation.


This will however restart from 1 if the .aux file is removed or gets corrupted. You can use, instead, a different file:


  % no file yet
  \read\readcompilation to \temp


This is \LaTeX{} run number \thecompilation.


If nothing goes wrong, the file with the same name as the main file and extension .vrs will contain the number of the most recent run.

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\edef\mynum{\the\numexpr\mynum + 1\relax}%



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Ah, nice, this uses the .aux file to store the value. But when the .aux is deleted, the version number is lost - right? Is it possible to use another file for storage? –  Peter M Jul 4 at 7:57
Yes but you shouldn't delete the aux file, you could save it in a .foo file but if you delete that you'd have the same problem. You need to read the old file, close it then re-open for writing, it's easier with aux as latex is doing that anyway. To use another one I'd probably use \@starttoc{foo} which is the helper macro behind toc for table of contents and lof for list of figures etc. But personally I'd use aux –  David Carlisle Jul 4 at 8:44

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