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I'm looking for a TeX editor, not a LaTeX editor. I usually run from the command line, so what I want is just the editing facilites. Specifially, I'd like a simple, lightweight editor providing customizable syntax highlighting. It would be nice if I could provide the program with one or more lists of commands to be displayed with different colours.

I'm using Windows.

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    Does Sublime Text suit your needs? – Count Zero Jun 11 '13 at 8:55
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    Emacs+AUCTeX has a base plain TeX support. – giordano Jun 11 '13 at 9:08
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    nearly all LaTeX editors also support plain TeX documents! – user2478 Jun 11 '13 at 9:58
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    Emacs + AUCTeX is the ultimate text editor (and not just for (La)TeXing). – Svend Tveskæg Jun 11 '13 at 12:56
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    Just plain Vim without any plugins works well for plain TeX. – musarithmia Aug 2 '15 at 3:33
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I have recently started using Code Browser http://tibleiz.net/code-browser/ which is excellent. Has the best code folding model I have found. Great configurable syntax highlighting for TEX.

It is missing some features of some other mentioned text editors (for examnple the macro language is a little rudimentary) - but the folding in particular, and a few other neat things has projected it to the top of my list regardless.

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  • I have tried SublimeEdit, suggested avobe, and is easily configurable, just copy-paste-edit from the default configuration files. Nothing comes out magically, i.e., no special semantics known to the program. I'll try this other one tomorrow. Seems promising by the description you provide. – Javier A. M. Jun 11 '13 at 18:18
  • My comment is a liitle outdated -- given it's 7 years ago. I tried Texstudio (which is good enough) but I do other coding that LaTex and need a consistent interface. Atom with well chosen package plugins works fantastically (great code completion, configurable syntax highlighting, code commenting, folding etc). – Aubrey Blumsohn Sep 10 '20 at 11:11
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I would suggest you go with Notepad++ (http://notepad-plus-plus.org/)

It is light, free (libre and gratis) and you can have it portable as well (you can run it from a pen drive, you don't need to install it).

It has highlighting for TeX and many other languages, and it is easy configurable. Some plugins are really useful (like the one for comparing files) and I love the capability to search between several documents.

You should really give it a try.

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  • Notepas++ is not cross-plattform. Look under the About at the homepage. It is a Window$ editor. – Sveinung Jun 11 '13 at 11:29
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    @Sveinung The OP is running Windows. – egreg Jun 11 '13 at 12:43
  • I have been using Notepat++ awhile and came to the point that made me reject it back then. The syntax hilighting for TeX comes out magically, as can be guessed by looking at the xml languages definition file, so it cannot be personalised. – Javier A. M. Jun 11 '13 at 18:16
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    @egreg Yes, OP is running on Windows, but Notepad++ is still not cross-plattform. – Sveinung Jun 13 '13 at 7:10
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For widows, I use RTextDoc editor. It simple to use, plus has syntax highlighting and grammar checker

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  • The OP is looking for a TeX editor, and RTextDoc explicitly states it's a LaTeX editor. – Werner Aug 1 '15 at 5:26
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Visual Studio Code is the best I've found so far. OP says they're using Windows, so they'd want to follow the link, but for Linux, you can usually find it in your package manager (it's called code for pacman users).


Here are some editors I've played around with while looking for plain TeX support. All of them work on Windows, Mac, and Linux too! If you try one of these other GUI editors, make sure the correct filetype is selected.

  • Vim: Pretty good. Good syntax highlighting with reasonable colors. And although I haven't tried it, vimtex looks like a good plugin that'll probably add more features for plain TeX like command completion and compilation. I definitely know that you can rig Vim to run your own compilation commands/sequences.
  • Emacs + AUCTeX: Emacs is an alternative to Vim. Others have mentioned that AUCTeX makes for a good environment, but already knowing Vim, I find it hard to switch to another editor with a similar learning curve. If you're an Emacs fan, go for it; otherwise, I'd recommend giving VS Code a try first.
  • TeXstudio: Syntax highlighting issues. Too hard-coded to support LaTeX only, but command completion does exist for plain TeX.
  • Sublime Text: I think I might have had to install a plugin. There's syntax highlighting support that's decent, but no command completion. The default coloring for syntax highlighting is a bit ugly in my opinion too.
  • Atom: Nothing out of the box, but you get some decent syntax highlighting after installing the plugin language-tex. No command completion. It looks like there exist spell check plugins that are still in beta, but I couldn't get them to work at the time of writing this. LaTeXTools might be another plugin of interest (it's recommended by TUG).

About VS Code

VS Code (Visual Studio Code) has plain TeX support after installing the LaTeX Workshop extension (Left menu -> search for extension).

Extension installation

Make sure you have TeX selected as the language mode once you have a file open (bottom status bar).

Select TeX as the filetype

Here you can see some of the syntax highlighting and command completion:

Command completion example

You also get spell check through the Spell Right extension (supporting multiple languages). Once installed, it takes a little configuration---read a little further down the Details page of the extension for your operating system. I had to run (you might also have to install hunspell):

ln -s /usr/share/hunspell/* ~/.config/Code\ -\ OSS/Dictionaries

and then enable English spell checking in the editor status bar.


I might come back and add more once I figure out compilation features in VS Code (if you've got it figured out, just edit my answer), but I really like what I see so far. I was dumping this as I was learning about it. I hope it helps someone else looking for good editors.

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