I want to generate a PDF of user-submitted text using LaTeX. To handle crazy user input, I first thought about using the verbatim package, but of course it doesn't break up too long lines. Is there some package that works similar to verbatim (i.e., accept any input) but formats the text nicely?

  • I didn't find a way to use the verbatim package - instead I tried to cover all special cases by unrolling all LaTeX commands and all "special" characters.
    – kotlinski
    Commented Sep 20, 2010 at 14:02

5 Answers 5


The listings package provides you with a verbatim environment which can break lines:

  Long user text

If the user text is in an external file you can also use:

  • 2
    See also the answer at <tex.stackexchange.com/questions/11973/…> for an example of adjusting the formatting of the lstlisting environment. Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 23:05
  • This works better for me that the second option spverbatim, which breaks the long text only after the page span and hence some text is not seen... Commented Aug 10, 2018 at 15:29
  • will not work properly with UTF-8 chars out of the box Commented Jul 24, 2021 at 10:21
  • I'm writing in italian and UTF-8 issues of this package are really difficult to manage
    – massi
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 16:59

This is a very long line.1


The spverbatim package enables LaTEX to break lines at spaces within verbatim text.


The fancyvrb package in combination with the fvextra package allows you to use linebreaks in the Verbatim environment by specifying the breaklines=true option:



The following is printed verbatim, but with line breaks:
This is a very long line that will need to be broken into pieces otherwise it will run into and out of the margins
Alternatively, line breaks can be put anywhere, not just at white space:
\begin{Verbatim}[breaklines=true, breakanywhere=true]


Output of the fvextra example

  • 1
    As mentioned in the documentation, it's also possible to set this option globally with \fvset{breaklines=true}
    – user202729
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 2:05
  • Not working in overleaf: `fvextra.sty not found.' or 'Missing number, treated as zero.' if trying to skip fvextra
    – massi
    Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 17:01

Depending on what you exactly need, this might be sufficient: we reset all special characters to catcode other, in particular \, { and } lose their meaning. This will make it pretty hard to inject LaTeX code.



  \dospecials\catcode`\ 10

And to show it, we input ourselves: \saferead{test.tex}

You can use \def\@xobeysp{ } in the preamble of your document to make all spaces regular (breaking) spaces. This will not hyphenate or break ultra-long words, though.

To format the text nicely, you can use the Verbatim environment, in the fancyvrb package:

  Hello world hello world hello world

Will print the text in a Sans-seriF font family.

Though (I'm sorry!) the \def\@xobeysp{ } won't work with the Verbatim environment... So you must choose between the two.

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