I'm trying to implement two new key-value pairs for the fancyvrb package: head= and tail= specify how many lines to display: That is, head=10, tail=5 specifies to print the first 10 lines of the environment and last 5 lines.

(I know about the firstline= and lastline= options already available, but they are used to specify a 'middle' portion of the environment, which is a different problem.)

Getting the head= value to work isn't easy, but I think I understand how it can be done.

The tail= value I'm having trouble with. In order to display the tail portion, I need to know where the tail portion starts, which presumes I know how many lines are in the environment to begin with.

Is there a method for that?

  • You would need to store the verbatim lines in some form and then discard the last lines after reaching the end of the environment. Alternatively count the number of lines in the first compiler run, write that number in the aux file and use it in the next run. Oct 1, 2011 at 17:45
  • What engine are you using? PDFTeX, XeTeX or LuaTeX?
    – topskip
    Oct 1, 2011 at 19:33
  • @MartinScharrer I thought about writing to the aux file, but I'm not sure what you mean with your first suggestion. Is there a way to read and store the environment, count its lines, and then reparse?
    – Tim A
    Oct 1, 2011 at 20:13
  • @Patrick, I should have mentioned that, I'm using pdflatex. Probably LuaTeX would make this easier, but I need to use pdflatex for a production system.
    – Tim A
    Oct 1, 2011 at 20:13
  • @Tim did you try to compile your document with LuaTeX instead of PDFTeX? Sometimes this doesn't make any difference. Depends on the encoding of the file, though.
    – topskip
    Oct 2, 2011 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


I see two ways to accomplish this task.

First method. Save the verbatim text into a temporary file and then load it. Proof of concept




Second method. This assumes that the verbatim lines have all the same height. Save the processed verbatim environment in a \vbox and then split it using \vsplit.

  • Thanks, I think I see how to go forward from here, using your first method. Just fyi, I also found this thread: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/5870/… that has a more complicated solution.
    – Tim A
    Oct 3, 2011 at 23:32
  • There is one question I have about your second method. All the verbatim lines should have the same height and depth, but what can I use to vsplit by? Is there a command for lineheight or should I create a new vbox{\\ttfamily abcdefg} and use that dimen?
    – Tim A
    Oct 3, 2011 at 23:44
  • Basically, you can measure the height of the \vbox and divide by the baseline skip. Then you know how many lines there are and you can chop off with \vsplit the unwanted ones.
    – egreg
    Oct 3, 2011 at 23:47

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