In MikTex with \usepackage{listings}, when including a textfile into a pdf-document using


then ocassionally, the display of the tabstops in the created pdf-file doesn't match the display of the tabstops in the original textfile (when opened with an editor such as notepad).

This looks rather ugly. What can be done about it?

PS: I don't know how to upload pictures here, otherwhise I would append an example to make it clearer.

  • 1
    You can add a picture just providing a link to it with the "link" button. Any user with enough privileges will be able to set the image to visible. However also a minimal example would be better.
    – egreg
    Oct 6, 2011 at 12:32
  • I was hoping this would be a known problem. Also, with the link button I can just provide a link, I cannot upload an image.
    – Ben
    Oct 6, 2011 at 12:45
  • @Ben: Add the image in the regular way (by clicking on the image button/Ctrl+G). This is still possibly regardless of your reputation. However, with low reputation, instead of leaving things as-is, just paste the image URL (at the bottom of your post after uploading) and nothing else.
    – Werner
    Oct 6, 2011 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


I think you have a problem with the standard interpretation of the tabsize for tabulators. You can redefine the size of them with tabsize=X, where X is the number of empty spaces. Per default this number is 8 (which seems too long for some textformats).


Source: Chapter "2.5 Special Characters" Listings.pdf

Tabulators You might get unexpected output if your sources contain tabulators. The package assumes tabulator stops at columns 9, 17, 25, 33, and so on. This is predefined via tabsize=8. If you change the eight to the number n, you will get tabulator stops at columns n + 1, 2n + 1, 3n + 1, and so on.

  • Thank you, using tabsize (in combination with adding a few whitespaces manually into the textfile) solved the problem at hand. It is uncomfortable though, since I'll probably have to work out the right tabsize manually for every file + I still don't understand why it can't just display it as I see it in notepad.
    – Ben
    Oct 6, 2011 at 14:24
  • Why does it assume tabulator stops at certain positions, rather than just putting them where I put the tab characters in my textfile? Is there a way to overwrite this default behaviour such that it puts the tabstops where they are in my file?
    – Ben
    Oct 6, 2011 at 14:26
  • It depends on your Editor. Sometimes you can choose between tabulator or just put an predefined amount of empty space in case of an desired tabulator. Last one is more definite for same view in Latex. If you still wanna use tabulators, you need to take care of coding conventions. Usually it should then look the same as in your Editor (except that the tabulator size is defined too long).
    – Markus G.
    Oct 6, 2011 at 18:33

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