I have a very similar problem to this old one, closed for being too specific:

File expl3.sty not found when trying to compile a *.tex file with XeLaTeX

But I have read a few people having it with no solution. A while ago I had to update my expl3 packages which were too old ( https://www.ctan.org/pkg/expl3?lang=en ). After updating (kernel, packages, experimental) the .dtx files are present but not the .sty files.

Error message as follows.

! LaTeX Error: File `expl3.sty' not found.

Type X to quit or <RETURN> to proceed,
or enter new name. (Default extension: sty)

Enter file name: 
Emergency stop.

<read *> 
l.20 \RequirePackage{expl3}[2011/09/05]   ^^M
/usr/share/texlive/texmf-dist/tex/latex/fontspec/fontspec.sty:20:  ==> Fatal error occurred, no output PDF file produced!

I have also downloaded the most recent fontspec.


  • What is the nature of your TeX installation? This sounds very specific: a 'broken' set up! – Joseph Wright Jun 19 '16 at 15:37
  • Are there any associated .ins files? Running latex on them may then extract the .sty files from the .dtx files. – Andrew Swann Jun 19 '16 at 15:54
  • There are no .ins files expect l3format.ins (see the list of files in the ctan link). Running latex on this file does not solve the problem. Not sure what exactly is meant by the nature of the installation? – Andrew Winter Jun 19 '16 at 15:58
  • if you are using texlive or miktex or any recent tex distribution you should not have to download fontspec or expl3 from ctan and install it by hand, you should just run an update command such as tlmgr and the package manager will install the needed files. – David Carlisle Jun 19 '16 at 15:59
  • Ah, I found l3.ins - running this with latex worked - thanks @AndrewSwann – Andrew Winter Jun 19 '16 at 16:03

Solution - perhaps should be obvious for people more use to latex, but it was not to me after looking at previous posts:

After downloading expl3 packages, run latex on l3.ins in the directory to extract .sty files from .dtx ones.

(Thanks to Andy Swann)

  • 3
    You really shouldn't need to unpack the code yourself (we provide a pre-build .tds.zip for the odd user needing to update 'locally). Your TeX system should offer expl3. – Joseph Wright Jun 19 '16 at 16:09
  • I have a feeling this is to do with the fact that my TeX version is out of date. I am updating now to find out. – Andrew Winter Jun 19 '16 at 17:33

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