I tried to run tex4ebook on the same MWE of this question (actually I tried also with a much more complex source, getting the same problem)

\section{section 1}
this is a test



tex4ebook test.tex -format epub3 -shell-escape

and I got the following error:

tex4ebook:unable to convert to number: -m

I just updated with tlmgr update --self --all --reinstall-forcibly-removed my TexLive 2016 Windows distribution (which updated tex4ht among others), and htlatex works correctly on my system. For example, running

htlatex test.tex "xhtml,charset=utf-8,fn-in,3,next,mouseover" " -cunihtf -utf8"

produces the expected xhtml file.

Any clue?

2 Answers 2


You can use two formats to pass options to tex4ebook, short and long names. Short options begin with one -, while long options begin with --. The problem in your case is that you want to use long names, but you start them with just one -, so tex4ebook tries to recognize them as as short ones.

You should either use

tex4ebook  --format epub3 --shell-escape test.tex

as long options, or

tex4ebook  -sf epub3 test.tex

for short options. As you can see, you can collapse multiple short options into one.

  • About the double -- I guess you might want to fix the documentation on CTAN ( mirrors.ctan.org/support/tex4ebook/tex4ebook-doc.pdf ), since from that PDF seems that also the full length option version (like format) should be called with a single -. I guess Tex replaced the double dash with a single longer dash.
    – mmj
    Jul 31, 2016 at 19:16
  • you are right, I've missed that. it is indeed the issue that double hyphen is replaced with dash
    – michal.h21
    Jul 31, 2016 at 19:38

The problem is with the syntax you are using. Instead of:

tex4ebook test.tex -format epub3 -shell-escape

please try:

tex4ebook --format epub3 -s test.tex

The epub will be generated.

Note: The problem is fixed when the last argument is the filename.


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