I'm writing a LaTeX text, but I need two versions of the same text, one normal and one with some more comments inside the text. How can I write both the versions using the same TEX file?

To be more clear I would like to obtain for example these two versions:

...first simple version...

...first simple version with some more comments is now second version...

And I would like for both of them the code to be something like:

...first simple version \secondversion{with some more comments is now second version}....

So that if I change a flag at the beginning of my TEX file I can obtain either the first or the second version.

  • 3
    In one version \newcommand\secondversion[1]{} and in the other, \newcommand\secondversion[1]{#1}. Naturally, the 2nd version could also present #1 in italics or color, or something else, if desired. Aug 30, 2016 at 11:33
  • Where are the comments going to appear? What kind of text? Long, short?
    – Alenanno
    Aug 30, 2016 at 11:35
  • IMO, the key is to use \jobname. Here is what i did to have two different PDFs from the same source when debugging some inconsistent behavior: tex.stackexchange.com/q/325102/37291.
    – Alexey
    Aug 30, 2016 at 11:55
  • I'd use conditionals and \jobname (as I did here): tex.stackexchange.com/a/71559/8528
    – jon
    Aug 30, 2016 at 14:54
  • Please note that unless your supply the -jobname argument to pdflatex, your second version will overwrite the first version, unless you move the first version manually before compiling the second one.
    – Alexey
    Sep 3, 2016 at 8:51

3 Answers 3


Here's a solution using a flag. You can set the flag in the preamble, change it on the fly in the document if you wish.

With a little more work you could set the flag on the compile command line without having to edit the file.



% set status globally in the preamble

% else


...first simple version \secondversion{with some more comments is now
  second version}....

% change status locally if you wish

...first simple version \secondversion{with some more comments is now
  second version}....


There are various packages that do precisely this. I use versions. In its documentation one can find a comparison to other packages. Below there is a minimum usage example.


Text for the \begin{abridged}short\end{abridged}\begin{unabridged}long and really longwinded, opaque and boring\end{unabridged} version of the paper. Punctuation works correctly\begin{unabridged}because sphack is used\end{unabridged}.
\begin{comment} This is deleted by default. \end{comment}
\begin{redact}This information was withdrawn\end{redact}

One has to pay attention not to leave blank spaces or add newline, for example, before the \begin{abridged} to get the proper spacing between word.


Here is my solution that relies on inspecting \jobname.

The source file:

% source.tex


\usepackage{etoolbox}  % for `\ifstrequal`

%% NOTE: i do not know how this works (how `\expandafter` works),
%%   but it works


  ...first simple version \secondversion{with some more comments is now second version}....

  Moreover, \mainversion{this will appear only in the main version,}
  \secondVsFirstVersion{this will appear only in the second version}{
  and this only in the first again}.

To obtain the main version of the output, run

pdflatex -jobname='main-version' source.tex

(or just pdflatex source.tex). To obtain the second, run

pdflatex -jobname='second-version' source.tex

Alternatively, create two hard links to this file called main-version.tex and second-version.tex and compile them as usual, without -jobname parameter.

IMO even better is to use a makefile with latexmk:

# Makefile


.PHONY: all
all: v1 v2

.PHONY: v1
v1: main-version.pdf

.PHONY: v2
v2: second-version.pdf

main-version.pdf: source.tex
    latexmk -pdf -jobname='main-version' '$<'

second-version.pdf: source.tex
    latexmk -pdf -jobname='second-version' '$<'

.PHONY: mostlyclean
    rm -f *.log

.PHONY: clean
clean: mostlyclean
    rm -f *.aux *.out *.toc *.fdb_latexmk *.fls

.PHONY: distclean
distclean: clean
    rm -f main-version.pdf second-version.pdf

Then to get both versions at once simply run make in the source directory.

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