I use AUCTeX. AUCTeX has inserted a comment at the end of my test4.tex file that reads:

%%% TeX-master: "test3"

What does it mean?

When I try to compile and pdf-print test4.tex, the document that gets opened is test3.pdf. Why?

  • 5
    It says “C-c C-c runs LaTeX on test3.tex instead of the file corresponding to the current buffer”. Useful if you are working on a subfile and want to compile the main document, instead.
    – egreg
    May 14, 2017 at 10:04

1 Answer 1


The tex master tells emacs which document to pass to latex.

So you can have a section or even just a single equation in a file that is \input into your master document, and when you use C-c C-c or any other command that requires a full document, then the master document will be run.

  • Whenever I C-c C-c a new document, AUCTeX asks what the master document should be. If I understand you correctly, this means that I should normally choose the document that I am working on, right?
    – Evan Aad
    May 14, 2017 at 10:08
  • @EvanAad it should default to that, ie if you just hit return it will do the right thing. May 14, 2017 at 10:15
  • OK. Here's something I don't understand. When I create a new .tex document it asks me to provide a master file, but it doesn't give me as a default the file that I'm creating; instead it gives as default the currently open .tex document. Is this how it's supposed to act?
    – Evan Aad
    May 14, 2017 at 10:24
  • 1
    Your settings must be different as for single file documents I don't have the comment at all, but the behaviour you suggest isn't unreasonable if you think of a model where your master document is "thesis.tex" for 3 years but during that time you want to open many other files for individual sections. However this is emacs any behaviour is configurable if you don't like it;-) May 14, 2017 at 10:33
  • 1
    @EvanAad - You can customize TeX-master, check the documentation for options. May 14, 2017 at 10:43

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