I'm using XeLaTeX and Overleaf as my editor. I want to use the listings package to list my LaTeX codes. I can properly list most normal codes using the my style below, but when I try to list some lines in my preamble, there would be a lot of errors. (e.g. Undefined control sequence. LaTeX Error: Environment lstlisting undefined. LaTeX Error: Missing \begin{document}. ...etc)

Are there any ways to list the \documentclass without corrupting the PDF? Should I use \verb instead?

Here is my code:

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{article}

\definecolor{code-keyword-color}{rgb}{0.61, 0.14, 0.58} % purple
\definecolor{code-comment-color}{rgb}{0.36, 0.42, 0.47} % gray
\definecolor{code-string-color}{rgb}{0.77, 0.1, 0.09} % orange
\definecolor{code-identifier-color}{rgb}{0.42, 0.21, 0.66} %purple

    numbers=left,                             % Position of line numbers
    numberstyle=\sffamily\scriptsize,         % Style of line numbers
    stepnumber=1,                             % Margin between line numbers
    numbersep=5pt,                            % Margin between line numbers and text
    extendedchars=true,                       % Lets you use non-ASCII characters; for 8-bits encodings only, does not work with UTF-8
    breaklines=true,                          % Lines will be wrapped
    breakatwhitespace=false,                  % Sets if automatic breaks should only happen at whitespace     
    keepspaces=true,                          % keeps spaces in text, useful for keeping indentation of code (possibly needs columns=flexible)
    showspaces=false,                         % show spaces everywhere adding particular underscores; it overrides 'showstringspaces'
    showstringspaces=false,                   % underline spaces within strings only
    showtabs=false                            % show tabs within strings adding particular underscores
    captionpos=t,                             % Caption position: top
    escapeinside={\%*}{*)},                   % If you want to add LaTeX within your code




% this works

% this does not work
\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{article}

  • Compile the file using xelatex+TeXLive2023, still no error occurs. image.
    – Stephen
    Jul 12 at 5:02

1 Answer 1


This is due to the mechanics of how Overleaf choose files to compile.

When a main document is not specified in Overleaf, the compiler will try to compile the current file when "Compile" is executed.

When a main document is specified, Overleaf will still try to compile the current file if this document contains the string \documentclass, regardless which line it is, or whether it begins in a new line.

My workaround is to typeset this via \texttt{\textbackslash documentclass}, or \verb!\!\verb!documentclass!.

Reference: Overleaf - Set Main Document https://www.overleaf.com/learn/how-to/Set_Main_Document

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