Is there a way to copy from a PDF to a LaTeX document? Whenever I do it, it copies in with weird symbols in the place of LaTeX commands for example:

$$f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow \mathbb{R}$$

copies in as

f : R ! R;

I did a quick search and I couldn't really find anything (some sort of PDF to LaTeX converter that worked well)

Am I missing something obvious or can this not be done (for some reason)?

  • 3
    You are probably out of luck: see tex.stackexchange.com/questions/8503/…. Your question will probably be closed as a duplicate. Dec 11, 2012 at 18:32
  • Are you interested in getting useful symbols or do you really want the complete LaTeX code back? Dec 11, 2012 at 18:40
  • 2
    For instance, if I add \input{glyphtounicode} \pdfgentounicode=1 to the preamble of the document, I get f : R → R. Dec 11, 2012 at 18:46
  • @EthanBolker I just found out how to make it paste back as TeX code ;-) Dec 11, 2012 at 19:40
  • 1
    @hmmmm could you disambiguate whether you want to copy LaTeX from any PDF document or want to be able to make a PDF from which LaTeX can be copied? Dec 11, 2012 at 21:41

1 Answer 1


Try this:





\pasteablelatex{$$f:\mathbb{R}\rightarrow \mathbb{R}$$}


  • To be clear, can you confirm that this only works if the person who compiled the PDF used this method? I guess that without that there's no way to do this, isn't there? Dec 11, 2012 at 19:57
  • @AndrewStacey Not sure what you mean. It's a method to make PDF paste back LaTeX code. Dec 11, 2012 at 19:59
  • I mean that if you give me a PDF without the source code then I can't use your method to recover that source code. But if I as an author want to be kind to readers (assuming that there are some) then I can use this to make my PDF so that copying gives the LaTeX code. Dec 11, 2012 at 20:05
  • Exactly. It has to be used when compiling the LaTeX to PDF. Dec 11, 2012 at 20:05
  • 4
    Is there a way to make all the document pasteable?
    – Manuel
    Dec 11, 2012 at 20:23

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