Update log
  • 2021-02-20: Add inverse search settings on Windows and macOS

Previously, I have written a post on how to write and compile LaTeX source code in Sublime Text. Now that I am familiar with Neovim, I want to do everything related to text editing inside Neovim. In this post, I would like to share how to configure Neovim for LaTeX editing and previewing.

My complete config for vimtex can be found here (search vimtex) on my nvim-config repo .


Before we begin, you should make sure that you have installed the following softwares and plugins.

  • TeX Distribution: TeX Live is preferred since it is bundled with the possible many tools you will ever need for writing LaTeX.
  • Auto-complete plugin: Since I use Neovim, so I recommend using deoplete.
  • Snippet Engine and snippet plugin: I recommend Ultisnips along with the many snippets provided by plugin vim-snippets.

Then we need to install the LaTeX plugin for Neovim. Vimtex is a great choice. To install it, we can use vim-plug:

Plug 'lervag/vimtex'

Faster LaTeX source file editing


In writing LaTeX source code, auto-completion is crucial for fast editing and improves our efficiency dramatically. Vimtex supports completion for citations, labels (for figure, equation, table, section, etc.), commands, environments, packages and document classes and more. For more documentation on completion, see :h vimtex-completion.

Vimtex can work with several completion engines such as deoplete, YouCompleteMe, ncm2. Since I use deoplete for completion, I will just introduce how to configure it for deoplete1. To make vimtex work with deoplete, add the following setting to your init.vim:

" This is new style
call deoplete#custom#var('omni', 'input_patterns', {
      \ 'tex': g:vimtex#re#deoplete

After that, you should be able to use auto-completion.

How to quickly insert an environment?

Vimtex supports autocompletion through autocompletion engines such as deoplete. After configuring vimtex to use deoplete, you should be able to use the snippet provided by Ultisnips2.

Ultisnips is a snippet engine, which uses vim-snippets to provide the actual snippet for various file types. To insert an figure environment, type fig in insert mode and press Tab.

To insert an enumerate environment, type enum in insert mode and press Tab. The complete list of snippets provided by vim-snippets can be found here.

How to close an environment?

After typing \begin{ENV}, how do we automatically close it with \end{ENV}? With vimtex, you can press ]] in insert mode to auto-close an environment.

Useful mappings and shortcuts

Vimtex provides the e text object to facilitate vim-surround like features for manipulating an environment quickly:

  • cse: change an environment
  • dse: delete an environment
  • tse:toggle stared environment and no-star environment, e.g., change from equation* to equation and vice versa.

You can also use the standard Vim motion with this object. For example, vie will select the inside an environment, and vae will select the entire environment (including the begin and end commands).

There are other shortcuts provided:

  • ]]: close an environment (only work in insert mode, in normal mode, it will bring cursor to next subsection instead). After you have typed begin{ENV}, use ]] to auto-close it with \end{ENV}

For more mappings, see :h vimtex-default-mappings.

Jumping between references and the definition

It would be nice if we can jump to the definition of a label with the native Vim shortcut Ctrl-]. You have to do several things.

First, you need to install a ctags executable. See here on how to install ctags.

Second, you need to install a plugin to manage tags file for you. vim-gutentags is a good option. It will update the tags file automatically once the source file has been changed. To make gutentags work, you need to tell it where your project root is. The easiest way is to make your project a git repository.

Open the TeX source file again, the tags file should be created automatically. If the cursor is in \ref{some_label}, you can press Ctrl + ] to go the position where some_label is defined. BTW, to jump back, you can use Ctrl-T.

Useful command

  • :VimtexInfo: show all relevant info about current LaTeX project.
  • :VimtexTocOpen: show table of contents window
  • :VimtexTocToggle: toggle table of contents window
  • :VimtexCompile: Compile the current LaTeX source file and opens the viewer after successful compilation.
  • :VimtexStop: Stop compilation for the current project.
  • :VimtexClean: clean auxiliary files generated in compliation process.

Other settings

PDF previewing

Vimtex supports several PDF viewer based on the platform. On Windows, SumatraPDF is a good choice. Below is the settings needed for SumatraPDF to work as the default viewer for the compiled PDF files.

" settings for sumatraPDF
let g:vimtex_view_general_viewer = 'SumatraPDF'
let g:vimtex_view_general_options
    \ = '-reuse-instance -forward-search @tex @line @pdf'
let g:vimtex_view_general_options_latexmk = '-reuse-instance'

After the above settings, if you use :VimtexCompile command, the compiled PDF will be opened in sumatraPDF automatically. If it does not show up, you can also use :VimtexView to open the PDF manually.

On Mac, you can install Skim and use it as a PDF viewer. My current settings for previewing PDF on Mac is:

Click to see the code.
" let g:vimtex_view_method = "skim"
let g:vimtex_view_general_viewer = '/Applications/Skim.app/Contents/SharedSupport/displayline'
let g:vimtex_view_general_options = '-r @line @pdf @tex'

augroup vimtex_mac
    autocmd User VimtexEventCompileSuccess call UpdateSkim()
augroup END

function! UpdateSkim() abort
    let l:out = b:vimtex.out()
    let l:src_file_path = expand('%:p')
    let l:cmd = [g:vimtex_view_general_viewer, '-r']

    if !empty(system('pgrep Skim'))
    call extend(l:cmd, ['-g'])

    call jobstart(l:cmd + [line('.'), l:out, l:src_file_path])

Note the below settings are not up to date, see this post for a more up to date config without much manual labor.

First, we need to install neovim-remote:

pip install -U neovim-remote

Second, we start nvim with a listen address so that nvim can listen for RPC calls.

nvim --listen localhost:12345 test.tex

The port number does not matter as long as it is not taken by other applications. If you use nvim-qt, you can use the following command instead:

nvim-qt -- --listen localhost:12345 test.tex

Now the settings will differ for the PDF viewer you use on different platforms.

Inverse search for Sumatra PDF on Windows

Open Sumatra PDF, go to Settings --> Options, in the bottom part, there is a section Set inverse search command-line, put the following command there:

nvr --servername localhost:12345 +"%l" "%f"
  • %f: it means the tex source file path corresponding to the current pdf.
  • %l: it means the line in the original tex file.

Double click somewhere in the PDF file, your cursor in nvim/nvim-qt should go to the corresponding line in the file buffer.

Inverse search for Skim on macOS

Open Skim PDF viewer, open the Preferences menu and go to Sync page. Set the part PDF-Tex Sync support, use the following settings:

  • Preset: Custom
  • Command: nvr
  • Arguments: --servername localhost:12345 +"%line" "%file"

Based on discussion here, we can also start nvim without the --listen option (nvim test.tex). When we open a tex file in nvim, we can write the nvim server address to a file and read it when running the nvr command in Skim.

Inside the Nvim config, add the following setting:

augroup vimtex_mac
  autocmd FileType tex call SetServerName()
augroup END

function! SetServerName()
  call system('echo ' . v:servername . ' > /tmp/curvimserver')

For skim, we change the Arguments in Sync page to the following:

  • Arguments: --servername `cat /tmp/curvimserver` +"%line" "%file"

To start inverse search, press Shift and Command key, then click the text you want to inv-search.

Linting and syntax checking

I use neomake for syntax checking. For LaTeX source file, neomake provides several makers:

Among the makers, lacheck and chktex are installed if you have installed Tex Live. Proselint can be installed via pip:

pip install proselint

Setting up table of contents

Vimtex can show a nice little table of contents window on the left side if you use command VimtexTocOpen. By default, the lables in each section is also shown, which makes the TOC clutter with texts. We can customize TOC with following settings:

" TOC settings
let g:vimtex_toc_config = {
      \ 'name' : 'TOC',
      \ 'layers' : ['content', 'todo', 'include'],
      \ 'resize' : 1,
      \ 'split_width' : 50,
      \ 'todo_sorted' : 0,
      \ 'show_help' : 1,
      \ 'show_numbers' : 1,
      \ 'mode' : 2,

For detailed meaning of the keys in the above dictionary, refer to :h g:vimtex_toc_config.

TeX directives

If you are compiling a LaTeX source file written in non-English character, you may want to use the TeX directive to specify the compiling program. Vimtex supports two TeX directives: TeX root and TeX program. TeX program directive is useful when we want to compile the LaTeX source code with xelatex instead of pdflatex. In order to compile your LaTeX source file with xelatex, add the following directive to the first line of the source code:

%!TeX program = xelatex


  1. For configuring vimtex to work with other completion engines, please refer to :h vimtex-complete-auto. ↩︎

  2. See this post on how to configure Ultisnips for Neovim. ↩︎