3.4 Invoking lilypond-book

lilypond-book produces a file with one of the following extensions: ‘.tex’, ‘.texi’, ‘.html’ or ‘.xml’, depending on the output format. All of ‘.tex’, ‘.texi’ and ‘.xml’ files need further processing.

Format-specific instructions


There are two ways of processing your LaTeX document for printing or publishing: getting a PDF file directly with PDFLaTeX, or getting a PostScript file with LaTeX via a DVI to PostScript translator like dvips. The first way is simpler and recommended1, and whichever way you use, you can easily convert between PostScript and PDF with tools, like ps2pdf and pdf2ps included in Ghostscript package.

To produce a PDF file through PDFLaTeX, use:

lilypond-book --pdf yourfile.lytex
pdflatex yourfile.tex

To produce PDF output via LaTeX/dvips/ps2pdf:

lilypond-book yourfile.lytex
latex yourfile.tex
dvips -Ppdf yourfile.dvi
ps2pdf yourfile.ps

The ‘.dvi’ file created by this process will not contain note heads. This is normal; if you follow the instructions, they will be included in the ‘.ps’ and ‘.pdf’ files.

Running dvips may produce some warnings about fonts; these are harmless and may be ignored. If you are running latex in twocolumn mode, remember to add ‘-t landscape’ to the dvips options.

Environments such as;

\begin{lilypond} … \end{lilypond}

are not interpreted by LaTeX. Instead, lilypond-book extracts those ‘environments’ into files of its own and runs LilyPond on them. It then takes the resulting graphics and creates a ‘.tex’ file where the \begin{lilypond}\end{lilypond} macros are then replaced by ‘graphics inclusion’ commands. It is at this time that LaTeX is run (although LaTeX will have run previously, it will have been, effectively, on an ‘empty’ document in order to calculate things like \linewidth).

Known issues and warnings

The \pageBreak command will not work within a \begin{lilypond} … \end{lilypond} environment.

Many \paper block variables will also not work within a \begin{lilypond} … \end{lilypond} environment. Use \newcommand with \betweenLilyPondSystem in the preamble;



To produce a Texinfo document (in any output format), follow the normal procedures for Texinfo; this is, either call texi2pdf or texi2dvi or makeinfo, depending on the output format you want to create. By default, texi2pdf uses pdftex for processing, which you can verify in the console output. In this case, run lilypond-book with the ‘--pdf’ option so that it creates ‘.pdf’ snippets instead of ‘.eps’ files. pdftex is unable to include the latter ones and will output an error message otherwise.

See the documentation of Texinfo for further details.

Command line options

lilypond-book accepts the following command line options:

-f format

Specify the document type to process: html, latex, texi (the default) or docbook. If this option is missing, lilypond-book tries to detect the format automatically, see Filename extensions. Currently, texi is the same as texi-html.

-F filter

Pipe snippets through filter. lilypond-book will not –filter and –process at the same time. For example,

lilypond-book --filter='convert-ly --from=2.0.0 -' my-book.tely

Print a short help message.

-I dir

Add dir to the include path. lilypond-book also looks for already compiled snippets in the include path, and does not write them back to the output directory, so in some cases it is necessary to invoke further processing commands such as makeinfo or latex with the same ‘-I dir’ options.

-l loglevel

Set the output verbosity to loglevel. Possible values are NONE, ERROR, WARNING, PROGRESS (default) and DEBUG. If this option is not used, and the environment variable LILYPOND_BOOK_LOGLEVEL is set, its value is used as the loglevel.

-o dir

Place generated files in directory dir. Running lilypond-book generates lots of small files that LilyPond will process. To avoid all that garbage in the source directory, use the ‘--output’ command line option, and change to that directory before running latex or makeinfo.

lilypond-book --output=out yourfile.lytex
cd out

Do not fail if no lilypond output is found. It is used for LilyPond Info documentation without images.


Do not fail if no PNG images are found for EPS files. It is used for LilyPond Info documentation without images.


Write lily-XXX files to directory dir, link into ‘--output’ directory. Use this option to save building time for documents in different directories which share a lot of identical snippets.


Set the output verbosity of the invoked lilypond calls to loglevel. Possible values are NONE, ERROR, WARNING, BASIC_PROGRESS, PROGRESS, INFO (default) and DEBUG. If this option is not used, and the environment variable LILYPOND_LOGLEVEL is set, its value is used as the loglevel.


Format Texinfo output so that Info will look for images of music in dir.


Run executable prog instead of latex. This is useful if your document is processed with xelatex, for example.


Pad EPS boxes by this much. amount is measured in millimeters, and is 3.0 by default. This option should be used if the lines of music stick out of the right margin.

The width of a tightly clipped system can vary, due to notation elements that stick into the left margin, such as bar numbers and instrument names. This option will shorten each line and move each line to the right by the same amount.

-P command

Process LilyPond snippets using command. The default command is lilypond. lilypond-book will not ‘--filter’ and ‘--process’ at the same time.


Create PDF files for use with PDFLaTeX.


By default, output is displayed on the terminal. This option redirects all output to log files in the same directory as the source files.


Write snippet output files with the same base name as their source file. This option works only for snippets included with lilypondfile and only if directories implied by ‘--output-dir’ and ‘--lily-output-dir’ options are different.


Be verbose. This is equivalent to --loglevel=DEBUG.


Print version information.

Known issues and warnings

The Texinfo command @pagesizes is not interpreted. Similarly, LaTeX commands that change margins and line widths after the preamble are ignored.

Only the first \score of a LilyPond block is processed.


[1] Note that PDFLaTeX and LaTeX may not be both usable to compile any LaTeX document, that is why we explain the two ways.

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LilyPond — Usage v2.21.4 (development-branch).