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7 LaTeX usage

Asymptote comes with a convenient LaTeX style file asymptote.sty that makes LaTeX Asymptote-aware. Entering Asymptote code directly into the LaTeX source file, at the point where it is needed, keeps figures organized and avoids the need to invent new file names for each figure. Simply add the line \usepackage{asymptote} at the beginning of your file and enclose your Asymptote code within a \begin{asy}...\end{asy} environment. As with the LaTeX comment environment, the \end{asy} command must appear on a line by itself, with no trailing commands/comments. A blank line is not allowed after \begin{asy}.

The sample LaTeX file below, named latexusage.tex, can be run as follows:

latex latexusage
asy latexusage-*.asy
latex latexusage


pdflatex latexusage
asy latexusage-*.asy
pdflatex latexusage

To switch between using inline Asymptote code with latex and pdflatex you may first need to remove the files latexusage-*.tex.

An even better method for processing a LaTeX file with embedded Asymptote code is to use the latexmk utility from

after putting the contents of in a file latexmkrc in the same directory. The command

latexmk -pdf latexusage

will then call Asymptote automatically, recompiling only the figures that have changed. Since each figure is compiled in a separate system process, this method also tends to use less memory. To store the figures in a separate directory named asy, one can define


in latexusage.tex and put the contents of in a file latexmkrc in the same directory. External Asymptote code in filename.asy should be included with


so that latexmk will recognize when the code is changed. Note that latemk requires perl, available from

One can specify width, height, keepAspect, viewportwidth, viewportheight, attach, and inline. keyval-style options to the asy and asyinclude environments. Three-dimensional PRC files may either be embedded within the page (the default) or attached as annotated (but printable) attachments, using the attach option and the attachfile2 (or older attachfile) LaTeX package. The inline option generates inline LaTeX code instead of EPS or PDF files. This makes 2D LaTeX symbols visible to the \begin{asy}...\end{asy} environment. In this mode, Asymptote correctly aligns 2D LaTeX symbols defined outside of \begin{asy}...\end{asy}, but treats their size as zero; an optional second string can be given to Label to provide an estimate of the unknown label size.

Note that if the latex TeX engine is used with the inline option, labels might not show up in DVI viewers that cannot handle raw PostScript code. One can use dvips/dvipdf to produce PostScript/PDF output (we recommend using the modified version of dvipdf in the Asymptote patches directory, which accepts the dvips -z hyperdvi option).

Here now is latexusage.tex:


% Use this form to include EPS (latex) or PDF (pdflatex) files:

% Use this form with latex or pdflatex to include inline LaTeX code by default:

% Use this form with latex or pdflatex to create PDF attachments by default:

% Enable this line to support the attach option:


% Optional subdirectory for asy files (no spaces):

// Global Asymptote definitions can be put here.
import three;
// One can globally override the default toolbar settings here:
// settings.toolbar=true;

Here is a venn diagram produced with Asymptote, drawn to width 4cm:


pen colour1=red;
pen colour2=green;

pair z0=(0,0);
pair z1=(-1,0);
pair z2=(1,0);
real r=1.5;
path c1=circle(z1,r);
path c2=circle(z2,r);

picture intersection=new picture;



//draw("$\A$",box,z1);              // Requires [inline] package option.
//draw(Label("$\B$","$B$"),box,z2); // Requires [inline] package option.

pair z=(0,-2);
real m=3;
margin BigMargin=Margin(0,m*dot(unit(z1-z),unit(z0-z)));

draw(Label("$A\cap B$",0),conj(z)--z0,Arrow,BigMargin);
draw(Label("$A\cup B$",0),z--z0,Arrow,BigMargin);

%\caption{Venn diagram}\label{venn}

Each graph is drawn in its own environment. One can specify the width
and height to \LaTeX\ explicitly. This 3D example can be viewed
interactively either with Adobe Reader or Asymptote's fast OpenGL-based
renderer. To support {\tt latexmk}, 3D figures should specify
\verb+inline=true+. It is sometimes desirable to embed 3D files as annotated
attachments; this requires the \verb+attach=true+ option as well as the
\verb+attachfile2+ \LaTeX\ package.

One can also scale the figure to the full line width:
pair z0=(0,0);
pair z1=(2,0);
pair z2=(5,0);
pair zf=z1+0.75*(z2-z1);

label("$\hat{\ }$",zf,0.2*S,fontsize(24pt)+blue);

pair s=-0.2*I;
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