This document is a roadmap to the Ghostscript documentation. After looking through it, if you want to install Ghostscript and not only use it, we recommend you read how to install Ghostscript, and how to compile Ghostscript from source code (which is necessary before installing it on Unix and VMS systems).

Table of contents

  • What is Ghostscript?
  • Document roadmap by theme
  • Which document contains what?

  • Document roadmap by theme

    What should I read if I'm a new user?

    • how to use Ghostscript. This includes both a quickstart introduction to the commandline version and more extensive reference material.
    • detailed information about specific devices that Ghostscript can use for output
    • more detailed information about how to use Ghostscript under Unix with lpr as a filter for printing
    • for information about known problems or to report a new one, please visit but remember that free versions of Ghostscript come with with NO WARRANTY and NO SUPPORT

    GPL and commercial Ghostscript

    GPL Ghostscript, Artifex Ghostscript and AFPL Ghostscript are different releases.

    If you run into any questions, or if you are going to be using Ghostscript extensively, you should at least skim, and probably eventually read:

    Before building Ghostscript

    If you are going to compile Ghostscript from source, rather than just use an executable you got from somewhere, you may want to read:

    What should I read if I'm not a new user?

    If you have already used Ghostscript, when you receive a new release you should begin by reading this file, then

    • News, for incompatible changes and new features in the current release;
    • if you wish, History#.htm (currently History9.htm), for changes in the current and earlier releases.

    What if I'm a developer?

    If you are going to do any development on or with Ghostscript at all, you should at least look at

    If you are going to write a new driver for Ghostscript, you should read

    • the guide to the Ghostscript source code
    • the interface between Ghostscript and device drivers
    • If you are considering distributing GPL Ghostscript in conjunction with a commercial product, you should read the license carefully, and you should also read

      If you intend to use Ghostscript in the form of a dynamic link library (DLL) under OS/2 or Microsoft Windows or in the form of shared object under Linux, read

      If you want to use Ghostscript as part of another program--as a callable PostScript language interpreter--and not as a DLL or as a self-contained executable application, you should begin by reading

      • the source file imain.h, the documented API for Ghostscript not as a DLL

      or if you are going to use only the Ghostscript graphics library,

    What if I'm writing documentation?

    If you are editing or adding to Ghostscript's existing documentation in HTML format, or writing a new document, you should contact us on our IRC channel or the gs-devel mailing list for guidance, links to those are on:

    Presence on the World Wide Web

    Ghostscript's home page

    Ghostscript has a home page on the World Wide Web with helpful information such as the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

    Adobe PostScript, Encapsulated PostScript, and PDF reference documentation

    Adobe makes a wealth of technical documentation available over the Web, including the PostScript Language Reference Manual (Third Edition); the Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) Format Specification version 3, including Encapsulated PostScript Interchange (EPSI) format; the PDF Reference manuals. The Acrobat SDK contains pdfmark and Acrobat Distiller parameters documentation. Some of these documents are also available at Adobe's ftp site, but not necessarily under the same filenames.

    Other material on the WWW

    Much other material about Ghostscript is available on the World Wide Web, both as web pages and as archived Usenet and mailing list discussions. Use the well-known search engines to find such material.

    Which document contains what?

    Here is the list in alphabetic order of Ghostscript documentation, with explanations of the contents.

    On MS-Windows and OS/2, Ghostscript is compiled as a dynamic link library (DLL). On Linux, Ghostscript can be compiled as a shared object. This describes how to use it. For developers.
    Guidelines and style for C coding, which you should follow if, for example, you write a new driver or add or change something in Ghostscript. For developers.
    The conditions under which Ghostscript may be distributed in a commercial context. See also the GNU Affero General Public License.
    On OS/2, MS Windows-16 and MS Windows-32 platforms, Ghostscript is compiled as a dynamic link library (DLL). This describes how to use it. For developers. This DLL interface is obsolete. Use API.htm instead.
    Code orientation for developers. Contains a detailed breakdown of the source files by functional group, and overviews of the major architectural features and services.
    Documention for deprecated devices and features. Features described here will be removed in future versions of Ghostscript.
    Detailed information about some specific devices for which Ghostscript can produce output. Run "gs -h" to see which devices a particular version of Ghostscript is built to use.
    Describes the interface between Ghostscript and device drivers. If you do this, you should also read and use the C style and coding guidelines. Necessary to develop a new driver. For developers.
    All about fonts freely available for Ghostscript, and how to add and use new fonts. Also describes how to use Ghostscript fonts as X Windows fonts. For both users and developers.
    The history of changes in all Ghostscript releases:
    History9.htm for Ghostscript versions 9.n
    History8.htm for Ghostscript versions 8.n
    History7.htm for Ghostscript versions 7.n
    History6.htm for Ghostscript versions 6.n
    History5.htm for Ghostscript versions 5.n
    History4.htm for Ghostscript versions 4.n
    History3.htm for Ghostscript versions 3.n
    History2.htm for Ghostscript versions 2.n
    History1.htm for Ghostscript versions 1.n
    How to install Ghostscript. See also how to build it.
    Description of operators that are for internal/developer use only.
    The relationship between the Ghostscript interpreter and the PostScript language as defined by Adobe.
    A description of the Ghostscript library, a set of procedures to implement the graphics and filtering capabilities that are primitive operations in the PostScript language and in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). For developers.
    How to build Ghostscript executables from the source code. See also how to install it. It's not necessary to be a highly experienced developer to build or install Ghostscript, but some experience is needed.
    A brief description of the latest release or pre-release of Ghostscript, and a list of any incompatible changes in it. Changes in older releases are described in the history files "History*.htm", which are usually installed in the documentation directory. Run "gs -h" to see where that is.
    The guidelines and style for postscript coding in Ghostscript. Some of Ghostscript is implemented in the postscript language itself, and various utilities and examples are distributed with it. You should follow these guidelines if you're extending or modifying those files. For developers.
    Detailed information on how to use Ghostscript through ps2epsi to convert PostScript to Adobe Encapsulated PostScript Interchange (EPSI) format.
    Detailed information on how to use Ghostscript, GhostPCL and GhostXPS to convert PostScript, PDF, XPS, PCL or PXL input to Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), Adobe PostScript Level 2, Adobe Encapsulated PostScript Level 2, Open XML (XPS) or PCL-XL.
    A description of the PostScript files (other than font files) distributed with Ghostscript, including initialization routines, utility programs, and sample printable files.
    Contains a table of "third party libraries" (that is, code from outwith the Ghostscript/GhostPDL project) that we import to our project and supply in our releases. Including the purpose they serve, the version we QA and ship, the license under which the code distributed and the URL for the "upstream" project.
    The GNU Affero General Public License, which states the conditions for using and redistributing GPL Ghostscript.
    This document.
    A description of how to prepare and test a Ghostscript release. Of interest only to developers who want to create new Ghostscript versions for distribution.
    A guide to the Ghostscript source code, for development and debugging.
    How to set up Ghostscript as a Unix lpr filter.
    Detailed instructions on how to use Ghostscript, including such matters as designating an output device; choosing a default paper size; how Ghostscript finds files, including font files; how it uses environment variables; notes on specific platforms, including the X Window System; and command-line options.

Copyright © 2000-2021 Artifex Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

This software is provided AS-IS with no warranty, either express or implied. This software is distributed under license and may not be copied, modified or distributed except as expressly authorized under the terms of that license. Refer to licensing information at or contact Artifex Software, Inc., 1305 Grant Avenue - Suite 200, Novato, CA 94945, U.S.A., +1(415)492-9861, for further information.

Ghostscript version 9.54.0, 30 March 2021