Lua API Reference

Quarto v1.2 Required

If you are using or developing extensions you should update to Quarto v1.2, which includes significant improvements to the extension API. Many extensions are also likely to require Quarto v1.2.


This article provides documentation on the standard APIs available when implementing Lua filters and shortcodes. There are three major sets of APIs available:

  • Lua Base API—Base functions provided for string handling, pattern matching, table manipulation, and file input and output.

  • Pandoc Lua API—Core API provided by Pandoc for filter development, and includes both core AST types (e.g. pandoc.Div, pandoc.CodeBlock, etc.) as well as a wide variety of helper functions for common tasks.

  • Quarto Lua API—Additional functions used for debugging, format detection, encoding (e.g. JSON), and adding dependencies to documents (e.g. JavaScript libraries or LaTeX packages).

To get started with programming in Lua and learn about some recommended tools and workflow, see the article on Lua Development.

Lua Base API

The Lua standard library provides core functions for low-level string, math, table, and file operations. Here we provide links to a few of the more useful standard libaries (complete documentation can be found in the Lua Reference Manual).

LIbrary Description
string This library provides generic functions for string manipulation, such as finding and extracting substrings, and pattern matching.
utf8 This library provides basic support for UTF-8 encoding.
table This library provides generic functions for table manipulation.
math This library provides basic mathematical functions.
io, file The I/O library provides two different styles for file manipulation: one uses implicit file handles and the other explicit handles.
os Date/time, locales, environment variables, etc.

Pandoc Lua API

Complete documentation for the Pandoc Lua API can be found in the Lua Filters article available on the Pandoc website. Here are the various components of the API along with links to their reference documentation:

Lua Module Description
pandoc (ast) Constructors for document tree elements (e.g. pandoc.Div(), pandoc.Strong(), etc.) as well as core components (e.g. pandoc.Attr())
pandoc (functions) Functions to parse text in a given format, filter and modify a sub-tree, and run child processes.
pandoc.text UTF-8 aware text manipulation functions (e.g. upper(), lower(), etc.)
pandoc.List This module defines pandoc’s list type. It comes with useful methods and convenience function (e.g find_if(), includes(), filter(), map(), etc.)
pandoc.utils Internal pandoc functions and utility functions (e.g. blocks_to_inlines(), stringify(), citeproc(), etc.)
pandoc.path Module for file path manipulations (e.g. is_absolute(), is_relative(), join(), etc.
pandoc.system Access to system information and functionality (e.g. get_working_directory(), list_directory(), etc.
pandoc.mediabag Access to pandoc’s media storage. The “media bag” is used when pandoc is called with the --extract-media or (for HTML only) --embed-resources option.
pandoc.template Compile and access defualt pandoc templates (e.g. compile())
pandoc.types Constructors for types which are not part of the pandoc AST (e.g. Version())

Quarto Lua API

Utility Functions

Various utility functions are provided, the most of important of which is the quarto.utils.dump() function (indispensable for debugging).

Function Description
quarto.utils.dump(obj) Dump a text representation of the passed object to stdout.
quarto.utils.resolve_path(path) Compute the full path to a file that is installed alongside your extension’s Lua script. This is useful for internal resources that your filter needs but should not be visible to the user.

For example, you can dump an element passed to a filter function as follows:

function Div(el)

Note that newer versions of Quarto (v1.1.251 and higher) include the pandoc-lua-logging library, which should be used in preference to the dump function. For example:

function Div(el)

Format Detection

Extensions will often need to detect the current format to create custom content depending on the target output medium. The quarto.doc.is_format() function

Function Description
quarto.doc.is_format(name) Detect if the current format matches name.
quarto.doc.has_bootstrap() Query whether Bootstrap CSS is available within the current document (it is by default for standard html documents but this may have been overridden by e.g. theme: none).

The name parameter can match an exact Pandoc format name (e.g. docx, latex, etc. or can match based on an alias that groups commonly targeted formats together. The following values format aliases are handled specially by quarto.doc.is_format():

Alias Formats
latex latex, pdf
pdf latex, pdf
epub epub*
html html*, epub*, revealjs
html:js html*, revealjs
markdown markdown*, commonmark*, gfm, markua

Note that the html:js alias indicates that the target format is capable of executing JavaScript (this maps to all HTML formats save for ePub).

For example, here we check for PDF and HTML output:

if quarto.doc.is_format("pdf") then
  -- pdf specific output
elseif quarto.doc.is_format("html") then
  -- html specific output
  -- output for other formats

For LaTeX output, you may need to additionally detect which citation utility and pdf engine are being used for the current render. You can use these functions to do that detection:

Function Description
quarto.doc.cite_method() Returns a string (citeproc, natbib, or biblatex) indicating the cite method in use.
quarto.doc.pdf_engine() Returns a string (pdflatex, xelatex, lualatex, or tectonic) indicating the PDF engine being used to render the document.


Sometimes extensions need to inject content into the target document. There are three locations that content can be included (pass one of these locations as the first argument of the include functions):

Location Description
in-header In the header of the document (HTML <head> tag or LaTeX preamble)
before-body Before the document body
after-body After the document body

Note that the included content should use the raw target format (e.g. HTML or LaTeX) rather than markdown. You can use these functions to include text or the contents of a file:

Function Description
quarto.doc.include_text(location, text) Include text at the specified location (in-header, before-body, or after-body)
quarto.doc.include_file(location, file) Include file at the specified location (in-header, before-body, or after-body). The path to the file should relative to the Lua script calling this function.

For example the following code includes an HTML file after the body in the rendered document:

quarto.doc.include_file("after-body", "comments.html")


Extensions will sometimes want to add external dependencies (for example, a JavaScript library and related CSS, or the usage of a LaTeX package). This can be accomplished with the following functions:

Function Description
quarto.doc.add_html_dependency(dep) Add an HTML dependency (additional resources and content) to a document. See docs on the HTML Dependencies below for additional details.
quarto.doc.attach_to_dependency(name, attach) Attach a file to an existing dependency. attach is a file path relative to the Lua filter or table with `path` and `name` for renaming the file as its copied.
quarto.doc.use_latex_package(pkg, opt) Adds a \usepackage statement to the LaTeX output (along an options string specified in opt)
quarto.doc.add_format_resource(path) Add a format resource to the document. Format resources will be copied into the directory next to the rendered output. This is useful, for example, if your format references a bst or cls file which must be copied into the LaTeX output directory.

For example, here we add a LaTeX package dependency:


HTML Dependencies

HTML Dependencies can bundle together JavaScript, CSS, and even arbitrary content to inject into the <head> of the document. These dependencies have a name and a version, which is used to ensure that the same dependency isn’t bundled into the document more than once.

The dep object passed to quarto.doc.add_html_dependency() has the following fields:

Field Description
name Unique name. Required.
version Version number (as a string). Required.
scripts List of scripts to include (paths can be absolute or relative to the Lua file calling the function). Scripts can be either a simple path or a script object.
stylesheets List of CSS style-sheets to include (paths can be absolute or relative to the Lua file calling the function). Stylesheets can either be a simple path or a stylesheet object
links List of link tags to add to the document. Each tag should be a table with rel and ref (required) and optionally type
resources Additional files to copy to the input directory (each resource is an object with name (target file name in input directory) and path (source file name relative to Lua script).
serviceworkers JavaScript serviceworker files that should be copied to the root output directory (can be a simple string file name or table with `path` and `name` for renaming the file as its copied).
meta Table of optional key = value meta tags to insert into the document <head>
head Arbitrary string to include in document <head>

For example, here we add a dependency to a JavaScript library:

  name = "glightbox",
  version = "3.2.0",
  scripts = {"glightbox.min.js"},
  stylesheets = {"glightbox.min.css"}

Script Object

The easiest way to specify scripts is with simple paths. However, in some cases you may need to add attributes to the <script> tag or specify that the script should go after the body. In those cases pass a script object:

Field Description
path Path to the script (relative to the calling Lua script)
attribs Table with key = value attributes to add to the <script> tag
afterBody Specify that the <script> tag should be inserted after the body

For example, here update the previous example to add an integrity attribute to the script:

  name = "glightbox",
  version = "3.2.0",
  scripts = {
    { path = "glightbox.min.js ", attribs = {integrity = "R9GqQ8K/uxy9rx"} }
  stylesheets = {"glightbox.min.css"}

Stylesheet Object

The easiest way to specify stylesheets is with simple paths. However, in some cases you may need to add attributes to the <link> tag generated for the stylesheet. In those cases pass a stylesheet object:

Field Description
path Path to the stylesheet (relative to the calling Lua script)
attribs Table with key = value attributes to add to the <link> tag

For example, here we update the previous example to add an integrity attribute to the stylesheet:

  name = "glightbox",
  version = "3.2.0",
  scripts = {
      path = "glightbox.min.js ", 
      attribs = {integrity = "R9GqQ8K/uxy9rx"} 
  stylesheets = {
      path = "glightbox.min.css ", 
      attribs = {integrity = "GYl1kPzQho1wx"} 

JSON Encoding

Quarto includes a copy of json.lua. a lightweight JSON library for Lua. You can access the JSON functions as follows:

Function Description
quarto.json.encode(input) Encode a Lua table into a JSON string.
quarto.json.decode(str) Parse a JSON string into a Lua table.

For example, here we encode and then decode a table:

local json = quarto.json.encode({foo = "bar"})
local obj = quarto.json.decode(json)

Base64 Encoding

Quarto includes a copy of lbase64, a pure Lua implementation of Base64 encoding. You can access the Base 64 encoding functions as follows:

Function Description
quarto.base64.encode(str) Encode a string into Base 64.
quarto.base64.decode(b64str) Decode a Base 64 string.