html2text - an advanced HTML-to-text converter



html2text − an advanced HTML−to−text converter


html2text -help
html2text -version
[ −check ] [ −debug−scanner ] [ −debug−parser ] [ −rcfile path ] [ −width width ] [ −o output-file ] [ −nobs ] [ −from_encoding encoding ] [ −to_encoding encoding ] [ −ascii ] [ −utf8 ] [ input-file ... ]


html2text reads HTML documents from the input-files, formats each of them into a stream of UTF-8 encoded characters, and writes the result to standard output (or into output-file, if the -o command line option is used).

If no input-files are specified on the command line, html2text reads from standard input. A dash as the input-file is an alternate way to specify standard input.

html2text understands all HTML 3.2 constructs, but can render only part of them due to the limitations of the text output format. However, the program attempts to provide good substitutes for the elements it cannot render. html2text parses HTML 4 input, too, but not always as successful as other HTML processors. It also accepts syntactically incorrect input, and attempts to interpret it "reasonably".

The way html2text formats the HTML documents is controlled by formatting properties read from an RC file. html2text attempts to read $HOME/.html2textrc (or the file specified by the -rcfile command line option); if that file cannot be read, html2text attempts to read /etc/html2textrc. If no RC file can be read (or if the RC file does not override all formatting properties), then "reasonable" defaults are assumed. The RC file format is described in the html2textrc(5) manual page.



By default, html2text uses UTF-8 for its output. Specifying this option, plain ASCII is used instead. Non−ASCII characters are rendered via iconv’s transliteration feature. As such this option is an alias for -to_encoding ASCII//TRANSLIT.


Assume both terminal and input stream are in UTF-8 mode. This is an alias for -from_encoding UTF-8 -to_encoding UTF-8.

−from_encoding encoding

Sets the encoding of the input file or stream to the given encoding. By default, html2text tries to obtain the encoding from the input file and uses ISO-8859-1 encoding as fallback. You might want to override the detection or fallback using this option. See iconv -l for a list of supported encodings.

−to_encoding encoding

Use the given encoding while writing output, instead of UTF-8. The same set of encodings as for the −from_encoding option can be used.


This option is for diagnostic purposes: The HTML document is only parsed and not processed otherwise. In this mode of operation, html2text will report on parse errors and scan errors, which it does not in other modes of operation. Note that parse and scan errors are not fatal for html2text, but may cause mis-interpretation of the HTML code and/or portions of the document being swallowed.


Let html2text report on the tokens being shifted, rules being applied, etc., while scanning the HTML document. This option is for diagnostic purposes.


Let html2text report on each lexical token scanned, while scanning the HTML document. This option is for diagnostic purposes.


Print command line summary and exit.


By default, html2text renders underlined letters with sequences like "underscore-backspace-character" and boldface letters like "character-backspace-character", which works fine when the output is piped into more(1), less(1), or similar. For other applications, or when redirecting the output into a file, it may be desirable not to render character attributes with such backspace sequences, which can be accomplished with this command line option.

−o output−file

Write the output to output−file instead of standard output. A dash as the output−file is an alternate way to specify the standard output.

−rcfile path

Attempt to read the file specified in path as RC file.


Tags all external links with a number between brackets ([num]), and produces a numbered list at the end of the document with all link targets.


Print program version and exit.

−width width

By default, html2text formats the HTML documents for a screen width of 79 characters. If redirecting the output into a file, or if your terminal has a width other than 80 characters, or if you just want to get an idea how html2text deals with large tables and different terminal widths, you may want to specify a different width.



System wide parser configuration file.


Personal parser configuration file, overrides the system wide values.


HTML 3.2 (HTML 3.2 Reference Specification −


html2text was written to convert HTML 3.2 documents. When using it with HTML 4 or even XHTML 1 documents, some constructs present only in these HTML versions might not be rendered.


html2text was written up to version 1.2.2 by Arno Unkrig <[email protected]> for GMRS Software GmbH, Unterschleissheim.

Up to version 1.3.2a, the maintainer was Martin Bayer <[email protected]>.

This version of html2text comes from Please use the GitHub page to file issues and improvements.


html2textrc(5), less(1), more(1)

Updated 2024-01-29 - |