Panflute: pandoc filters made simple

Panflute is a Python package that makes Pandoc filters fun to write. (Installation)

It is a pythonic alternative to John MacFarlane’s pandocfilters, from which it is heavily inspired.

To use it, write a function that works on Pandoc elements and call it through run_filter:

from panflute import *

def increase_header_level(elem, doc):
    if type(elem) == Header:
        if elem.level < 6:
            elem.level += 1
            return [] #  Delete headers already in level 6

def main(doc=None):
    return run_filter(increase_header_level, doc=doc)

if __name__ == "__main__":


Our goal is to make writing pandoc filters as simple and clear as possible. Starting from pandocfilters, we make it pythonic, add error and type checking, and include batteries for common tasks. In more detail:

1. Pythonic

  • Elements are easier to modify. For instance, to change the level of a header, you can do header.level += 1 instead of header['c'][0] += 1. To change the identifier, do header.identifier = 'spam' instead of header['c'][1][1] = 'spam'
  • Elements are easier to create. Thus, to create a header you can do Header(Str(The), Space, Str(Title), level=1, identifier=foo) instead of Header([1,["foo",[],[]],[{"t":"Str","c":"The"},{"t":"Space","c":[]},{"t":"Str","c":"Title"}])
  • You can navigate across elements. Thus, you can check if isinstance(elem.parent, Inline) or if type( == Space

2. Detects common mistakes

  • Check that the elements contain the correct types. Trying to create Para(‘text’) will give you the error “Para() element must contain Inlines but received a str()”, instead of just failing silently when running the filter.

3. Comes with batteries included

  • Convert markdown and other formatted strings into python objects or other formats, with the convert_text(text, input_format, output_format) function (which calls Pandoc internally)
  • Use code blocks to hold YAML options and other data (such as CSV) with yaml_filter(element, doc, tag, function).
  • Called external programs to fetch results with shell().
  • Modifying the entire document (e.g. moving all the figures and tables to the back of a PDF) is easy, thanks to the prepare and finalize options of run_filter, and to the replace_keyword function
  • Convenience elements such as TableRow and TableCell allow for easier filters.
  • Panflute can be run as a filter itself, in which case it will run all filters listed in the metadata field pandoc-filters.
  • Can use metadata as a dict of builtin-values instead of Panflute objects, with doc.get_metadata().

Examples of panflute filters

Ports of existing pandocfilter modules are in the github repo; additional and more advanced examples are in a separate repository.

Also, a comprehensive list of filters and other Pandoc extras should be available here in the future.

Alternative: filters based on pandocfilters

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