About Ipe files

Ipe 7 creates PDF files. These files can be used in any way that PDF files are used, such as viewed with a PDF viewer, edited with a PDF editor, or included in Latex/Pdflatex documents. However, Ipe cannot read arbitrary PDF files, only files it has created itself. This is because files created by Ipe contain a special hidden stream that describes the Ipe objects. (So if you edit your Ipe-generated PDF file in a different program such as Adobe Acrobat or MacOS Preview, Ipe will not be able to read the file again afterwards.)

You decide in what format to store a figure when saving it for the first time. Ipe gives you the option of saving with extensions pdf (PDF), and ipe (XML). Files saved with extension ipe are XML files and contain no PDF information. The precise XML format used by Ipe is documented later in this manual. XML files can be read by any XML-aware parser, and it is easy for other programs to generate XML output to be read by Ipe. You probably don’t want to keep your figures in XML format, but it is excellent for communicating with other programs, and for converting figures between programs.

There are a few interesting uses for Ipe documents:

Figures for Latex documents

Ipe was originally written to make it easy to make figures for Latex documents. If you are not familiar with including figures in Latex, you can find details in the Using Ipe figures in Latex section.


Ipe is not a presentation tool like Powerpoint or Keynote. An Ipe presentation is simply a PDF file that has been created by Ipe, and which you present during your talk using any PDF reader (for instance Acrobat Reader).

However, Ipe now comes with a presentation tool IpePresenter to make presentations more comfortable. The Presentations section explains Ipe features meant for making presentations.

SVG files

Figures in SVG format can be used to include scalable figures in web pages. Ipe does not save in SVG format directly, but the tool iperender allows you to convert an Ipe document to SVG format. This conversion is one-way, although the auxiliary tool svgtoipe also allows you to convert SVG figures to Ipe format.


Sometimes Ipe can be useful for creating bitmap images. Again, the iperender tool can render an Ipe document as a bitmap in PNG format.