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MAN(7) Linux Programmer's Manual MAN(7)


     man - macros to format man pages


     groff -Tascii -man file ...
     groff -Tps -man file ...
     man [section] title


     This manual page explains the groff an.tmac macro package (often called
     the man macro package).  This macro package should be used by  develop-
     ers when writing or porting man pages for Linux.  It is fairly compati-
     ble with other versions of this macro package,  so  porting  man  pages
     should  not  be  a  major  problem  (exceptions  include  the NET-2 BSD
     release, which uses a totally different macro package called mdoc;  see
     Note  that  NET-2  BSD  mdoc man pages can be used with groff simply by
     specifying the -mdoc option instead of  the  -man  option.   Using  the
     -mandoc  option is, however, recommended, since this will automatically
     detect which macro package is in use.
     For conventions that should be employed when writing man pages for  the
     Linux man-pages package, see man-pages(7).
 Title line
     The  first  command  in a man page (after comment lines, that is, lines
     that start with .\") should be
            .TH title section date source manual
     For details of the arguments that should be supplied to the TH command,
     see man-pages(7).
     Note  that  BSD mdoc-formatted pages begin with the Dd command, not the
     TH command.
     Sections are started with .SH followed by the heading name.
     The only mandatory heading is NAME, which should be the  first  section
     and  be followed on the next line by a one-line description of the pro-
            .SH NAME
            item \- description
     It is extremely important that this format is followed, and that  there
     is  a  backslash  before  the  single dash which follows the item name.
     This syntax is used by the mandb(8) program to  create  a  database  of
     short  descriptions  for  the  whatis(1) and apropos(1) commands.  (See
     lexgrog(1) for further details on the syntax of the NAME section.)
     For a list of other sections that might appear in a  manual  page,  see
     The commands to select the type face are:
     .B  Bold
     .BI Bold alternating with italics (especially useful for function spec-
     .BR Bold alternating with Roman (especially  useful  for  referring  to
         other manual pages)
     .I  Italics
     .IB Italics alternating with bold
     .IR Italics alternating with Roman
     .RB Roman alternating with bold
     .RI Roman alternating with italics
     .SB Small alternating with bold
     .SM Small (useful for acronyms)
     Traditionally,  each  command can have up to six arguments, but the GNU
     implementation removes this limitation (you might still want  to  limit
     yourself  to 6 arguments for portability's sake).  Arguments are delim-
     ited by spaces.  Double quotes can be used to specify an argument which
     contains  spaces.   All  of  the arguments will be printed next to each
     other without intervening spaces, so that the .BR command can  be  used
     to  specify  a word in bold followed by a mark of punctuation in Roman.
     If no arguments are given, the command is applied to the following line
     of text.
 Other macros and strings
     Below  are  other relevant macros and predefined strings.  Unless noted
     otherwise, all macros cause a break (end the  current  line  of  text).
     Many of these macros set or use the "prevailing indent."  The "prevail-
     ing indent" value is set by any  macro  with  the  parameter  i  below;
     macros  may  omit i in which case the current prevailing indent will be
     used.  As a result, successive indented paragraphs  can  use  the  same
     indent  without  respecifying the indent value.  A normal (nonindented)
     paragraph resets the prevailing indent value to its default value  (0.5
     inches).  By default, a given indent is measured in ens; try to use ens
     or ems as units for indents, since these will automatically  adjust  to
     font size changes.  The other key macro definitions are:
 Normal paragraphs
     .LP      Same as .PP (begin a new paragraph).
     .P       Same as .PP (begin a new paragraph).
     .PP      Begin a new paragraph and reset prevailing indent.
 Relative margin indent
     .RS i    Start  relative  margin indent: moves the left margin i to the
              right (if i is omitted, the prevailing indent value is  used).
              A  new  prevailing  indent is set to 0.5 inches.  As a result,
              all following paragraph(s) will be indented until  the  corre-
              sponding .RE.
     .RE      End  relative margin indent and restores the previous value of
              the prevailing indent.
 Indented paragraph macros
     .HP i    Begin paragraph with a hanging indent (the first line  of  the
              paragraph  is at the left margin of normal paragraphs, and the
              rest of the paragraph's lines are indented).
     .IP x i  Indented paragraph with optional hanging tag.  If the tag x is
              omitted,  the entire following paragraph is indented by i.  If
              the tag x is provided, it is hung at the  left  margin  before
              the following indented paragraph (this is just like .TP except
              the tag is included with the command instead of being  on  the
              following  line).   If the tag is too long, the text after the
              tag will be moved down to the next line (text will not be lost
              or  garbled).   For  bulleted  lists, use this macro with \(bu
              (bullet) or \(em (em dash) as the tag, and for numbered lists,
              use the number or letter followed by a period as the tag; this
              simplifies translation to other formats.
     .TP i    Begin paragraph with hanging tag.  The tag  is  given  on  the
              next  line, but its results are like those of the .IP command.
 Hypertext link macros
     .UR url
            Insert a hypertext link to the URI (URL) url, with all  text  up
            to the following .UE macro as the link text.
     .UE    [trailer]  Terminate  the  link text of the preceding .UR macro,
            with the optional trailer (if present, usually a closing  paren-
            thesis  and/or  end-of-sentence punctuation) immediately follow-
            ing.  For non-HTML output devices (e.g., man -Tutf8),  the  link
            text  is  followed  by the URL in angle brackets; if there is no
            link text, the URL is printed as its own link  text,  surrounded
            by  angle brackets.  (Angle brackets may not be available on all
            output devices.)  For the HTML output device, the link  text  is
            hyperlinked  to  the  URL;  if there is no link text, the URL is
            printed as its own link text.
     These macros have been supported since GNU Troff 1.20 (2009-01-05)  and
     Heirloom Doctools Troff since 160217 (2016-02-17).
 Miscellaneous macros
     .DT      Reset  tabs to default tab values (every 0.5 inches); does not
              cause a break.
     .PD d    Set  inter-paragraph  vertical  distance  to  d  (if  omitted,
              d=0.4v); does not cause a break.
     .SS t    Subheading  t  (like  .SH,  but used for a subsection inside a
 Predefined strings
     The man package has the following predefined strings:
     \*R    Registration Symbol: (R)
     \*S    Change to default font size
     \*(Tm  Trademark Symbol: (TM)
     \*(lq  Left angled double quote: "
     \*(rq  Right angled double quote: "
 Safe subset
     Although technically man is a troff macro package, in reality  a  large
     number  of  other tools process man page files that don't implement all
     of troff's abilities.  Thus, it's best to avoid some  of  troff's  more
     exotic  abilities  where  possible  to permit these other tools to work
     correctly.  Avoid using the various troff preprocessors (if  you  must,
     go  ahead and use tbl(1), but try to use the IP and TP commands instead
     for two-column tables).  Avoid using  computations;  most  other  tools
     can't  process them.  Use simple commands that are easy to translate to
     other formats.  The following troff macros  are  believed  to  be  safe
     (though  in many cases they will be ignored by translators): \", ., ad,
     bp, br, ce, de, ds, el, ie, if, fi, ft, hy, ig, in, na, ne, nf, nh, ps,
     so, sp, ti, tr.
     You may also use many troff escape sequences (those sequences beginning
     with \).  When you need to include the backslash  character  as  normal
     text, use \e.  Other sequences you may use, where x or xx are any char-
     acters and N is any digit, include: \', \`, \-, \., \", \%, \*x, \*(xx,
     \(xx,  \$N,  \nx,  \n(xx,  \fx,  and  \f(xx.   Avoid  using  the escape
     sequences for drawing graphics.
     Do not use the optional parameter for bp (break page).  Use only  posi-
     tive  values  for  sp (vertical space).  Don't define a macro (de) with
     the same name as a macro in this or the mdoc macro package with a  dif-
     ferent  meaning;  it's  likely that such redefinitions will be ignored.
     Every positive indent (in) should be paired with  a  matching  negative
     indent  (although  you  should  be using the RS and RE macros instead).
     The condition test (if,ie) should only have 't' or 'n'  as  the  condi-
     tion.  Only translations (tr) that can be ignored should be used.  Font
     changes (ft and the \f escape sequence) should only have the values  1,
     2,  3,  4,  R,  I, B, P, or CW (the ft command may also have no parame-
     If you use capabilities beyond these, check the  results  carefully  on
     several tools.  Once you've confirmed that the additional capability is
     safe, let the maintainer of this document know about the  safe  command
     or sequence that should be added to this list.




     By all means include full URLs (or URIs) in the text itself; some tools
     such as man2html(1) can automatically turn them into  hypertext  links.
     You  can  also  use  the  UR and UE macros to identify links to related
     information.  If you include URLs, use the full URL  (e.g.,  to  ensure
     that tools can automatically find the URLs.
     Tools processing these files should open the file and examine the first
     nonwhitespace character.  A period (.)  or  single  quote  (')  at  the
     beginning of a line indicates a troff-based file (such as man or mdoc).
     A left angle bracket (<) indicates an SGML/XML-based file (such as HTML
     or  Docbook).   Anything else suggests simple ASCII text (e.g., a "cat-
     man" result).
     Many man pages begin with '\" followed by a space and a list of charac-
     ters, indicating how the page is to be preprocessed.  For portability's
     sake to non-troff translators we recommend that you  avoid  using  any-
     thing other than tbl(1), and Linux can detect that automatically.  How-
     ever, you might want to include this information so your man  page  can
     be  handled  by other (less capable) systems.  Here are the definitions
     of the preprocessors invoked by these characters:
     e  eqn(1)
     g  grap(1)
     p  pic(1)
     r  refer(1)
     t  tbl(1)
     v  vgrind(1)


     Most of the macros describe formatting (e.g., font  type  and  spacing)
     instead  of marking semantic content (e.g., this text is a reference to
     another page), compared to formats like mdoc and DocBook (even HTML has
     more  semantic  markings).   This situation makes it harder to vary the
     man format for different media, to make the formatting consistent for a
     given media, and to automatically insert cross-references.  By sticking
     to the safe subset described above, it should  be  easier  to  automate
     transitioning to a different reference page format in the future.
     The Sun macro TX is not implemented.


     apropos(1),   groff(1),  lexgrog(1),  man(1),  man2html(1),  whatis(1),
     groff_man(7), groff_www(7), man-pages(7), mdoc(7), mdoc.samples(7)


     This page is part of release 4.16 of the Linux  man-pages  project.   A
     description  of  the project, information about reporting bugs, and the
     latest    version    of    this    page,    can     be     found     at

Linux 2017-09-15 MAN(7)

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