Section (7) man
man — macros to format man pages
groff −Tascii −man ... groff −Tps −man ... man
This manual page explains the groff an.tmac macro package (often
macro package). This macro package should be used by
developers when writing or porting man pages for Linux. It is
fairly compatible 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 mdoc(7)).
Note that NET-2 BSD mdoc man pages can be used with
groff simply by
instead of the
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
The first command in a man page (after comment lines,
that is, lines that start with
.\) should be
.THtitle section date source manual
For details of the arguments that should be supplied to
TH command, see man-pages(7).
Note that BSD mdoc-formatted pages begin with the
Dd command, not
Sections are started with
.SH followed by the heading
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 program:
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 man-pages(7).
The commands to select the type face are:
Bold alternating with italics (especially useful for function specifications)
Bold alternating with Roman (especially useful for referring to other manual pages)
Italics alternating with bold
Italics alternating with Roman
Roman alternating with bold
Roman alternating with italics
Small alternating with bold
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_zsingle_quotesz_s sake). Arguments are delimited
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 prevailing 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:
.PP(begin a new paragraph).
.PP(begin a new paragraph).
Begin a new paragraph and reset prevailing indent.
Relative margin indent
Start relative margin indent: moves the left margin
ito the right (if
iis 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 corresponding
End relative margin indent and restores the previous value of the prevailing indent.
Indented paragraph macros
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_zsingle_quotesz_s lines are indented).
Indented paragraph with optional hanging tag. If the tag
xis omitted, the entire following paragraph is indented by
i. If the tag
xis provided, it is hung at the left margin before the following indented paragraph (this is just like
.TPexcept 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.
Begin paragraph with hanging tag. The tag is given on the next line, but its results are like those of the
Hypertext link macros
Insert a hypertext link to the URI (URL)
url, with all text up to the following
.UEmacro as the link text.
- .UE [ trailer ]
Terminate the link text of the preceding
.URmacro, with the optional
trailer(if present, usually a closing parenthesis and/or end-of-sentence punctuation) immediately following. 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).
Reset tabs to default tab values (every 0.5 inches); does not cause a break.
Set inter-paragraph vertical distance to d (if omitted, d=0.4v); does not cause a break.
.SH, but used for a subsection inside a section).
package has the following predefined strings:
Registration Symbol: ®
Change to default font size
Trademark Symbol: ™
Left angled double quote: «
Right angled double quote: »
man is a troff macro
package, in reality a large number of other tools process
man page files that don_zsingle_quotesz_t implement all of troff_zsingle_quotesz_s
abilities. Thus, it_zsingle_quotesz_s best to avoid some of troff_zsingle_quotesz_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
TP commands instead for two-column
tables). Avoid using computations; most other tools can_zsingle_quotesz_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):
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 characters and N is any
f(xx. Avoid using the
escape sequences for drawing graphics.
Do not use the optional parameter for
bp (break page). Use only
positive values for
sp (vertical space). Don_zsingle_quotesz_t
define a macro (
de) with the same name as a
macro in this or the mdoc macro package with a different
meaning; it_zsingle_quotesz_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
RE macros instead). The condition test
only have _zsingle_quotesz_t_zsingle_quotesz_ or _zsingle_quotesz_n_zsingle_quotesz_ as the condition. 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 parameters).
If you use capabilities beyond these, check the results carefully on several tools. Once you_zsingle_quotesz_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
UE macros to identify links to related
information. If you include URLs, use the full URL (e.g.,
http://www.kernel.org 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 (_zsingle_quotesz_) 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 catman result).
Many man pages begin with
_zsingle_quotesz_\ followed by a space and a
list of characters, indicating how the page is to be
preprocessed. For portability_zsingle_quotesz_s sake to non-troff translators
we recommend that you avoid using anything other than
tbl(1), and Linux can detect
that automatically. However, 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:
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
apropos(1), groff(1), lexgrog(1), man(1), man2html(1), whatis(1), groff_man(7), groff_www(7), man-pages(7), mdoc(7)
This page is part of release 5.04 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
(C) Copyright 1992-1999 Rickard E. Faith and David A. Wheeler
(faithcs.unc.edu and dwheelerida.org)
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.
Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the
entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.
Since the Linux kernel and libraries are constantly changing, this
manual page may be incorrect or out-of-date. The author(s) assume no
responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from
the use of the information contained herein. The author(s) may not
have taken the same level of care in the production of this manual,
which is licensed free of charge, as they might when working
Formatted or processed versions of this manual, if unaccompanied by
the source, must acknowledge the copyright and authors of this work.
Modified Sun Jul 25 11:06:05 1993 by Rik Faith (faithcs.unc.edu)
Modified Sat Jun 8 00:39:52 1996 by aeb
Modified Wed Jun 16 23:00:00 1999 by David A. Wheeler (dwheelerida.org)
Modified Thu Jul 15 12:43:28 1999 by aeb
Modified Sun Jan 6 18:26:25 2002 by Martin Schulze <joeyinfodrom.org>
Modified Tue Jul 27 20:12:02 2004 by Colin Watson <cjwatsondebian.org>
2007-05-30, mtk: various rewrites and moved much text to new man-pages.7.