man(7) — Linux manual page


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

NAME         top

       man - macros to format man pages

SYNOPSIS         top

       groff -Tascii -man file ...

       groff -Tps -man file ...

       man [section] title

DESCRIPTION         top

       This manual page explains the groff an.tmac macro package (often
       called the man 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
       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

              .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

       .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
       delimited by spaces.  Double quotes can be used to specify an
       argument which contains spaces.  For the macros that produce
       alternating type faces, 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:

   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 corresponding .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

       .TP i    Begin paragraph with hanging tag.  The tag is given on the
                next line, but its results are like those of the .IP

   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 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).

   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: ®

       \*S    Change to default font size

       \*(Tm  Trademark Symbol: ™

       \*(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 characters 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
       positive 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 different 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 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'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.

FILES         top


NOTES         top

       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 "catman" result).

       Many man pages begin with '\" followed by a space and a list of char‐
       acters, indicating how the page is to be preprocessed.  For portabil‐
       ity'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 defini‐
       tions 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)

BUGS         top

       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.

SEE ALSO         top

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

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of release 5.09 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                            2020-11-01                           MAN(7)

Pages that refer to this page: dh_installman(1)groffer(1)man(1)groff_man(7)groff_man_style(7)man-pages(7)uri(7)url(7)urn(7)