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GROFF(1)                                                              GROFF(1)

       groff - front-end for the groff document formatting system

       groff [-abcegilpstzCEGNRSUVXZ] [-d cs] [-f fam] [-F dir] [-I dir] [-L arg]
             [-m name] [-M dir] [-n num] [-o list] [-P arg] [-r cn] [-T dev] [-w name]
             [-W name] [file ...]
       groff -h | --help
       groff -v | --version [option ...]

       The  command  line is parsed according to the usual GNU convention.  The whitespace
       between a command line option and its argument is optional.  Options can be grouped
       behind a single - (minus character).  A filename of - (minus character) denotes the
       standard input.

       This document describes the groff program, the main front-end for the  groff  docu-
       ment formatting system.  The groff program and macro suite is the implementation of
       a roff(7) system within the free software collection GNU <>.  The
       groff system has all features of the classical roff, but adds many extensions.

       The groff program allows to control the whole groff system by command line options.
       This is a great simplification in comparison to  the  classical  case  (which  uses
       pipes only).

       As  groff is a wrapper program for troff both programs share a set of options.  But
       the groff program has some additional, native options and gives a  new  meaning  to
       some  troff  options.   On  the  other  hand, not all troff options can be fed into

   Native groff Options
       The following options either do not exist for troff or are differently  interpreted
       by groff.

       -e     Preprocess with eqn.

       -g     Preprocess with grn.

       -G     Preprocess with grap.

       -h --help
              Print a help message.

       -I dir Add search directory for soelim(1).  This option implies the -s option.

       -l     Send  the output to a spooler program for printing.  The command that should
              be used for this is specified by the print command in the device description
              file,  see  groff_font(5).   If  this  command is not present, the output is
              piped into the lpr(1) program by default.  See options -L and -X.

       -L arg Pass arg to the spooler program.  Several arguments should be passed with  a
              separate  -L option each.  Note that groff does not prepend - (a minus sign)
              to arg before passing it to the spooler program.

       -N     Don't allow newlines within eqn delimiters.  This is  the  same  as  the  -N
              option in eqn.

       -p     Preprocess with pic.

       -P -option
       -P -option -P arg
              Pass -option or -option arg to the postprocessor.  The option must be speci-
              fied with the necessary preceding minus sign(s) '-' or  '--'  because  groff
              does  not  prepend  any  dashes before passing it to the postprocessor.  For
              example, to pass a title to the gxditview postprocessor, the shell command

              sh# groff -X -P -title -P 'groff it' foo

              is equivalent to

              sh# groff -X -Z foo | gxditview -title 'groff it' -

       -R     Preprocess with refer.  No mechanism is provided for  passing  arguments  to
              refer  because most refer options have equivalent language elements that can
              be specified within the document.  See refer(1) for more details.

       -s     Preprocess with soelim.

       -S     Safer mode.  Pass the -S option to pic and disable the following  troff  re-
              quests: .open, .opena, .pso, .sy, and .pi.  For security reasons, safer mode
              is enabled by default.

       -t     Preprocess with tbl.

       -T dev Set output device to dev.  The possible values in groff are  ascii,  cp1047,
              dvi,  html, latin1, lbp, lj4, ps, utf8, X75, and X100.  Additionally, X75-12
              and X100-12 are available for documents which use 12pt as the base  document
              size.  The default device is ps.

       -U     Unsafe mode.  Reverts to the (old) unsafe behaviour; see option -S.

       -v --version
              Output  version information of groff and of all programs that are run by it;
              that is, the given command line is parsed in the usual way,  passing  -v  to
              all subprograms.

       -V     Output  the  pipeline that would be run by groff (as a wrapper program), but
              do not execute it.

       -X     Use gxditview instead of using the usual postprocessor to (pre)view a  docu-
              ment.   The  printing spooler behavior as outlined with options -l and -L is
              carried over to gxditview(1) by determining an argument for  the  -printCom-
              mand  option  of  gxditview(1).   This sets the default Print action and the
              corresponding menu entry to that value.  -X only produces good results  with
              -Tps,  -TX75,  -TX75-12,  -TX100, and -TX100-12.  The default resolution for
              previewing -Tps output is 75dpi; this can be changed by passing the -resolu-
              tion option to gxditview, for example

              sh# groff -X -P-resolution -P100 -man foo.1

       -z     Suppress output generated by troff.  Only error messages will be printed.

       -Z     Do not postprocess the output of troff that is normally called automatically
              by groff.  This will print the intermediate output to standard  output;  see

   Transparent Options
       The  following options are transparently handed over to the formatter program troff
       that is called by groff subsequently.  These options are described in  more  detail
       in troff(1).

       -a     ascii approximation of output.

       -b     backtrace on error or warning.

       -c     disable color output.

       -C     enable compatibility mode.

       -d cs
       -d name=s
              define string.

       -E     disable troff error messages.

       -f fam set default font family.

       -F dir set path for font DESC files.

       -i     process standard input after the specified input files.

       -m name
              include macro file name.tmac (or; see also groff_tmac(5).

       -M dir path for macro files.

       -n num number the first page num.

       -o list
              output only pages in list.

       -r cn
       -r name=n
              set number register.

       -w name
              enable warning name.

       -W name
              disable warning name.

       The groff system implements the infrastructure of classical roff; see roff(7) for a
       survey on how a roff system works in general.  Due to the front-end programs avail-
       able within the groff system, using groff is much easier than classical roff.  This
       section gives an overview of the parts that constitute the groff system.   It  com-
       plements  roff(7)  with groff-specific features.  This section can be regarded as a
       guide to the documentation around the groff system.

       The groff program is a wrapper around the troff(1) program.  It allows  to  specify
       the  preprocessors by command line options and automatically runs the postprocessor
       that is appropriate for the selected device.  Doing so, the sometimes tedious  pip-
       ing mechanism of classical roff(7) can be avoided.

       The grog(1) program can be used for guessing the correct groff command line to for-
       mat a file.

       The groffer(1) program is an allround-viewer for groff files and man pages.

       The groff preprocessors are reimplementations of the classical  preprocessors  with
       moderate extensions.  The preprocessors distributed with the groff package are

       eqn(1) for mathematical formulae,

       grn(1) for including gremlin(1) pictures,

       pic(1) for drawing diagrams,

              for bibliographic references,

              for including macro files from standard locations,


       tbl(1) for tables.

       Besides  these,  there  are  some internal preprocessors that are automatically run
       with some devices.  These aren't visible to the user.

   Macro Packages
       Macro packages can be included by option -m.  The groff system implements  and  ex-
       tends  all  classical  macro packages in a compatible way and adds some packages of
       its own.  Actually, the following macro packages come with groff:

       man    The traditional man page format; see groff_man(7).  It can be  specified  on
              the command line as -man or -m man.

       mandoc The  general  package for man pages; it automatically recognizes whether the
              documents uses the man or the mdoc format and branches to the  corresponding
              macro  package.   It  can  be specified on the command line as -mandoc or -m

       mdoc   The BSD-style man page format; see groff_mdoc(7).  It can  be  specified  on
              the command line as -mdoc or -m mdoc.

       me     The  classical  me document format; see groff_me(7).  It can be specified on
              the command line as -me or -m me.

       mm     The classical mm document format; see groff_mm(7).  It can be  specified  on
              the command line as -mm or -m mm.

       ms     The  classical  ms document format; see groff_ms(7).  It can be specified on
              the command line as -ms or -m ms.

       www    HTML-like  macros  for  inclusion  in   arbitrary   groff   documents;   see

       Details  on  the  naming  of  macro  files  and  their  placement  can  be found in

   Programming Language
       General concepts common to all roff programming languages are described in roff(7).

       The   groff   extensions   to  the  classical  troff  language  are  documented  in

       The groff language as a whole is described in the  (still  incomplete)  groff  info
       file; a short (but complete) reference can be found in groff(7).

       The  central  roff  formatter within the groff system is troff(1).  It provides the
       features of both the classical troff and nroff, as well as  the  groff  extensions.
       The  command  line  option -C switches troff into compatibility mode which tries to
       emulate classical roff as much as possible.

       There is a shell script nroff(1) that emulates the behavior of classical nroff.  It
       tries  to automatically select the proper output encoding, according to the current

       The formatter program generates intermediate output; see groff_out(7).

       In roff, the output targets are called devices.  A device can be a piece  of  hard-
       ware,  e.g. a printer, or a software file format.  A device is specified by the op-
       tion -T.  The groff devices are as follows.

       ascii  Text output using the ascii(7) character set.

       cp1047 Text output using the EBCDIC code page IBM cp1047 (e.g. OS/390 Unix).

       nippon Text output using the Japanese-EUC character set.

       dvi    TeX DVI format.

       html   HTML output.

       ascii8 For typewriter-like devices.  Unlike ascii, this  device  is  8  bit  clean.
              This  device  is  intended  to  be  used  for  codesets other than ASCII and

       latin1 Text  output  using  the  ISO  Latin-1  (ISO  8859-1)  character  set;   see

       lbp    Output for Canon CAPSL printers (LBP-4 and LBP-8 series laser printers).

       lj4    HP LaserJet4-compatible (or other PCL5-compatible) printers.

       ps     PostScript output; suitable for printers and previewers like gv(1).

       utf8   Text output using the Unicode (ISO 10646) character set with UTF-8 encoding;
              see unicode(7).

       X75    75dpi X Window System output suitable for the  previewers  xditview(1x)  and
              gxditview(1).  A variant for a 12pt document base font is X75-12.

       X100   100dpi  X  Window System output suitable for the previewers xditview(1x) and
              gxditview(1).  A variant for a 12pt document base font is X100-12.

       The postprocessor to be used for a device is specified by the  postpro  command  in
       the device description file; see groff_font(5).  This can be overridden with the -X

       The default device is ps.

       groff provides 3 hardware postprocessors:

              for some Canon printers,

              for printers compatible to the HP LaserJet 4 and PCL5,

              for text output using various encodings, e.g. on text-oriented terminals  or

       Today, most printing or drawing hardware is handled by the operating system, by de-
       vice drivers, or by software interfaces, usually accepting PostScript.  Consequent-
       ly, there isn't an urgent need for more hardware device postprocessors.

       The groff software devices for conversion into other document file formats are

              for the DVI format,

              for HTML format,

              for PostScript.

       Combined  with the many existing free conversion tools this should be sufficient to
       convert a troff document into virtually any existing data format.

       The following utility programs around groff are available.

              Add information to troff font description files for use with groff.

              Create font description files for PostScript device.

              General viewer program for groff files and man pages.

              The groff X viewer, the GNU version of xditview.

              Create font description files for lj4 device.

              Make inverted index for bibliographic databases.

              Search bibliographic databases.

              Interactively search bibliographic databases.

              Translate a PostScript font in .pfb format to ASCII.

              Create font description files for TeX DVI device.

              roff viewer distributed with X window.

       Normally, the path separator in the following environment variables is  the  colon;
       this  may vary depending on the operating system.  For example, DOS and Windows use
       a semicolon instead.

              This search path, followed by $PATH, will be used for commands that are exe-
              cuted  by  groff.  If it is not set then the directory where the groff bina-
              ries were installed is prepended to PATH.

              When there is a need to run different roff implementations at the same  time
              groff provides the facility to prepend a prefix to most of its programs that
              could provoke name clashings at run time (default is to have none).  Histor-
              ically,  this prefix was the character g, but it can be anything.  For exam-
              ple, gtroff stood for groff's troff, gtbl for the groff version of tbl.   By
              setting GROFF_COMMAND_PREFIX to different values, the different roff instal-
              lations can be addressed.  More exactly, if it is set  to  prefix  xxx  then
              groff  as  a wrapper program will internally call xxxtroff instead of troff.
              This also applies to the preprocessors eqn, grn, pic,  refer,  tbl,  soelim,
              and  to  the  utilities indxbib and lookbib.  This feature does not apply to
              any programs different from the ones above (most notably groff itself) since
              they are unique to the groff package.

              A  list of directories in which to search for the devname directory in addi-
              tion to the default ones.  See troff(1) and groff_font(5) for more  details.

              A  list of directories in which to search for macro files in addition to the
              default directories.  See troff(1) and groff_tmac(5) for more details.

              The directory in which temporary files will be created.  If this is not  set
              but the environment variable TMPDIR instead, temporary files will be created
              in the directory $TMPDIR.  Otherwise temporary  files  will  be  created  in
              /tmp.   The refer(1), groffer(1), grohtml(1), and grops(1) commands use tem-
              porary files.

              Preset the default device.  If this is not set the ps device is used as  de-
              fault.  This device name is overwritten by the option -T.

       There  are  some directories in which groff installs all of its data files.  Due to
       different installation habits on different operating systems, their  locations  are
       not  absolutely  fixed,  but their function is clearly defined and coincides on all

   groff Macro Directory
       This contains all information related to macro packages.  Note  that  more  than  a
       single  directory  is searched for those files as documented in groff_tmac(5).  For
       the  groff  installation  corresponding  to  this  document,  it  is   located   at
       /usr/share/groff/   The  following files contained in the groff macro
       directory have a special meaning:

              Initialization file for troff.  This is interpreted by troff before  reading
              the macro sets and any input.

              Final  startup  file  for troff, it is parsed after all macro sets have been

              Macro file for macro package name.

   groff Font Directory
       This contains all information related to output devices.  Note  that  more  than  a
       single  directory is searched for those files; see troff(1).  For the groff instal-
       lation    corresponding    to    this    document,     it     is     located     at
       /usr/share/groff/   The  following  files contained in the groff font
       directory have a special meaning:

              Device description file for device name, see groff_font(5).

              Font file for font F of device name.

       The following example illustrates the power of  the  groff  program  as  a  wrapper
       around troff.

       To  process  a  roff file using the preprocessors tbl and pic and the me macro set,
       classical troff had to be called by

       sh# pic | tbl | troff -me -Tlatin1 | grotty

       Using groff, this pipe can be shortened to the equivalent command

       sh# groff -p -t -me -T latin1

       An even easier way to call this is to use grog(1) to  guess  the  preprocessor  and
       macro options and execute the generated command (by specifying shell left quotes)

       sh# 'grog -Tlatin1'

       The simplest way is to view the contents in an automated way by calling

       sh# groffer

       On  EBCDIC  hosts (e.g. OS/390 Unix), output devices ascii and latin1 aren't avail-
       able.  Similarly, output for EBCDIC code page cp1047  is  not  available  on  ASCII
       based operating systems.

       Report  bugs to bug-groff AT  Include a complete, self-contained example that
       will allow the bug to be reproduced, and say which version of groff you are  using.

       Information  on  how  to  get groff and related information is available at the GNU
       website <>.  The most recent released  version  of
       groff   is   available   for   anonymous   ftp   at   the  groff  development  site

       Three groff mailing lists are available:

       bug-groff AT
              for reporting bugs,

       groff AT
              for general discussion of groff,

       groff-commit AT
              a read-only list showing logs of commitments to the CVS repository.

       Details on CVS access and much more can be found in the file README at the top  di-
       rectory of the groff source package.

       There  is  a  free  implementation  of  the grap preprocessor, written by Ted Faber
       <faber AT>.  The actual version can be found at the grap website <http://>.   This is the only grap version sup-
       ported by groff.

       Copyright (C) 1989, 2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

       This document is distributed under the terms of the FDL (GNU Free Documentation Li-
       cense)  version  1.1  or later.  You should have received a copy of the FDL on your
       system, it is also available on-line at the GNU copyleft site  <

       This  document  is  based  on  the  original  groff man page written by James Clark
       <jjc AT>.  It was rewritten, enhanced, and put under  the  FDL  license  by
       Bernd Warken <bwarken AT>.  It is maintained by Werner Lemberg <wl AT>.

       groff is a GNU free software project.  All parts of the groff package are protected
       by GNU copyleft licenses.  The software files are distributed under  the  terms  of
       the  GNU General Public License (GPL), while the documentation files mostly use the
       GNU Free Documentation License (FDL).

       The groff info file contains all information on the groff system  within  a  single
       document.   Beneath the detailed documentation of all aspects, it provides examples
       and background information.  See info(1) on how to read it.

       Due to its complex structure, the groff system has many man  pages.   They  can  be
       read with man(1) or groffer(1).

       Introduction, history and further readings:

       Viewer for groff files:
              groffer(1), gxditview(1), xditview(1x).

       Wrapper programs for formatters:
              groff(1), grog(1).

       Roff preprocessors:
              eqn(1), grn(1), pic(1), refer(1), soelim(1), tbl(1), grap(1).

       Roff language with the groff extensions:
              groff(7), groff_char(7), groff_diff(7), groff_font(5).

       Roff formatter programs:
              nroff(1), troff(1), ditroff(7).

       The intermediate output language:

       Postprocessors for the output devices:
              grodvi(1), grohtml(1), grolbp(1), grolj4(1), grops(1), grotty(1).

       Groff macro packages and macro-specific utilities:
              groff_tmac(5),   groff_man(7),   groff_mdoc(7),   groff_me(7),  groff_mm(7),
              groff_mmse(7), groff_mom(7), groff_ms(7), groff_www(7), mmroff(7).

       The following utilities are available:
              addftinfo(1),   afmtodit(1),   eqn2graph(1),    groffer(1),    gxditview(1),
              hpftodit(1),  indxbib(1), lookbib(1), pfbtops(1), pic2graph(1), tfmtodit(1).

Groff Version         11 November 2010                       GROFF(1)

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