The GNU roff PDF output driver translates the output of troff(1)
into Portable Document Format. Normally, gropdf is invoked by
groff(1) when the latter is given the “-T pdf” option. (In this
installation, ps is the default output device.) Use groff's -P
option to pass any options shown above to gropdf. If no file
arguments are given, or if file is “-”, gropdf reads the standard
input stream. Output is written to the standard output stream.
See section “Font installation” below for a guide to installing
fonts for gropdf.
--help displays a usage message, while -v and --version show
version information; all exit afterward.
-d Include debug information as comments within the PDF.
Also produces an uncompressed PDF.
-e Forces gropdf to embed all fonts (even the 14 base PDF
-F dir Prepend directory dir/devname to the search path for font,
and device description files; name is the name of the
device, usually pdf.
-I dir Search the directory dir for files named in \X'pdf:pdfpic' device control commands. -I may be specified more
than once; each dir is searched in the given order. To
search the current working directory before others, add
“-I .” at the desired place; it is otherwise searched
-l Orient the document in landscape format.
Set the physical dimensions of the output medium. This
overrides the papersize, paperlength, and paperwidth
directives in the DESC file; it accepts the same arguments
as the papersize directive. See groff_font(5) for
-s Append a comment line to end of PDF showing statistics,
i.e. number of pages in document. Ghostscript's ps2pdf
complains about this line if it is included, but works
gropdf normally includes a ToUnicode CMap with any font
created using text.enc as the encoding file, this makes it
easier to search for words which contain ligatures. You
can include your own CMap by specifying a cmap-file or
have no CMap at all by omitting the argument.
Set the foundry to use for selecting fonts of the same
The input to gropdf must be in the format output by troff(1).
This is described in groff_out(5). In addition, the device and
font description files for the device used must meet certain
requirements: The resolution must be an integer multiple of 72
times the sizescale. The pdf device uses a resolution of 72000
and a sizescale of 1000.
The device description file must contain a valid paper format;
see groff_font(5). gropdf uses the same Type 1 Adobe PostScript
fonts as the grops device driver. Although the PDF Standard
allows the use of other font types (like TrueType) this
implementation only accepts the Type 1 PostScript font. Fewer
Type 1 fonts are supported natively in PDF documents than the
standard 35 fonts supported by grops and all PostScript printers,
but all the fonts are available since any which aren't supported
natively are automatically embedded in the PDF.
gropdf supports the concept of foundries, that is different
versions of basically the same font. During install a Foundry
file controls where fonts are found and builds groff fonts from
the files it discovers on your system.
Each font description file must contain a command
which says that the PostScript name of the font is psname. Lines
starting with # and blank lines are ignored. The code for each
character given in the font file must correspond to the code in
the default encoding for the font. This code can be used with
the \N escape sequence in troff to select the character, even if
the character does not have a groff name. Every character in the
font file must exist in the PostScript font, and the widths given
in the font file must match the widths used in the PostScript
Note that gropdf is currently only able to display the first 256
glyphs in any font. This restriction will be lifted in a later
gropdf can automatically include the downloadable fonts necessary
to print the document. Fonts may be in PFA or PFB format.
Any downloadable fonts which should, when required, be included
by gropdf must be listed in the file /usr/local/share/groff/1.23.0/font/devpdf/download; this should consist of lines of the
foundry font filename
where foundry is the foundry name or blank for the default
foundry. font is the PostScript name of the font, and filename
is the name of the file containing the font; lines beginning with
# and blank lines are ignored; fields must be separated by tabs
(spaces are not allowed); filename is searched for using the same
mechanism that is used for groff font metric files. The download
file itself is also sought using this mechanism. Foundry names
are usually a single character (such as ‘U’ for the URW foundry)
or empty for the default foundry. This default uses the same
fonts as ghostscript uses when it embeds fonts in a PDF file.
In the default setup there are styles called R, I, B, and BI
mounted at font positions 1 to 4. The fonts are grouped into
families A, BM, C, H, HN, N, P, and T having members in each of
There is also the following font which is not a member of a
There are also some special fonts called S for the PS Symbol
font. The lower case greek characters are automatically slanted
(to match the SymbolSlanted font (SS) available to PostScript).
Zapf Dingbats is available as ZD; the “hand pointing left” glyph
(\[lh]) is available since it has been defined using the \X'pdf:xrev' device control command, which reverses the direction of
letters within words.
The default color for \m and \M is black.
gropdf understands some of the device control commands supported
Stop suppressing output.
\X'ps: exec gsave currentpoint 2 copy translate nrotate neg exchneg exch translate'
where n is the angle of rotation. This is to support the
align command in pic(1).
\X'ps: exec grestore'
Used by pic(1) to restore state after rotation.
\X'ps: exec nsetlinejoin'
where n can be one of the following values.
0 = Miter join
1 = Round join
2 = Bevel join
\X'ps: exec nsetlinecap'
where n can be one of the following values.
0 = Butt cap
1 = Round cap, and
2 = Projecting square cap
\X'ps: ... pdfmark'
All the pdfmark macros installed by using -m pdfmark or -mmspdf (see documentation in pdfmark.pdf). A subset of
these macros are installed automatically when you use
-Tpdf so you should not need to use “-m pdfmark” to access
most PDF functionality.
gropdf also supports a subset of the commands introduced in
present.tmac. Specifically it supports:-
Which allows you to create presentation type PDFs. Many of the
other commands are already available in other macro packages.
These commands are implemented with groff X commands:-
\X'ps: exec %%%%PAUSE'
The section before this is treated as a block and is
introduced using the current BLOCK transition setting (see
“\X'pdf: transition'” below). Equivalently, .pdfpause is
available as a macro.
\X'ps: exec %%%%BEGINONCE'
Any text following this command (up to %%%%ENDONCE) is
shown only once, the next %%%%PAUSE will remove it. If
producing a non-presentation PDF, i.e. ignoring the
pauses, see GROPDF_NOSLIDE below, this text is ignored.
\X'ps: exec %%%%ENDONCE'
This terminates the block defined by %%%%BEGINONCE. This
pair of commands is what implements the .BLOCKS
Once/.BLOCKE commands in present.tmac.
The mom macro package already integrates these extensions, so you
can build slides with mom.
If you use present.tmac with gropdf there is no need to run the
program presentps(1) since the output will already be a
All other ps: tags are silently ignored.
One \X device control command used by the DVI driver is also
where the paper-format parameter is the same as that to
the papersize directive. See groff_font(5). This means
that you can alter the page size at will within the PDF
file being created by gropdf. If you do want to change
the paper format, it must be done before you start
creating the page.
gropdf supports several more device control features using the
pdf: tag. Some have counterpart convenience macros that take the
same arguments and behave equivalently.
\X'pdf: pdfpic file alignment width height line-length'
Place an image of the specified width containing the PDF
drawing from file file of desired width and height (if
height is missing or zero then it is scaled
proportionally). If alignment is -L the drawing is left-
aligned. If it is -C or -R a line-length greater than the
width of the drawing is required as well. If width is
specified as zero then the width is scaled in proportion
to the height.
Toggle the reversal of glyph direction. This feature
works “letter by letter”, that is, each letter in a word
is reversed left-to-right, not the entire word. One
application is the reversal of glyphs in the Zapf Dingbats
font. To restore the normal glyph orientation, repeat the
\X'pdf: markstart /ANN-definition'\X'pdf: markend'
Macros that support PDF bookmarks use these calls
internally to start and stop (respectively) the placement
of the bookmark's hot spot; the user will have called
“.pdfhref L” with the text of the hot spot. Normally,
these are never used except from within the pdfmark
\X'pdf: marksuspend'\X'pdf: markrestart'
If you use a page location trap to produce a header or
footer, or otherwise interrupt a document's text, you need
to use these commands if a PDF hot spot crosses a trap
boundary; otherwise any text output by the trap will be
marked as part of the hot spot. To prevent this error,
place these device control commands or their corresponding
convenience macros .pdfmarksuspend and .pdfmarkrestart at
the start and end of the trap macro, respectively.
\X'pdf: pagename name'
Assign the current page a name. All documents bear two
default names, ‘top’ and ‘bottom’. The convenience macro
for this command is .pdfpagename.
\X'pdf: switchtopage when name'
Normally each new page is appended to the end of the
document, this command allows following pages to be
inserted at a ‘named’ position within the document (see
pagename command above). ‘when’ can be either ‘after’ or
‘before’. If it is omitted it defaults to ‘before’. It
should be used at the end of the page before you want the
switch to happen. This allows pages such as a TOC to be
moved to elsewhere in the document, but more esoteric uses
are possible. The convenience macro for this command is
\X'pdf: transition feature mode duration dimension motiondirection scale bool'
where feature can be either SLIDE or BLOCK. When it is
SLIDE the transition is used when a new slide is
introduced to the screen, if BLOCK then this transition is
used for the individual blocks which make up the slide.
mode is the transition type between slides:-
Split - Two lines sweep across the screen,
revealing the new page. The lines may be either
horizontal or vertical and may move inward from the
edges of the page or outward from the center, as
specified by the dimension and motion entries,
Blinds - Multiple lines, evenly spaced across the
screen, synchronously sweep in the same direction
to reveal the new page. The lines may be either
horizontal or vertical, as specified by the
dimension entry. Horizontal lines move downward;
vertical lines move to the right.
Box - A rectangular box sweeps inward from the
edges of the page or outward from the center, as
specified by the motion entry, revealing the new
Wipe - A single line sweeps across the screen from
one edge to the other in the direction specified by
the direction entry, revealing the new page.
Dissolve - The old page dissolves gradually to
reveal the new one.
Glitter - Similar to Dissolve, except that the
effect sweeps across the page in a wide band moving
from one side of the screen to the other in the
direction specified by the direction entry.
R - The new page simply replaces the old one with
no special transition effect; the direction entry
shall be ignored.
Fly - (PDF 1.5) Changes are flown out or in (as
specified by motion), in the direction specified by
direction, to or from a location that is offscreen
except when direction is None.
Push - (PDF 1.5) The old page slides off the screen
while the new page slides in, pushing the old page
out in the direction specified by direction.
Cover - (PDF 1.5) The new page slides on to the
screen in the direction specified by direction,
covering the old page.
Uncover - (PDF 1.5) The old page slides off the
screen in the direction specified by direction,
uncovering the new page in the direction specified
Fade - (PDF 1.5) The new page gradually becomes
visible through the old one.
duration is the length of the transition in seconds
dimension (Optional; Split and Blinds transition styles
only) The dimension in which the specified transition
effect shall occur: H Horizontal, or V Vertical.
motion (Optional; Split, Box and Fly transition styles
only) The direction of motion for the specified transition
effect: I Inward from the edges of the page, or O Outward
from the center of the page.
direction (Optional; Wipe, Glitter, Fly, Cover, Uncover
and Push transition styles only) The direction in which
the specified transition effect shall moves, expressed in
degrees counterclockwise starting from a left-to-right
direction. If the value is a number, it shall be one of:
0 = Left to right, 90 = Bottom to top (Wipe only), 180 =
Right to left (Wipe only), 270 = Top to bottom, 315 = Top-
left to bottom-right (Glitter only) The value can be None,
which is relevant only for the Fly transition when the
value of scale is not 1.0.
scale (Optional; PDF 1.5; Fly transition style only) The
starting or ending scale at which the changes shall be
drawn. If motion specifies an inward transition, the
scale of the changes drawn shall progress from scale to
1.0 over the course of the transition. If motion
specifies an outward transition, the scale of the changes
drawn shall progress from 1.0 to scale over the course of
bool (Optional; PDF 1.5; Fly transition style only) If
true, the area that shall be flown in is rectangular and
This command can be used by calling the macro
.pdftransition using the parameters described above. Any
of the parameters may be replaced with a "." which
signifies the parameter retains its previous value, also
any trailing missing parameters are ignored.
Note: not all PDF Readers support any or all these
\X'pdf: background cmd left top right bottom weight'\X'pdf: background off'\X'pdf: background footnote bottom'
produces a background rectangle on the page, where
cmd is the command, which can be any of “page|fill|box”
in combination. Thus, “pagefill” would draw a
rectangle which covers the whole current page size
(in which case the rest of the parameters can be
omitted because the box dimensions are taken from
the current media size). “boxfill”, on the other
hand, requires the given dimensions to place the
box. Including “fill” in the command will paint
the rectangle with the current fill colour (as with
\M) and including “box” will give the rectangle a
border in the current stroke colour (as with \m).
cmd may also be “off” on its own, which will
terminate drawing the current box. If you have
specified a page colour with “pagefill”, it is
always the first box in the stack, and if you
specify it again, it will replace the first entry.
Be aware that the “pagefill” box renders the page
opaque, so tools that “watermark” PDF pages are
unlikely to be successful. To return the
background to transparent, issue an “off” command
with no other boxes open.
Finally, cmd may be “footnote” followed by a new
value for bottom, which will be used for all open
boxes on the current page. This is to allow room
for footnote areas that grow while a page is
processed (to accommodate multiple footnotes, for
instance). (If the value is negative, it is used
as an offset from the bottom of the page.)
lefttoprightbottom are the coordinates of the box. The top and bottom
coordinates are the minimum and maximum for the
box, since the actual start of the box is groff's
drawing position when you issue the command, and
the bottom of the box is the point where you turn
the box “off”. The top and bottom coordinates are
used only if the box drawing extends onto the next
page; ordinarily, they would be set to the header
and footer margins.
weight provides the line width for the border if “box” is
included in the command.
The convenience macro for this escape sequence is
.pdfbackground. An sboxes macro file is also available;
Macrosgropdf's support macros in pdf.tmac define the convenience macros
described above. Some features have no direct device control
.pdfinfo /field content ...
Define PDF metadata. field may be be one of Title,
Author, Subject, Keywords, or another datum supported by
the PDF standard or your reader. field must be prefixed
with a slash.
Importing graphicsgropdf supports only the inclusion of other PDF files for inline
images. Such a PDF file may, however, contain any of the graphic
formats supported by the PDF standard, such as JPEG/JFIF, PNG,
and GIF. Any application that outputs PDF can thus be used to
prepare files for embedding in documents processed by groff and
The PDF file you wish to insert must be a single page and the
drawing must just fit inside the media size of the PDF file. In
inkscape(1) or gimp(1), for example, make sure the canvas size
just fits the image.
The PDF parser gropdf implements has not been rigorously tested
with all applications that produce PDF. If you find a single-
page PDF which fails to import properly, try processing it with
the pdftk(1) program.
pdftk existing-file output new-file
You may find that new-file imports successfully.
TrueType and other font formatsgropdf does not yet support any font formats besides Adobe Type 1
(PFA or PFB).
The following is a step-by-step font installation guide for
• Convert your font to something groff understands. This is a
PostScript Type 1 font in PFA or PFB format, together with an
AFM file. A PFA file begins as follows.
A PFB file contains this string as well, preceded by some non-
printing bytes. In the following steps, we will consider the
use of CTAN's BrushScriptX-Italic
⟨https://ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts/brushscr⟩ font in PFA
• Convert the AFM file to a groff font description file with the
afmtodit(1) program. For instance,
$ afmtodit BrushScriptX-Italic.afm text.map BSI
converts the Adobe Font Metric file BrushScriptX-Italic.afm to
the groff font description file BSI.
If you have a font family which provides regular upright
(roman), bold, italic, and bold-italic styles, (where “italic”
may be “oblique” or “slanted”), we recommend using R, B, I, and
BI, respectively, as suffixes to the groff font family name to
enable groff's font family and style selection features. An
example is groff's built-in support for Times: the font family
name is abbreviated as T, and the groff font names are
therefore TR, TB, TI, and TBI. In our example, however, the
BrushScriptX font is available in a single style only, italic.
• Install the groff font description file(s) in a devpdf
subdirectory in the search path that groff uses for device and
font file descriptions. See the GROFF_FONT_PATH entry in
section “Environment” of troff(1) for the current value of the
font search path. While groff doesn't directly use AFM files,
it is a good idea to store them alongside its font description
• Register fonts in the devpdf/download file so they can be
located for embedding in PDF files gropdf generates. Only the
first download file encountered in the font search path is
read. If in doubt, copy the default download file (see section
“Files” below) to the first directory in the font search path
and add your fonts there. The PostScript font name used by
gropdf is stored in the internalname field in the groff font
description file. (This name does not necessarily resemble the
font's file name.) If the font in our example had originated
from a foundry named Z, we would add the following line to
A tab character, depicted as →, separates the fields. The
default foundry has no name: its field is empty and entries
corresponding to it start with a tab character, as will the one
in our example.
• Test the selection and embedding of the new font.
printf "\\f[BSI]Hello, world!\n" | groff -T pdf -P -e >hello.pdf
A list of directories in which to seek the selected output
device's directory of device and font description files.
If, in the download file, the font file has been specified
with a full path, no directories are searched. See
troff(1) and groff_font(5).
If set and evaluates to a true value (to Perl), gropdf
ignores commands specific to presentation PDFs, producing
a normal PDF instead.
A timestamp (expressed as seconds since the Unix epoch) to
use as the output creation timestamp in place of the
current time. The time is converted to human-readable
form using Perl's localtime() function and recorded in a
TZ The time zone to use when converting the current time (or
value of SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH) to human-readable form; see
describes the pdf output device.
describes the font known as F on device pdf.
describes the font from the URW foundry (versus the Adobe
default) known as F on device pdf.
lists fonts available for embedding within the PDF
document (by analogy to the ps device's downloadable font
is a data file used by the groff build system to locate
PostScript Type 1 fonts.
describes the encoding scheme used by most PostScript
Type 1 fonts; the encoding directive of font description
files for the pdf device refers to it.
defines macros for use with the pdf output device. It is
automatically loaded by troffrc when the pdf output device
defines the PDFPIC macro for embedding images in a
document; see groff_tmac(5). It is automatically loaded
“Using PDF boxes with groff and the ms macros”, by Deri
is part of gpresent
software package by Bob Diertens that works with groff to
produce presentations (“foils”, or “slide decks”).
afmtodit(1), groff(1), troff(1), groff_font(5), groff_out(5)
This page is part of the groff (GNU troff) project. Information
about the project can be found at
⟨http://www.gnu.org/software/groff/⟩. If you have a bug report
for this manual page, see ⟨http://www.gnu.org/software/groff/⟩.
This page was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
⟨https://git.savannah.gnu.org/git/groff.git⟩ on 2023-06-23. (At
that time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in
the repository was 2023-06-23.) If you discover any rendering
problems in this HTML version of the page, or you believe there
is a better or more up-to-date source for the page, or you have
corrections or improvements to the information in this COLOPHON
(which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to
groff 1.23.0.rc4.250-1b2b6-dirt2y2 June 2023 gropdf(1)