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groff_tmac(5)                File Formats Manual               groff_tmac(5)

Name         top

       groff_tmac - macro files in the roff typesetting system

Description         top

       The roff(7) type-setting system provides a set of macro packages
       suitable for special kinds of documents.  Each macro package stores
       its macros and definitions in a file called the package's tmac file.
       The name is deduced from ‘TroffMACros’.

       The tmac files are normal roff source documents, except that they
       usually contain only definitions and setup commands, but no text.
       All tmac files are kept in a single or a small number of directories,
       the tmac directories.

groff Macro Packages         top

       groff provides all classical macro packages, some more full packages,
       and some secondary packages for special purposes.  Note that it is
       not possible to use multiple primary macro packages at the same time;
       saying e.g.,

              sh# groff -m man -m ms foo


              sh# groff -m man foo -m ms bar

       fails.  Exception to this is the use of man pages written with either
       the mdoc or the man macro package.  See below the description of the
       andoc.tmac file.

   Man pages
       man    This is the classical macro package for Unix manual pages
              (man pages); it is quite handy and easy to use; see

       mdoc   An alternative macro package for man pages mainly used in BSD
              systems; it provides many new features, but it is not the
              standard for man pages; see groff_mdoc(7).

       mandoc Use this file in case you don't know whether the man macros or
              the mdoc package should be used.  Multiple man pages (in
              either format) can be handled.

   Full packages
       The packages in this section provide a complete set of macros for
       writing documents of any kind, up to whole books.  They are similar
       in functionality; it is a matter of taste which one to use.

       me     The classical me macro package; see groff_me(7).

       mm     The semi-classical mm macro package; see groff_mm(7).

       mom    The new mom macro package, only available in groff.  As this
              is not based on other packages, it can be freely designed.  So
              it is expected to become quite a nice, modern macro package.
              See groff_mom(7).

       ms     The classical ms macro package; see groff_ms(7).

   Language-specific packages
       cs     This file adds support for Czech localization, including the
              main macro packages (me, mom, mm, and ms).

              Note that cs.tmac sets the input encoding to latin-2.

       den    German localization support, including the main macro packages
              (me, mom, mm, and ms).

              de.tmac selects hyphenation patterns for traditional orthogra‐
              phy, and den.tmac does the same for the new orthography
              (‘Rechtschreibreform’).  It should be used as the last macro
              package on the command line.

       fr     This file adds support for French localization, including the
              main macro packages (me, mom, mm, and ms).  Example:

                     sh# groff -ms -mfr >

              Note that fr.tmac sets the input encoding to latin-9 to get
              proper support of the ‘oe’ ligature.

       sv     Swedish localization support, including the me, mom, and ms
              macro packages.  Note that Swedish for the mm macros is han‐
              dled separately; see groff_mmse(7).  It should be used as the
              last macro package on the command line.

   Input encodings
       latin9 Various input encodings supported directly by groff.  Nor‐
              mally, this macro is loaded at the very beginning of a docu‐
              ment or specified as the first macro argument on the command
              line.  roff loads latin1 by default at start-up.  Note that
              these macro packages don't work on EBCDIC hosts.

       cp1047 Encoding support for EBCDIC.  On those platforms it is loaded
              automatically at start-up.  Due to different character ranges
              used in roff it doesn't work on architectures which are based
              on ASCII.

       Note that it can happen that some input encoding characters are not
       available for a particular output device.  For example, saying

       groff -Tlatin1 -mlatin9 ...

       fails if you use the Euro character in the input.  Usually, this lim‐
       itation is present only for devices which have a limited set of out‐
       put glyphs (-Tascii, -Tlatin1); for other devices it is usually suf‐
       ficient to install proper fonts which contain the necessary glyphs.

   Special packages
       The macro packages in this section are not intended for stand-alone
       usage, but can be used to add special functionality to any other
       macro package or to plain groff.

       62bit  Provides macros for addition, multiplication, and division of
              62-bit integers (allowing safe multiplication of 31-bit inte‐
              gers, for example).

       ec     Switch to the EC and TC font families.  To be used with
              grodvi(1) – this man page also gives more details of how to
              use it.

       hdtbl  The Heidelberger table macros, contributed by Joachim Wals‐
              dorff, allow the generation of tables through a syntax similar
              to the HTML table model.  Note that hdtbl is a macro package,
              not a preprocessor like tbl(1).  hdtbl works only with the
              -Tps and -Tpdf output devices.  See groff_hdtbl(7).

              This macro file is already loaded at start-up by troff so it
              isn't necessary to call it explicitly.  It provides an inter‐
              face to set the paper size on the command line with the option
              -dpaper=size.  Possible values for size are the same as the
              predefined papersize values in the DESC file (only lowercase;
              see groff_font(5) for more) except a7d7.  An appended l (ell)
              character denotes landscape orientation.  Examples: a4, c3l,

              Most output drivers need additional command-line switches -p
              and -l to override the default paper length and orientation as
              set in the driver-specific DESC file.  For example, use the
              following for PS output on A4 paper in landscape orientation:

              sh# groff -Tps -dpaper=a4l -P-pa4 -P-l -ms >

       pdfpic A single macro is provided in this file, PSPIC, to include a
              PDF graphic in a document, i.e., under the output device
              -Tpdf.  For all other devices, pspic is used.  So pdfpic is an
              extension of pspic.  By that you can now even replace all
              PSPIC by PDFPIC, nothing gets lost by that.  The options of
              PDFPIC are identical to the PSDIF options.

       pic    This file provides proper definitions for the macros PS and
              PE, needed for the pic(1) preprocessor.  They center each pic‐
              ture.  Use it only if your macro package doesn't provide
              proper definitions for those two macros (actually, most of
              them already do).

       pspic  A single macro is provided in this file, PSPIC, to include a
              PostScript graphic in a document.  The following output
              devices support inclusion of PS images: -Tps, -Tdvi, -Thtml,
              and -Txhtml; for all other devices the image is replaced with
              a hollow rectangle of the same size.  This macro file is
              already loaded at start-up by troff so it isn't necessary to
              call it explicitly.


                     .PSPIC [-L|-R|-C|-I n] file [width [height]]

              file is the name of the PostScript file; width and height give
              the desired width and height of the image.  If neither a width
              nor a height argument is specified, the image's natural width
              (as given in the file's bounding box) or the current line
              length is used as the width, whatever is smaller.  The width
              and height arguments may have scaling indicators attached; the
              default scaling indicator is i.  This macro scales the graphic
              uniformly in the x and y directions so that it is no more than
              width wide and height high.  Option -C centers the graphic
              horizontally, which is the default.  The -L and -R options
              cause the graphic to be left-aligned and right-aligned,
              respectively.  The -I option causes the graphic to be indented
              by n (default scaling indicator is m).

              For use of .PSPIC within a diversion it is recommended to
              extend it with the following code, assuring that the diver‐
              sion's width completely covers the image's width.

                     .am PSPIC
                     .  vpt 0
                     \h'(\\n[ps-offset]u + \\n[ps-deswid]u)'
                     .  sp -1
                     .  vpt 1

       ptx    A single macro is provided in this file, xx, for formatting
              permuted index entries as produced by the GNU ptx(1) program.
              In case you need a different formatting, copy the macro into
              your document and adapt it to your needs.

       trace  Use this for tracing macro calls.  It is only useful for
              debugging.  See groff_trace(7).

              Overrides the definition of standard troff characters and some
              groff characters for TTY devices.  The optical appearance is
              intentionally inferior compared to that of normal TTY format‐
              ting to allow processing with critical equipment.

       www    Additions of elements known from the HTML format, as used in
              the internet (World Wide Web) pages; this includes URL links
              and mail addresses; see groff_www(7).

Naming         top

       Classical roff systems were designed before the conventions of the
       modern C getopt(3) call evolved, and used a naming scheme for macro
       packages that looks odd to modern eyes.  Macro packages were always
       included with the option -m; when this option was directly followed
       by its argument without an intervening space, this looked like a long
       option preceded by a single minus — a sensation in the computer stone
       age.  To make this invocation form work, classical troff macro
       packages used names that started with the letter ‘m’, which was
       omitted in the naming of the macro file.

       For example, the macro package for the man pages was called man,
       while its macro file  So it could be activated by the
       argument an to option -m, or -man for short.

       For similar reasons, macro packages that did not start with an ‘m’
       had a leading ‘m’ added in the documentation and in speech; for
       example, the package corresponding to tmac.doc was called mdoc in the
       documentation, although a more suitable name would be doc.  For, when
       omitting the space between the option and its argument, the command-
       line option for activating this package reads -mdoc.

       To cope with all situations, actual versions of groff(1) are smart
       about both naming schemes by providing two macro files for the
       inflicted macro packages; one with a leading ‘m’ the other one
       without it.  So in groff, the man macro package may be specified as
       one of the following four methods:

              sh# groff -m man
              sh# groff -man
              sh# groff -mman
              sh# groff -m an

       Recent packages that do not start with ‘m’ do not use an additional
       ‘m’ in the documentation.  For example, the www macro package may be
       specified only as one of the two methods:

              sh# groff -m www
              sh# groff -mwww

       Obviously, variants like -mmwww would not make much sense.

       A second strange feature of classical troff was to name macro files
       in the form  In modern operating systems, the type of a
       file is specified as a postfix, the file name extension.  Again,
       groff copes with this situation by searching both anything.tmac and
       tmac.anything if only anything is specified.

       The easiest way to find out which macro packages are available on a
       system is to check the man page groff(1), or the contents of the tmac

       In groff, most macro packages are described in man pages called
       groff_name(7), with a leading ‘m’ for the classical packages.

Inclusion         top

       There are several ways to use a macro package in a document.  The
       classical way is to specify the troff/groff option -m name at run-
       time; this makes the contents of the macro package name available.
       In groff, the file name.tmac is searched within the tmac path; if not
       found, is searched for instead.

       Alternatively, it is also possible to include a macro file by adding
       the request .so filename into the document; the argument must be the
       full file name of an existing file, possibly with the directory where
       it is kept.  In groff, this was improved by the similar request .mso
       package, which added searching in the tmac path, just like option -m

       Note that in order to resolve the .so and .mso requests, the roff
       preprocessor soelim(1) must be called if the files to be included
       need preprocessing.  This can be done either directly by a pipeline
       on the command line or by using the troff/groff option -s.  man calls
       soelim automatically.

       For example, suppose a macro file is stored as


       and is used in some document called docu.roff.

       At run-time, the formatter call for this is

              sh# groff -m macros docu.roff

       To include the macro file directly in the document either

              .mso macros.tmac

       is used or

              .so /usr/local/share/groff/1.22.4/tmac/macros.tmac

       In both cases, the formatter should be called with option -s to
       invoke soelim.

              sh# groff -s docu.roff

       If you want to write your own groff macro file, call it whatever.tmac
       and put it in a directory in the tmac path; see section “Files”
       below.  Then documents can include it with the .mso request or the
       option -m.

Writing Macros         top

       A roff(7) document is a text file that is enriched by predefined
       formatting constructs, such as requests, escape sequences, strings,
       numeric registers, and macros from a macro package.  These elements
       are described in roff(7).

       To give a document a personal style, it is most useful to extend the
       existing elements by defining some macros for repeating tasks; the
       best place for this is near the beginning of the document or in a
       separate file.

       Macros without arguments are just like strings.  But the full power
       of macros reveals when arguments are passed with a macro call.
       Within the macro definition, the arguments are available as the
       escape sequences \$1, ..., \$9, \$[...], \$*, and \$@, the name under
       which the macro was called is in \$0, and the number of arguments is
       in register \n[.$]; see groff(7).

   Copy-in mode
       The phase when groff reads a macro is called copy-in mode or copy
       mode in roff-talk.  This is comparable to the C preprocessing phase
       during the development of a program written in the C language.

       In this phase, groff interprets all backslashes; that means that all
       escape sequences in the macro body are interpreted and replaced by
       their value.  For constant expressions, this is wanted, but strings
       and registers that might change between calls of the macro must be
       protected from being evaluated.  This is most easily done by doubling
       the backslash that introduces the escape sequence.  This doubling is
       most important for the positional parameters.  For example, to print
       information on the arguments that were passed to the macro to the
       terminal, define a macro named ‘.print_args’, say.

              .ds midpart was called with
              .de print_args
              .  tm \f[I]\\$0\f[] \*[midpart] \\n[.$] arguments:
              .  tm \\$*

       When calling this macro by

              .print_args arg1 arg2

       the following text is printed to the terminal:

              print_args was called with the following 2 arguments:
              arg1 arg2

       Let's analyze each backslash in the macro definition.  As the posi‐
       tional parameters and the number of arguments change with each call
       of the macro their leading backslash must be doubled, which results
       in \\$* and \\[.$].  The same applies to the macro name because it
       could be called with an alias name, so \\$0.

       On the other hand, midpart is a constant string, it does not change,
       so no doubling for \*[midpart].  The \f escape sequences are prede‐
       fined groff elements for setting the font within the text.  Of
       course, this behavior does not change, so no doubling with \f[I] and

   Draft mode
       Writing groff macros is easy when the escaping mechanism is temporar‐
       ily disabled.  In groff, this is done by enclosing the macro defini‐
       tion(s) into a pair of .eo and .ec requests.  Then the body in the
       macro definition is just like a normal part of the document — text
       enhanced by calls of requests, macros, strings, registers, etc.  For
       example, the code above can be written in a simpler way by

              .ds midpart was called with
              .de print_args
              .  tm \f[I]\$0\f[] \*[midpart] \n[.$] arguments:
              .  tm \$*

       Unfortunately, draft mode cannot be used universally.  Although it is
       good enough for defining normal macros, draft mode fails with
       advanced applications, such as indirectly defined strings, registers,
       etc.  An optimal way is to define and test all macros in draft mode
       and then do the backslash doubling as a final step; do not forget to
       remove the .eo request.

   Tips for macro definitions
       ·      Start every line with a dot, for example, by using the groff
              request .nop for text lines, or write your own macro that han‐
              dles also text lines with a leading dot.

                     .de Text
                     .  if (\\n[.$] == 0) \
                     .    return
                     .  nop \)\\$*\)

       ·      Write a comment macro that works both for copy-in and draft
              mode; for as escaping is off in draft mode, trouble might
              occur when normal comments are used.  For example, the follow‐
              ing macro just ignores its arguments, so it acts like a com‐
              ment line:

                     .de c
                     .c This is like a comment line.

       ·      In long macro definitions, make ample use of comment lines or
              almost-empty lines (this is, lines which have a leading dot
              and nothing else) for a better structuring.

       ·      To increase readability, use groff's indentation facility for
              requests and macro calls (arbitrary whitespace after the lead‐
              ing dot).

       Diversions can be used to implement quite advanced programming con‐
       structs.  They are comparable to pointers to large data structures in
       the C programming language, but their usage is quite different.

       In their simplest form, diversions are multi-line strings, but they
       get their power when diversions are used dynamically within macros.
       The (formatted) information stored in a diversion can be retrieved by
       calling the diversion just like a macro.

       Most of the problems arising with diversions can be avoided if you
       remain aware of the fact that diversions always store complete lines.
       If diversions are used when the line buffer has not been flushed,
       strange results are produced; not knowing this, many people get des‐
       perate about diversions.  To ensure that a diversion works, line
       breaks should be added at the right places.  To be on the secure
       side, enclose everything that has to do with diversions into a pair
       of line breaks; for example, by explicitly using .br requests.  This
       rule should be applied to diversion definition, both inside and out‐
       side, and to all calls of diversions.  This is a bit of overkill, but
       it works nicely.

       [If you really need diversions which should ignore the current par‐
       tial line, use environments to save the current partial line and/or
       use the .box request.]

       The most powerful feature using diversions is to start a diversion
       within a macro definition and end it within another macro.  Then
       everything between each call of this macro pair is stored within the
       diversion and can be manipulated from within the macros.

Files         top

       All macro package files must be named name.tmac to fully use the tmac
       mechanism. as with classical packages is possible as well,
       but deprecated.

       The macro files are kept in the tmac directories; a colon separated
       list of these constitutes the tmac path.

       The search sequence for macro files is (in that order):

       ·      the directories specified with troff/groff's -M command-line

       ·      the directories given in the GROFF_TMAC_PATH environment

       ·      the current directory (only if in unsafe mode, which is
              enabled by the -U command-line switch)

       ·      the home directory

       ·      a platform-specific directory, being


              in this installation

       ·      a site-specific (platform-independent) directory, being


              in this installation

       ·      the main tmac directory, being


              in this installation

Environment         top

              A colon separated list of additional tmac directories in which
              to search for macro files.  See the previous section for a
              detailed description.

Authors         top

       This document was written by Bernd Warken ⟨groff-bernd.warken-72@⟩ and Werner Lemberg ⟨⟩.

See Also         top

       Groff: The GNU Implementation of troff, by Trent A. Fisher and Werner
       Lemberg, is the primary groff manual.  You can browse it
       interactively with “info groff”.

              an overview of the groff system.

              the groff tmac macro packages.

              the groff language.

       The Filesystem Hierarchy Standard is available at the FHS web site 

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the groff (GNU troff) project.  Information
       about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a bug report for
       this manual page, see ⟨⟩.  This
       page was obtained from the project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨⟩ on 2020-08-13.  (At that
       time, the date of the most recent commit that was found in the repos‐
       itory was 2020-08-12.)  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            16 May 2020                   groff_tmac(5)

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