troff Man page

TROFF(1) General Commands Manual TROFF(1)


troff – the troff processor of the groff text formatting system


troff [-abcivzCERU] [-d cs] [-f fam] [-F dir] [-I dir] [-m name] [-M dir] [-n num] [-o list] [-r cn] [-T name] [-w name] [-W name] [file …]


This manual page describes the GNU version of troff. It is part of the
groff document formatting system. It is functionally compatible with
UNIX troff, but has many extensions, see groff_diff(7). Usually it
should be invoked using the groff command which will also run pre‐
processors and postprocessors in the appropriate order and with the
appropriate options.


It is possible to have whitespace between a command line option and its

-a Generate an ASCII approximation of the typeset output.

-b Print a backtrace with each warning or error message. This
backtrace should help track down the cause of the error. The
line numbers given in the backtrace may not always be cor‐
rect, for troff’s idea of line numbers gets confused by as or
am requests.

-c Disable color output (always disabled in compatibility mode).

-C Enable compatibility mode.

-dname=s Define c or name to be a string s; c must be a one letter

-E Inhibit all error messages of troff. Note that this doesn’t
affect messages output to standard error by macro packages
using the tm or tm1 requests.

-ffam Use fam as the default font family.

-Fdir Search in directory (or directory path) dir for subdirecto‐
ries devname (name is the name of the device) and there for
the DESC file and font files. dir is scanned before all
other font directories.

-i Read the standard input after all the named input files have
been processed.

-Idir This option may be used to add a directory to the search path
for files (both those on the command line and those named in
.psbb requests). The search path is initialized with the
current directory. This option may be specified more than
once; the directories are then searched in the order speci‐
fied (but before the current directory). If you want to make
the current directory be read before other directories, add
-I. at the appropriate place.

No directory search is performed for files with an absolute
file name.

-mname Read in the file name.tmac. If it isn’t found, try
instead. It will be first searched for in directories given
with the -M command line option, then in directories given in
the GROFF_TMAC_PATH environment variable, then in the current
directory (only if in unsafe mode), the home directory,
/usr/lib/groff/site-tmac, /usr/share/groff/site-tmac, and

-Mdir Search directory (or directory path) dir for macro files.
This is scanned before all other macro directories.

-nnum Number the first page num.

-olist Output only pages in list, which is a comma-separated list of
page ranges; n means print page n, m-n means print every page
between m and n, -n means print every page up to n, n- means
print every page from n. troff will exit after printing the
last page in the list.

-rname=n Set number register c or name to n; c must be a one character
name; n can be any troff numeric expression.

-R Don’t load troffrc and troffrc-end.

-Tname Prepare output for device name, rather than the default ps;
see groff for a more detailed description.

-U Unsafe mode. This will enable the following requests: open,
opena, pso, sy, and pi. For security reasons, these poten‐
tially dangerous requests are disabled otherwise. It will
also add the current directory to the macro search path.

-v Print the version number.

-wname Enable warning name. Available warnings are described in the
section WARNINGS below. For example, to enable all warnings,
use -w all. Multiple -w options are allowed.

-Wname Inhibit warning name. Multiple -W options are allowed.

-z Suppress formatted output.

The warnings that can be given by troff are divided into the following
categories. The name associated with each warning is used by the -w
and -W options; the number is used by the warn request, and by the
.warn register; it is always a power of 2 to allow bitwise composition.

│Bit Code Warning │ Bit Code Warning │
│ 0 1 char │ 10 1024 reg │
│ 1 2 number │ 11 2048 tab │
│ 2 4 break │ 12 4096 right-brace │
│ 3 8 delim │ 13 8192 missing │
│ 4 16 el │ 14 16384 input │
│ 5 32 scale │ 15 32768 escape │
│ 6 64 range │ 16 65536 space │
│ 7 128 syntax │ 17 131072 font │
│ 8 256 di │ 18 262144 ig │
│ 9 512 mac │ 19 524288 color │
│ │ 20 1048576 file │
break 4 In fill mode, lines which could not be broken so
that their length was less than the line length.
This is enabled by default.

char 1 Non-existent characters. This is enabled by

color 524288 Color related warnings.

delim 8 Missing or mismatched closing delimiters.

di 256 Use of di or da without an argument when there is
no current diversion.

el 16 Use of the el request with no matching ie request.

escape 32768 Unrecognized escape sequences. When an unrecog‐
nized escape sequence is encountered, the escape
character is ignored.

file 1048576 Indicates a missing file for the mso request.
Enabled by default.

font 131072 Non-existent fonts. This is enabled by default.

ig 262144 Invalid escapes in text ignored with the ig
request. These are conditions that are errors when
they do not occur in ignored text.

input 16384 Invalid input characters.

mac 512 Use of undefined strings, macros and diversions.
When an undefined string, macro or diversion is
used, that string is automatically defined as
empty. So, in most cases, at most one warning will
be given for each name.

missing 8192 Requests that are missing non-optional arguments.

number 2 Invalid numeric expressions. This is enabled by

range 64 Out of range arguments.

reg 1024 Use of undefined number registers. When an unde‐
fined number register is used, that register is
automatically defined to have a value of 0. So, in
most cases, at most one warning will be given for
use of a particular name.

right-brace 4096 Use of \} where a number was expected.

scale 32 Meaningless scaling indicators.

space 65536 Missing space between a request or macro and its
argument. This warning will be given when an unde‐
fined name longer than two characters is encoun‐
tered, and the first two characters of the name
make a defined name. The request or macro will not
be invoked. When this warning is given, no macro
is automatically defined. This is enabled by
default. This warning will never occur in compati‐
bility mode.

syntax 128 Dubious syntax in numeric expressions.

tab 2048 Inappropriate use of a tab character. Either use
of a tab character where a number was expected, or
use of tab character in an unquoted macro argument.

There are also names that can be used to refer to groups of warnings:

all All warnings except di, mac, and reg. It is intended that this
covers all warnings that are useful with traditional macro pack‐

w All warnings.

A colon separated list of directories in which to search for
macro files. troff will scan directories given in the -M option
before these, and in standard directories (current directory if
in unsafe mode, home directory, /usr/lib/groff/site-tmac,
/usr/share/groff/site-tmac, /usr/share/groff/1.22.3/tmac) after

Default device.

A colon separated list of directories in which to search for the
devname directory. troff will scan directories given in the -F
option before these, and in standard directories
(/usr/share/groff/site-font, /usr/share/groff/1.22.3/font,
/usr/lib/font) after these.

Initialization file (called before any other macro package).

Initialization file (called after any other macro package).

Macro files

Device description file for device name.

Font file for font F of device name.

Note that troffrc and troffrc-end are neither searched in the current
nor in the home directory by default for security reasons (even if the
-U option is given). Use the -M command line option or the
GROFF_TMAC_PATH environment variable to add these directories to the
search path if necessary.


The main program of the groff system, a wrapper around troff.

A description of the groff language, including a short but com‐
plete reference of all predefined requests, registers, and
escapes of plain groff. From the command line, this is called

man 7 groff

The differences of the groff language and the classical troff
language. Currently, this is the most actual document of the
groff system.

An overview over groff and other roff systems, including point‐
ers to further related documentation.

The groff info file, cf. info, presents all groff documentation
within a single document.

Copyright © 1989-2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

This file is part of groff, the GNU roff type-setting system, which is
a GNU free software project..

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or
any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with the
Invariant Sections being this .ig-section and AUTHOR, with no Front-
Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.

A copy of the Free Documentation License is included as a file called
FDL in the main directory of the groff source package.

This file was originally written by James Clark, it was modified by
Werner Lemberg ⟨⟩ and Bernd Warken ⟨groff-⟩.

Groff Version 1.22.3 28 January 2016 TROFF(1)

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