grops Man page

GROPS(1) General Commands Manual GROPS(1)


grops – PostScript driver for groff


grops [-glmv] [-b n] [-c n] [-F dir] [-I dir] [-p papersize] [-P prologue] [-w n] [files …]


grops translates the output of GNU troff to PostScript. Normally grops
should be invoked by using the groff command with a -Tps option.
(Actually, this is the default for groff.) If no files are given,
grops reads the standard input. A filename of – also causes grops to
read the standard input. PostScript output is written to the standard
output. When grops is run by groff options can be passed to grops
using groff’s -P option.

Note that grops doesn’t produce a valid document structure (conforming
to the Document Structuring Convention) if called with multiple file
arguments. To print such concatenated output it is necessary to deac‐
tivate DSC handling in the printing program or previewer. See section
FONT INSTALLATION below for a guide how to install fonts for grops.


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

-bn Provide workarounds for older printers, broken spoolers, and
previewers. Normally grops produces output at PostScript Lan‐
guageLevel 2 that conforms to the Document Structuring Conven‐
tions version 3.0. Some older printers, spoolers, and preview‐
ers can’t handle such output. The value of n controls what
grops does to make its output acceptable to such programs. A
value of 0 causes grops not to employ any workarounds.

Add 1 if no %%BeginDocumentSetup and %%EndDocumentSetup comments
should be generated; this is needed for early versions of Tran‐
Script that get confused by anything between the %%EndProlog
comment and the first %%Page comment.

Add 2 if lines in included files beginning with %! should be
stripped out; this is needed for Sun’s pageview previewer.

Add 4 if %%Page, %%Trailer and %%EndProlog comments should be
stripped out of included files; this is needed for spoolers that
don’t understand the %%BeginDocument and %%EndDocument comments.

Add 8 if the first line of the PostScript output should be %!PS-
Adobe-2.0 rather than %!PS-Adobe-3.0; this is needed when using
Sun’s Newsprint with a printer that requires page reversal.

Add 16 if no media size information should be included in the
document (this is, neither use %%DocumentMedia nor the set‐
pagedevice PostScript command). This was the behaviour of groff
version 1.18.1 and earlier; it is needed for older printers
which don’t understand PostScript LanguageLevel 2. It is also
necessary if the output is further processed to get an encapsu‐
lated PS (EPS) file – see below.

The default value can be specified by a

broken n

command in the DESC file. Otherwise the default value is 0.

-cn Print n copies of each page.

-Fdir Prepend directory dir/devname to the search path for prologue,
font, and device description files; name is the name of the
device, usually ps.

-g Guess the page length. This generates PostScript code that
guesses the page length. The guess is correct only if the
imageable area is vertically centered on the page. This option
allows you to generate documents that can be printed both on
letter (8.5×11) paper and on A4 paper without change.

-Idir This option may be used to add a directory to the search path
for files on the command line and files named in \X’ps: import’
and \X’ps: file’ escapes. 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 specified
(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

-l Print the document in landscape format.

-m Turn manual feed on for the document.

Set physical dimension of output medium. This overrides the
papersize, paperlength, and paperwidth commands in the DESC
file; it accepts the same arguments as the papersize command.
See groff_font (5) for details.

Use the file prologue-file (in the font path) as the prologue
instead of the default prologue file prologue. This option
overrides the environment variable GROPS_PROLOGUE.

-wn Lines should be drawn using a thickness of n thousandths of an
em. If this option is not given, the line thickness defaults to
0.04 em.

-v Print the version number.

The input to grops must be in the format output by troff. 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 mul‐
tiple of 72 times the sizescale. The ps device uses a resolution of
72000 and a sizescale of 1000.

The device description file must contain a valid paper size; see
groff_font(5) for more information.

Each font description file must contain a command

internalname psname

which says that the PostScript name of the font is psname. It may also
contain a command

encoding enc_file

which says that the PostScript font should be reencoded using the
encoding described in enc_file; this file should consist of a sequence
of lines of the form:

pschar code

where pschar is the PostScript name of the character, and code is its
position in the encoding expressed as a decimal integer; valid values
are in the range 0 to 255. Lines starting with # and blank lines are
ignored. The code for each character given in the font file must cor‐
respond to the code for the character in encoding file, or to the code
in the default encoding for the font if the PostScript font is not to
be reencoded. 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 Post‐
Script font, and the widths given in the font file must match the
widths used in the PostScript font. grops assumes that a character
with a groff name of space is blank (makes no marks on the page); it
can make use of such a character to generate more efficient and compact
PostScript output.

Note that grops is able to display all glyphs in a PostScript font, not
only 256. enc_file (or the default encoding if no encoding file speci‐
fied) just defines the order of glyphs for the first 256 characters;
all other glyphs are accessed with additional encoding vectors which
grops produces on the fly.

grops can automatically include the downloadable fonts necessary to
print the document. Such fonts must be in PFA format. Use pfbtops
to convert a Type 1 font in PFB format. Any downloadable fonts which
should, when required, be included by grops must be listed in the file
/usr/share/groff/1.22.3/font/devps/download; this should consist of
lines of the form

font filename

where 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 may be separated by tabs or spaces; filename is
searched for using the same mechanism that is used for groff font met‐
ric files. The download file itself is also searched for using this
mechanism; currently, only the first found file in the font path is

If the file containing a downloadable font or imported document con‐
forms to the Adobe Document Structuring Conventions, then grops inter‐
prets any comments in the files sufficiently to ensure that its own
output is conforming. It also supplies any needed font resources that
are listed in the download file as well as any needed file resources.
It is also able to handle inter-resource dependencies. For example,
suppose that you have a downloadable font called Garamond, and also a
downloadable font called Garamond-Outline which depends on Garamond
(typically it would be defined to copy Garamond’s font dictionary, and
change the PaintType), then it is necessary for Garamond to appear
before Garamond-Outline in the PostScript document. grops handles this
automatically provided that the downloadable font file for Garamond-
Outline indicates its dependence on Garamond by means of the Document
Structuring Conventions, for example by beginning with the following

%!PS-Adobe-3.0 Resource-Font
%%DocumentNeededResources: font Garamond
%%IncludeResource: font Garamond

In this case both Garamond and Garamond-Outline would need to be listed
in the download file. A downloadable font should not include its own
name in a %%DocumentSuppliedResources comment.

grops does not interpret %%DocumentFonts comments. The %%Document‐
NeededResources, %%DocumentSuppliedResources, %%IncludeResource,
%%BeginResource, and %%EndResource comments (or possibly the old
%%DocumentNeededFonts, %%DocumentSuppliedFonts, %%IncludeFont, %%Begin‐
Font, and %%EndFont comments) should be used.

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 these styles:

AR AvantGarde-Book
AI AvantGarde-BookOblique
AB AvantGarde-Demi
ABI AvantGarde-DemiOblique
BMR Bookman-Light
BMI Bookman-LightItalic
BMB Bookman-Demi
BMBI Bookman-DemiItalic
CR Courier
CI Courier-Oblique
CB Courier-Bold
CBI Courier-BoldOblique
HR Helvetica
HI Helvetica-Oblique
HB Helvetica-Bold
HBI Helvetica-BoldOblique
HNR Helvetica-Narrow
HNI Helvetica-Narrow-Oblique
HNB Helvetica-Narrow-Bold
HNBI Helvetica-Narrow-BoldOblique
NR NewCenturySchlbk-Roman
NI NewCenturySchlbk-Italic
NB NewCenturySchlbk-Bold
NBI NewCenturySchlbk-BoldItalic
PR Palatino-Roman
PI Palatino-Italic
PB Palatino-Bold
PBI Palatino-BoldItalic
TR Times-Roman
TI Times-Italic
TB Times-Bold
TBI Times-BoldItalic

There is also the following font which is not a member of a family:

ZCMI ZapfChancery-MediumItalic

There are also some special fonts called S for the PS Symbol font, and
SS, containing slanted lowercase Greek letters taken from PS Symbol.
Zapf Dingbats is available as ZD, and a reversed version of ZapfDing‐
bats (with symbols pointing in the opposite direction) is available as
ZDR; most characters in these fonts are unnamed and must be accessed
using \N.

The default color for \m and \M is black; for colors defined in the
‘rgb’ color space setrgbcolor is used, for ‘cmy’ and ‘cmyk’ setcmyk‐
color, and for ‘gray’ setgray. Note that setcmykcolor is a PostScript
LanguageLevel 2 command and thus not available on some older printers.

grops understands various X commands produced using the \X escape
sequence; grops only interprets commands that begin with a ps: tag.

\X’ps: exec code’
This executes the arbitrary PostScript commands in code. The
PostScript currentpoint is set to the position of the \X command
before executing code. The origin is at the top left corner of
the page, and y coordinates increase down the page. A proce‐
dure u is defined that converts groff units to the coordinate
system in effect (provided the user doesn’t change the scale).
For example,

.nr x 1i
\X’ps: exec \nx u 0 rlineto stroke’

draws a horizontal line one inch long. code may make changes to
the graphics state, but any changes persist only to the end of
the page. A dictionary containing the definitions specified by
the def and mdef is on top of the dictionary stack. If your
code adds definitions to this dictionary, you should allocate
space for them using \X’ps mdef n’. Any definitions persist
only until the end of the page. If you use the \Y escape
sequence with an argument that names a macro, code can extend
over multiple lines. For example,

.nr x 1i
.de y
ps: exec
\nx u 0 rlineto

is another way to draw a horizontal line one inch long. Note
the single backslash before ‘nx’ – the only reason to use a num‐
ber register while defining the macro ‘y’ is to convert a user-
specified dimension ‘1i’ to internal groff units which are in
turn converted to PS units with the u procedure.

grops wraps user-specified PostScript code into a dictionary,
nothing more. In particular, it doesn’t start and end the
inserted code with save and restore, respectively. This must be
supplied by the user, if necessary.

\X’ps: file name’
This is the same as the exec command except that the PostScript
code is read from file name.

\X’ps: def code’
Place a PostScript definition contained in code in the prologue.
There should be at most one definition per \X command. Long
definitions can be split over several \X commands; all the code
arguments are simply joined together separated by newlines. The
definitions are placed in a dictionary which is automatically
pushed on the dictionary stack when an exec command is executed.
If you use the \Y escape sequence with an argument that names a
macro, code can extend over multiple lines.

\X’ps: mdef n code’
Like def, except that code may contain up to n definitions.
grops needs to know how many definitions code contains so that
it can create an appropriately sized PostScript dictionary to
contain them.

\X’ps: import file llx lly urx ury width [ height ]’
Import a PostScript graphic from file. The arguments llx, lly,
urx, and ury give the bounding box of the graphic in the default
PostScript coordinate system; they should all be integers; llx
and lly are the x and y coordinates of the lower left corner of
the graphic; urx and ury are the x and y coordinates of the
upper right corner of the graphic; width and height are integers
that give the desired width and height in groff units of the

The graphic is scaled so that it has this width and height and
translated so that the lower left corner of the graphic is
located at the position associated with \X command. If the
height argument is omitted it is scaled uniformly in the x and
y directions so that it has the specified width.

Note that the contents of the \X command are not interpreted by
troff; so vertical space for the graphic is not automatically
added, and the width and height arguments are not allowed to
have attached scaling indicators.

If the PostScript file complies with the Adobe Document Struc‐
turing Conventions and contains a %%BoundingBox comment, then
the bounding box can be automatically extracted from within
groff by using the psbb request.

See groff_tmac(5) for a description of the PSPIC macro which
provides a convenient high-level interface for inclusion of
PostScript graphics.

\X’ps: invis’
\X’ps: endinvis’
No output is generated for text and drawing commands that are
bracketed with these \X commands. These commands are intended
for use when output from troff is previewed before being pro‐
cessed with grops; if the previewer is unable to display certain
characters or other constructs, then other substitute characters
or constructs can be used for previewing by bracketing them with
these \X commands.

For example, gxditview is not able to display a proper \(em
character because the standard X11 fonts do not provide it; this
problem can be overcome by executing the following request

.char \(em \X’ps: invis’\
\Z’\v’-.25m’\h’.05m’\D’l .9m 0’\h’.05m”\
\X’ps: endinvis’\(em

In this case, gxditview is unable to display the \(em character
and draws the line, whereas grops prints the \(em character and
ignores the line (this code is already in file Xps.tmac which is
loaded if a document intended for grops is previewed with

If a PostScript procedure BPhook has been defined via a ‘ps: def’ or
‘ps: mdef’ device command, it is executed at the beginning of every
page (before anything is drawn or written by groff). For example, to
underlay the page contents with the word ‘DRAFT’ in light gray, you
might use

.de XX
ps: def
{ gsave .9 setgray clippath pathbbox exch 2 copy
.5 mul exch .5 mul translate atan rotate pop pop
/NewCenturySchlbk-Roman findfont 200 scalefont setfont
(DRAFT) dup stringwidth pop -.5 mul -70 moveto show
grestore }
.devicem XX

Or, to cause lines and polygons to be drawn with square linecaps and
mitered linejoins instead of the round linecaps and linejoins normally
used by grops, use

.de XX
ps: def
/BPhook { 2 setlinecap 0 setlinejoin } def
.devicem XX

(square linecaps, as opposed to butt linecaps (0 setlinecap), give true
corners in boxed tables even though the lines are drawn unconnected).

Encapsulated PostScript
grops itself doesn’t emit bounding box information. With the help of
Ghostscript the following simple script, groff2eps, produces an encap‐
sulated PS file.

#! /bin/sh
groff -P-b16 $1 > $
gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=bbox — $ 2> $1.bbox
sed -e “/^%%Orientation/r $1.bbox” \
-e “/^%!PS-Adobe-3.0/s/$/ EPSF-3.0/” $ > $1.eps
rm $ $1.bbox

Just say

groff2eps foo

to convert file foo to foo.eps.

TrueType and other font formats
TrueType fonts can be used with grops if converted first to Type 42
format, a special PostScript wrapper equivalent to the PFA format men‐
tioned in pfbtops. There are several different methods to generate
a type42 wrapper and most of them involve the use of a PostScript
interpreter such as Ghostscript – see gs.

Yet, the easiest method involves the use of the application
ttftot42(1). This program uses freetype(3) (version 1.3.1) to generate
type42 font wrappers and well-formed AFM files that can be fed to the
afmtodit(1) script to create appropriate metric files. The resulting
font wrappers should be added to the download file. ttftot42 source
code can be downloaded from

Another solution for creating type42 wrappers is to use FontForge,
available from ⟨⟩. This
font editor can convert most outline font formats.

This section gives a summary of the above explanations; it can serve as
a step-by-step font installation guide for grops.

· Convert your font to something groff understands. This is either a
PostScript Type 1 font in PFA format or a PostScript Type 42 font,
together with an AFM file.

The very first characters in a PFA file look like this:


A PFB file has this also in the first line, but the string is pre‐
ceded with some binary bytes.

The very first characters in a Type 42 font file look like this:


This is a wrapper format for TrueType fonts. Old PS printers might
not support it (this is, they don’t have a built-in TrueType font

If your font is in PFB format (such fonts normally have ‘.pfb’ as
the file extension), you might use groff’s pfbtops program to
convert it to PFA. For TrueType fonts, try ttftot42 or fontforge.
For all other font formats use fontforge which can convert most
outline font formats.

· Convert the AFM file to a groff font description file with the
afmtodit(1) program. An example call is

afmtodit Foo-Bar-Bold.afm textmap FBB

which converts the metric file ‘Foo-Bar-Bold.afm’ to the groff font
‘FBB’. If you have a font family which comes with normal, bold,
italic, and bold italic faces, it is recommended to use the letters
R, B, I, and BI, respectively, as postfixes in the groff font names
to make groff’s ‘.fam’ request work. An example is groff’s built-
in Times-Roman font: The font family name is T, and the groff font
names are TR, TB, TI, and TBI.

· Install both the groff font description files and the fonts in a
‘devps’ subdirectory of the font path which groff finds. See the
ENVIRONMENT section in the troff man page which lists the actual
value of the font path. Note that groff doesn’t use the AFM files
(but it is a good idea to store them anyway).

· Register all fonts which must be downloaded to the printer in the
‘devps/download’ file. Only the first occurrence of this file in
the font path is read. This means that you should copy the default
‘download’ file to the first directory in your font path and add
your fonts there. To continue the above example we assume that the
PS font name for Foo-Bar-Bold.pfa is ‘XY-Foo-Bar-Bold’ (the PS font
name is stored in the internalname field in the ‘FBB’ file), thus
the following line should be added to ’download’.

XY-Foo-Bar-Bold Foo-Bar-Bold.pfa

groff versions 1.19.2 and earlier contain a slightly different set of
the 35 Adobe core fonts; the difference is mainly the lack of the
‘Euro’ glyph and a reduced set of kerning pairs. For backwards compat‐
ibility, these old fonts are installed also in the



To use them, make sure that grops finds the fonts before the default
system fonts (with the same names): Either add command line option -F
to grops

groff -Tps -P-F -P/usr/share/groff/1.22.3/oldfont …

or add the directory to groff’s font path environment variable


If this is set to foo, then grops uses the file foo (in the font
path) instead of the default prologue file prologue. The option
-P overrides this environment variable.

A list of directories in which to search for the devname direc‐
tory in addition to the default ones. See troff and
groff_font(5) for more details.

A timestamp (expressed as seconds since the Unix epoch) to use
as the creation timestamp in place of the current time.

Device description file.

Font description file for font F.

List of downloadable fonts.

Encoding used for text fonts.

Macros for use with grops; automatically loaded by troffrc

Definition of PSPIC macro, automatically loaded by ps.tmac.

Macros to disable use of characters not present in older Post‐
Script printers (e.g., ‘eth’ or ‘thorn’).

Temporary file. See groff for details on the location of
temporary files.


afmtodit(1), groff, troff, pfbtops, groff_out(5),
groff_font(5), groff_char(7), groff_tmac(5)

PostScript Language Document Structuring Conventions Specification

Copyright © 1989-2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that the
entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a per‐
mission notice identical to this one.

Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this man‐
ual into another language, under the above conditions for modified ver‐
sions, except that this permission notice may be included in transla‐
tions approved by the Free Software Foundation instead of in the origi‐
nal English.

Groff Version 1.22.3 28 January 2016 GROPS(1)

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