GROFF_TMAC(5)                 File Formats Manual                GROFF_TMAC(5)

       groff_tmac - macro files in the roff typesetting system

       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 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

       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
              orthography, 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 handled
              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.  Normally,
              this macro is loaded at the very beginning of a document 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

       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
       limitation is present only for devices which have a limited set of
       output glyphs (-Tascii, -Tlatin1); for other devices it is usually
       sufficient 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
              integers, 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

       hdtbl  The Heidelberger table macros, contributed by Joachim Walsdorff,
              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 interface
              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 picture.
              Use it only if your macro package doesn't provide proper
              definitions for those two macros (actually, most of them already

       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


                     .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 diversion'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 formatting
              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).

       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.

       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

       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/share/groff/1.22.4/tmac/macros.tmac

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

              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.

       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

       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
       positional 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 predefined
       groff elements for setting the font within the text.  Of course, this
       behavior does not change, so no doubling with \f[I] and \f[].

   Draft Mode
       Writing groff macros is easy when the escaping mechanism is temporarily
       disabled.  In groff, this is done by enclosing the macro definition(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

   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
              handles 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 following macro
              just ignores its arguments, so it acts like a comment 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 leading

       Diversions can be used to implement quite advanced programming
       constructs.  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
       desperate 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 outside, and
       to all calls of diversions.  This is a bit of overkill, but it works

       [If you really need diversions which should ignore the current partial
       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.

       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

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

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

       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

groff 1.22.4                   23 December 2019                  GROFF_TMAC(5)