Section: File Formats (5)
Updated: 21 August 2002
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groff_tmac - macro files in the roff typesetting system
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 name is deduced from
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,
GROFF MACRO PACKAGES
provides all classical macro packages, some more full packages, and
some secondary packages for special purposes.
This is the classical macro package for UNIX manual pages
(man~pages); it is quite handy and easy to use; see
An alternative macro package for man~pages mainly used in BSD
systems; it provides many new features, but it is not the standard for
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
macro package; see
macro package; see
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.
macro package; see
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.
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.
Additions of elements known from the html format, as being used in the
internet (World Wide Web) pages; this includes URL links and mail
In classical roff systems, there was a funny naming scheme for macro
packages, due to a simplistic design in option parsing.
Macro packages were always included by option
when this option was directly followed by its argument without an
intervening space, this looked like a long option preceded by a single
minus [em] a sensation in the computer stone age.
To make this optically working for macro package names, all classical
macro packages choose a name that started with the letter
which was omitted in the naming of the macro file.
For example, the macro package for the man pages was called
while its macro file
So it could be activated by the argument
For similar reasons, macro packages that did not start with an
had a leading
added in the documentation and in talking; for example, the package
in the documentation, although a more suitable name would be
For, when omitting the space between the option and its argument, the
command line option for activating this package reads
To cope with all situations, actual versions of
are smart about both naming schemes by providing two macro files
for the inflicted macro packages; one with a leading
the other one without it.
macro package may be specified as on of the following four methods:
Recent packages that do not start with
do not use an additional
in the documentation.
For example, the
macro package may be specified only as one of the two methods:
Obviously, variants like
would not make much sense.
A second strange feature of classical troff was to name macro files
In modern operating systems, the type of a file is specified as
postfix, the file name extension.
Again, groff copes with this situation by searching both
The easiest way to find out which macro packages are available on a
system is to check the man~page
or the contents of the
most macro packages are described in~man pages called
with a leading
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
at run-time; this makes the contents of the macro package
In groff, the file
is searched within the tmac path; if not found,
will be searched for instead.
Alternatively, it is also possible to include a macro file by adding
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
which added searching in the tmac path, just like option
Note that in order to resolve the
requests, the roff preprocessor
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
calls soelim automatically.
For example, suppose a macro file is stored as
and is used in some document called
At run-time, the formatter call for this is
ell_cmd groff~-m~ macrofile~document.roff
To include the macro file directly in the document either
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