GROFF_TMAC(5)GROFF_TMAC(5)NAMEgroff_tmac - macro files in the roff typesetting system
The roff(7) type-setting system provides a set of macro packages suit‐
able 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 `Troff MACros'.
The tmac files are normal roff source documents, except that they usu‐
ally contain only definitions and setup commands, but no text. All
tmac files are kept in a single or a small number of directories, the
In classical roff systems, there was a funny naming scheme. If the
name of a macro package started with `m' this letter was omitted, e.g.,
the macro package for the man pages man was called an and its macro
file tmac.an (note that in recent versions of groff this file is called
By a similar reasoning, macro packages that did not start with an `m'
were often referred to by adding an `m', e.g., the package correspond‐
ing to tmac.doc was called mdoc because the command-line for activating
Actual versions of groff(1) provide both naming schemes for the
inflicted macro packages, with and without the leading `m'. So in
groff, the man macro package may be specified as
groff -m man,
groff -mman, or
groff -m an.
The easiest way to find out which macro packages are available on a
system is to check the contents of the tmac directories. For example,
a file called tmac.anything or anything.tmac determines a macro package
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 documents. At run-
time, the groff option -m name makes the definitions in the macro file
name.tmac available as described in the section NAMING. If this file
isn't found, tmac.name will be searched.
It is also possible to include the macro file into the document by
using the groff requests .so or .mso. For .so the full filename of the
macro file must be specified — including the directory where it is
kept. If the macro file is stored in one of the tmac directories it is
more convenient to use .mso instead because it searches the tmac path
for the filename. Additionally, if the file name to be included has
the form name.tmac and it isn't found, .mso will try to open tmac.name
instead and vice versa.
Note that in order to resolve the .so and .mso requests the roff pre‐
processor soelim must be called if the files to be included needs pre‐
processing. This can be done either directly by a pipeline on the com‐
mand line or by using the -s option of groff.
You can also supply the letter `s' in the preprocessor word as
described in section CONVENTION.
For example, suppose a macro file is stored as /freeware/gnu-
tools/share/groff/1.17.2/tmac/macros.tmac and is used in some document
At run-time, the formatter call for this is
groff -m macros docu.roff
To include the macro file directly in the document either
is used or
In both cases, the formatter is called with
groff -s docu.roff
There is a convention that is supported by many modern roff type-set‐
ters: the preprocessor word described in the following.
If the first line in a document is a comment, the first word (after the
comment characters and a blank) constitutes the preprocessor word.
That means that the letters of this word are interpreted as abbrevia‐
tions for those preprocessor commands that should be run when format‐
ting the document. Mostly, only the letters corresponding to the
options for the preprocessors are recognized, `e', `G', `g', `p', `R',
`s', and `t' (see roff(7)).
Besides being a good reminder for the user, some formatters (like the
man(1) program) are even able to automatically start the preprocessors
specified in the preprocessor word, but do not bet on this.
WRITING A MACRO FILE
Writing a groff macro file is easy. Design a set of macros, strings,
registers, etc. Store them in a single file. Documents that use the
macros include this macro file with the .so request as described in the
To use the tmac functionality, call the macro file whatever.tmac (or
tmac.whatever) and put it in some directory of the tmac path, cf. sec‐
tion FILES. Then documents can include it with the .mso request or the
groff -m option as described in the INCLUSION section.
If your macros might be of general usage contact the groff maintainers
to have them included in the groff contrib source directory.
Some general guidelines might be helpful in writing macros.
· Double all functional backslashes, `\' -> `\\'.
· All printable backslashes must be written as `\e'.
· Escape all dots, `.' -> `\.'.
· Make ample use of the non-printable character `\&' in text parts,
esp. before `\' and at the beginning of a line, but not before a
· Use the character `@' in temporary variable names.
· Test your macros for text and graphical devices, e.g., latin1 and ps.
All macro names must be named name.tmac or tmac.name to use the tmac
The macro files are kept in the tmac directories, all of which consti‐
tute the tmac path.
The elements of the search path for macro files are (in that order):
· the directories specified with troff's resp. groff's -M command
· the directories given in the GROFF_TMAC_PATH environment variable
· the current directory (only if in unsafe mode using the -U command
· the home directory
· a site-specific (platform-independent) directory, a platform-spe‐
cific directory, and the main tmac directory:
A colon separated list of additional tmac directories in which
to search for macro files. See the previous section for a
The groff documentation is in evolution at the moment. It is possible
that small inconsistencies between different documents exist temporar‐
This document is part of groff, the GNU roff distribution. It was
written by Bernd Warken <email@example.com>.
It is distributed under the terms of the FDL (GNU Free Documentation
License) version 1.1 or later. You should have received a copy of the
FDL on your system, it is also available on-line under
The authoritative source of information for all details of the groff
system is the groff info(1) file.
For a groff overview, see roff(7) and the file README in the groff
The groff tmac macro packages are groff_man(7), groff_mwww(7),
groff_mdoc(7), groff_mdoc.samples(7), groff_me(7), groff_mm(7),
groff_mmroff(7), and groff_ms(7).
The groff language is described in groff(7) and the formatters in
The Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS) is available at
Groff Version 1.17.2 27 June 2001 GROFF_TMAC(5)