Creating Manpages with groff

A Call for New Manpages!

Article from Issue 51/2005

Do have difficulty remembering

command syntax? It often pays to

check the manpage. In this issue of

Command Line,we look at how to

create your own manpages,and

how to convert manpages to other


Good documentation is almost as

important as good programming.

It even makes sense to document

the major functions in the most trivial of

your own scripts, to save you from racking

your brains later when you need to

change something. Manpages give users

tips on usage and details on command

syntax options. Some manpages also

include examples or references to related


Users can read manpages in a terminal

window, and they can convert a manpage

quickly and easily to another

format such as HTML, PostScript, or

PDF. Manual pages are traditionally created

using the text formating tool groff.

The first version of this program

appeared on legacy Unix systems, where

it was known as roff (= “run off”). Later

developments of the document formatter

were called nroff and troff; groff is the

GNU version for the current crop of

Linux systems. This article shows how to

use groff to write a manpage and how to

convert that manpage into other formats.

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