MDOC(7) Miscellaneous Information Manual MDOC(7)

mdocsemantic markup language for formatting manual pages

The mdoc language supports authoring of manual pages for the man(1) utility by allowing semantic annotations of words, phrases, page sections and complete manual pages. Such annotations are used by formatting tools to achieve a uniform presentation across all manuals written in mdoc, and to support hyperlinking if supported by the output medium.

This reference document describes the structure of manual pages and the syntax and usage of the mdoc language. The reference implementation of a parsing and formatting tool is mandoc(1); the COMPATIBILITY section describes compatibility with other implementations.

In an mdoc document, lines beginning with the control character ‘.’ are called “macro lines”. The first word is the macro name. It consists of two or three letters. Most macro names begin with a capital letter. For a list of available macros, see MACRO OVERVIEW. The words following the macro name are arguments to the macro, optionally including the names of other, callable macros; see MACRO SYNTAX for details.

Lines not beginning with the control character are called “text lines”. They provide free-form text to be printed; the formatting of the text depends on the respective processing context:

.Sh Macro lines change control state.
Text lines are interpreted within the current state.

Many aspects of the basic syntax of the mdoc language are based on the roff(7) language; see the and sections in the roff(7) manual for details, in particular regarding comments, escape sequences, whitespace, and quoting. However, using roff(7) requests in mdoc documents is discouraged; mandoc(1) supports some of them merely for backward compatibility.

A well-formed mdoc document consists of a document prologue followed by one or more sections.

The prologue, which consists of the Dd, Dt, and Os macros in that order, is required for every document.

The first section (sections are denoted by Sh) must be the NAME section, consisting of at least one Nm followed by Nd.

Following that, convention dictates specifying at least the SYNOPSIS and DESCRIPTION sections, although this varies between manual sections.

The following is a well-formed skeleton mdoc file for a utility "progname":

.Dd $Mdocdate$
.Dt PROGNAME section
.Nm progname
.Nd one line about what it does
.\" For sections 2, 3, and 9 only.
.\" Not used in OpenBSD.
.Nm progname
.Op Fl options
utility processes files ...
.\" For section 9 functions only.
.\" Not used in OpenBSD.
.\" For sections 2, 3, and 9 function return values only.
.\" For sections 1, 6, 7, and 8 only.
.\" .Sh FILES
.\" For sections 1, 6, and 8 only.
.\" For sections 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9 printf/stderr messages only.
.\" .Sh ERRORS
.\" For sections 2, 3, 4, and 9 errno settings only.
.\" .Sh SEE ALSO
.\" .Xr foobar 1
.\" .Sh BUGS
.\" Not used in OpenBSD.

The sections in an mdoc document are conventionally ordered as they appear above. Sections should be composed as follows:

The name(s) and a one line description of the documented material. The syntax for this as follows:
.Nm name0 ,
.Nm name1 ,
.Nm name2
.Nd a one line description

Multiple ‘Nm’ names should be separated by commas.

The Nm macro(s) must precede the Nd macro.

See Nm and Nd.

The name of the library containing the documented material, which is assumed to be a function in a section 2, 3, or 9 manual. The syntax for this is as follows:
.Lb libarm

See Lb.

Documents the utility invocation syntax, function call syntax, or device configuration.

For the first, utilities (sections 1, 6, and 8), this is generally structured as follows:

.Nm bar
.Op Fl v
.Op Fl o Ar file
.Op Ar
.Nm foo
.Op Fl v
.Op Fl o Ar file
.Op Ar

Commands should be ordered alphabetically.

For the second, function calls (sections 2, 3, 9):

.In header.h
.Vt extern const char *global;
.Ft "char *"
.Fn foo "const char *src"
.Ft "char *"
.Fn bar "const char *src"

Ordering of In, Vt, Fn, and Fo macros should follow C header-file conventions.

And for the third, configurations (section 4):

.Cd "it* at isa? port 0x2e"
.Cd "it* at isa? port 0x4e"

Manuals not in these sections generally don't need a SYNOPSIS.

Some macros are displayed differently in the SYNOPSIS section, particularly Nm, Cd, Fd, Fn, Fo, In, Vt, and Ft. All of these macros are output on their own line. If two such dissimilar macros are pairwise invoked (except for Ft before Fo or Fn), they are separated by a vertical space, unless in the case of Fo, Fn, and Ft, which are always separated by vertical space.

When text and macros following an Nm macro starting an input line span multiple output lines, all output lines but the first will be indented to align with the text immediately following the Nm macro, up to the next Nm, Sh, or Ss macro or the end of an enclosing block, whichever comes first.

This begins with an expansion of the brief, one line description in NAME:
utility does this, that, and the other.

It usually follows with a breakdown of the options (if documenting a command), such as:

The options are as follows:
.Bl -tag -width Ds
.It Fl v
Print verbose information.

List the options in alphabetical order, uppercase before lowercase for each letter and with no regard to whether an option takes an argument. Put digits in ascending order before all letter options.

Manuals not documenting a command won't include the above fragment.

Since the DESCRIPTION section usually contains most of the text of a manual, longer manuals often use the Ss macro to form subsections. In very long manuals, the DESCRIPTION may be split into multiple sections, each started by an Sh macro followed by a non-standard section name, and each having several subsections, like in the present mdoc manual.

This section lists the contexts in which functions can be called in section 9. The contexts are autoconf, process, or interrupt.
Implementation-specific notes should be kept here. This is useful when implementing standard functions that may have side effects or notable algorithmic implications.
This section documents the return values of functions in sections 2, 3, and 9.

See Rv.

Lists the environment variables used by the utility, and explains the syntax and semantics of their values. The environ(7) manual provides examples of typical content and formatting.

See Ev.

Documents files used. It's helpful to document both the file name and a short description of how the file is used (created, modified, etc.).

See Pa.

This section documents the command exit status for section 1, 6, and 8 utilities. Historically, this information was described in DIAGNOSTICS, a practise that is now discouraged.

See Ex.

Example usages. This often contains snippets of well-formed, well-tested invocations. Make sure that examples work properly!
Documents error messages. In section 4 and 9 manuals, these are usually messages printed by the kernel to the console and to the kernel log. In section 1, 6, 7, and 8, these are usually messages printed by userland programs to the standard error output.

Historically, this section was used in place of EXIT STATUS for manuals in sections 1, 6, and 8; however, this practise is discouraged.

See Bl -diag.

Documents errno(2) settings in sections 2, 3, 4, and 9.

See Er.

References other manuals with related topics. This section should exist for most manuals. Cross-references should conventionally be ordered first by section, then alphabetically (ignoring case).

References to other documentation concerning the topic of the manual page, for example authoritative books or journal articles, may also be provided in this section.

See Rs and Xr.

References any standards implemented or used. If not adhering to any standards, the HISTORY section should be used instead.

See St.

A brief history of the subject, including where it was first implemented, and when it was ported to or reimplemented for the operating system at hand.
Credits to the person or persons who wrote the code and/or documentation. Authors should generally be noted by both name and email address.

See An.

Common misuses and misunderstandings should be explained in this section.
Known bugs, limitations, and work-arounds should be described in this section.
Documents any security precautions that operators should consider.

This overview is sorted such that macros of similar purpose are listed together, to help find the best macro for any given purpose. Deprecated macros are not included in the overview, but can be found below in the alphabetical MACRO REFERENCE.

Dd document date: $Mdocdate$ | month day, year
Dt document title: TITLE section [arch]
Os operating system version: [system [version]]
Nm document name (one argument)
Nd document description (one line)

Sh section header (one line)
Ss subsection header (one line)
Sx internal cross reference to a section or subsection
Xr cross reference to another manual page: name section
Tg tag the definition of a term (<= 1 arguments)
Pp start a text paragraph (no arguments)

Bd, Ed display block: -type [-offset width] [-compact]
D1 indented display (one line)
Dl indented literal display (one line)
Ql in-line literal display: ‘text
Bl, El list block: -type [-width val] [-offset val] [-compact]
It list item (syntax depends on -type)
Ta table cell separator in Bl -column lists
Rs, %*, Re bibliographic block (references)

Pf prefix, no following horizontal space (one argument)
Ns roman font, no preceding horizontal space (no arguments)
Ap apostrophe without surrounding whitespace (no arguments)
Sm switch horizontal spacing mode: [on | off]
Bk, Ek keep block: -words

Nm start a SYNOPSIS block with the name of a utility
Fl command line options (flags) (>=0 arguments)
Cm command modifier (>0 arguments)
Ar command arguments (>=0 arguments)
Op, Oo, Oc optional syntax elements (enclosure)
Ic internal or interactive command (>0 arguments)
Ev environmental variable (>0 arguments)
Pa file system path (>=0 arguments)

Lb function library (one argument)
In include file (one argument)
Fd other preprocessor directive (>0 arguments)
Ft function type (>0 arguments)
Fo, Fc function block: funcname
Fn function name: funcname [argument ...]
Fa function argument (>0 arguments)
Vt variable type (>0 arguments)
Va variable name (>0 arguments)
Dv defined variable or preprocessor constant (>0 arguments)
Er error constant (>0 arguments)
Ev environmental variable (>0 arguments)

An author name (>0 arguments)
Lk hyperlink: uri [display_name]
Mt “mailto” hyperlink: localpart@domain
Cd kernel configuration declaration (>0 arguments)
Ad memory address (>0 arguments)
Ms mathematical symbol (>0 arguments)

Em italic font or underline (emphasis) (>0 arguments)
Sy boldface font (symbolic) (>0 arguments)
No return to roman font (normal) (>0 arguments)
Bf, Ef font block: -type | Em | Li | Sy

Dq, Do, Dc enclose in typographic double quotes: “text”
Qq, Qo, Qc enclose in typewriter double quotes: "text"
Sq, So, Sc enclose in single quotes: ‘text’
Pq, Po, Pc enclose in parentheses: (text)
Bq, Bo, Bc enclose in square brackets: [text]
Brq, Bro, Brc enclose in curly braces: {text}
Aq, Ao, Ac enclose in angle brackets: ⟨text⟩
Eo, Ec generic enclosure

Ex -std standard command exit values: [utility ...]
Rv -std standard function return values: [function ...]
St reference to a standards document (one argument)
Fx FreeBSD
Ox OpenBSD
Dx DragonFly

This section is a canonical reference of all macros, arranged alphabetically. For the scoping of individual macros, see MACRO SYNTAX.

first_name ... last_name
Author name of an Rs block. Multiple authors should each be accorded their own %A line. Author names should be ordered with full or abbreviated forename(s) first, then full surname.
Book title of an Rs block. This macro may also be used in a non-bibliographic context when referring to book titles.
Publication city or location of an Rs block.
[month day,] year
Publication date of an Rs block. Provide the full English name of the month and all four digits of the year.
Publisher or issuer name of an Rs block.
Journal name of an Rs block.
Issue number (usually for journals) of an Rs block.
Optional information of an Rs block.
Book or journal page number of an Rs block. Conventionally, the argument starts with ‘p.’ for a single page or ‘pp.’ for a range of pages, for example:

.%P pp. 42\(en47
Institutional author (school, government, etc.) of an Rs block. Multiple institutional authors should each be accorded their own %Q line.
Technical report name of an Rs block.
Article title of an Rs block. This macro may also be used in a non-bibliographical context when referring to article titles.
URI of reference document.
Volume number of an Rs block.
Close an Ao block. Does not have any tail arguments.
Memory address. Do not use this for postal addresses.


.Ad [0,$]
.Ad 0x00000000
An -split | | first_name ... last_name
Author name. Can be used both for the authors of the program, function, or driver documented in the manual, or for the authors of the manual itself. Requires either the name of an author or one of the following arguments:

Start a new output line before each subsequent invocation of An.
The opposite of -split.

The default is -nosplit. The effect of selecting either of the -split modes ends at the beginning of the AUTHORS section. In the AUTHORS section, the default is -nosplit for the first author listing and -split for all other author listings.


.An -nosplit
.An Kristaps Dzonsons Aq Mt
Begin a block enclosed by angle brackets. Does not have any head arguments. This macro is almost never useful. See Aq for more details.
Inserts an apostrophe without any surrounding whitespace. This is generally used as a grammatical device when referring to the verb form of a function.


.Fn execve Ap d
Aq line
Enclose the rest of the input line in angle brackets. The only important use case is for email addresses. See Mt for an example.

Occasionally, it is used for names of characters and keys, for example:

Press the
.Aq escape
key to ...

For URIs, use Lk instead, and In for “#include” directives. Never wrap Ar in Aq.

Since Aq usually renders with non-ASCII characters in non-ASCII output modes, do not use it where the ASCII characters ‘<’ and ‘>’ are required as syntax elements. Instead, use these characters directly in such cases, combining them with the macros Pf, Ns, or Eo as needed.

See also Ao.

Ar [placeholder ...]
Command arguments. If an argument is not provided, the string “file ...” is used as a default.


.Fl o Ar file
.Ar arg1 , arg2 .

The arguments to the Ar macro are names and placeholders for command arguments; for fixed strings to be passed verbatim as arguments, use Fl or Cm.

At [version]
Formats an AT&T UNIX version. Accepts one optional argument:

A version of AT&T UNIX.
A version of AT&T System V UNIX.

Note that these arguments do not begin with a hyphen.


.At V.1

See also Bsx, Bx, Dx, Fx, Nx, and Ox.

Close a Bo block. Does not have any tail arguments.
Bd -type [-offset width] [-compact]
Begin a display block. Display blocks are used to select a different indentation and justification than the one used by the surrounding text. They may contain both macro lines and text lines. By default, a display block is preceded by a vertical space.

The type must be one of the following:

Produce one output line from each input line, and center-justify each line. Using this display type is not recommended; many mdoc implementations render it poorly.
Change the positions of line breaks to fill each line, and left- and right-justify the resulting block.
Produce one output line from each input line, and do not justify the block at all. Preserve white space as it appears in the input. Always use a constant-width font. Use this for displaying source code.
Change the positions of line breaks to fill each line, and left-justify the resulting block.
The same as -literal, but using the same font as for normal text, which is a variable width font if supported by the output device.

The type must be provided first. Additional arguments may follow:

Indent the display by the width, which may be one of the following:
  • One of the pre-defined strings indent, the width of a standard indentation (six constant width characters); indent-two, twice indent; left, which has no effect; right, which justifies to the right margin; or center, which aligns around an imagined center axis.
  • A macro invocation, which selects a predefined width associated with that macro. The most popular is the imaginary macro Ds, which resolves to .
  • A scaling width as described in roff(7).
  • An arbitrary string, which indents by the length of this string.

When the argument is missing, -offset is ignored.

Do not assert vertical space before the display.


.Bd -literal -offset indent -compact
   Hello       world.

See also D1 and Dl.

Bf -emphasis | | | Em | Li | Sy
Change the font mode for a scoped block of text. The -emphasis and Em argument are equivalent, as are -symbolic and Sy, and -literal and Li. Without an argument, this macro does nothing. The font mode continues until broken by a new font mode in a nested scope or Ef is encountered.

See also Li, Ef, Em, and Sy.

Bk -words
For each macro, keep its output together on the same output line, until the end of the macro or the end of the input line is reached, whichever comes first. Line breaks in text lines are unaffected.

The -words argument is required; additional arguments are ignored.

The following example will not break within each Op macro line:

.Bk -words
.Op Fl f Ar flags
.Op Fl o Ar output

Be careful in using over-long lines within a keep block! Doing so will clobber the right margin.

Bl -type [-width val] [-offset val] [-compact] [col ...]
Begin a list. Lists consist of items specified using the It macro, containing a head or a body or both.

The list type is mandatory and must be specified first. The -width and -offset arguments accept macro names as described for Bd -offset, scaling widths as described in roff(7), or use the length of the given string. The -offset is a global indentation for the whole list, affecting both item heads and bodies. For those list types supporting it, the -width argument requests an additional indentation of item bodies, to be added to the -offset. Unless the -compact argument is specified, list entries are separated by vertical space.

A list must specify one of the following list types:

No item heads can be specified, but a bullet will be printed at the head of each item. Item bodies start on the same output line as the bullet and are indented according to the -width argument.
A columnated list. The -width argument has no effect; instead, the string length of each argument specifies the width of one column. If the first line of the body of a -column list is not an It macro line, It contexts spanning one input line each are implied until an It macro line is encountered, at which point items start being interpreted as described in the It documentation.
Like -bullet, except that dashes are used in place of bullets.
Like -inset, except that item heads are not parsed for macro invocations. Most often used in the DIAGNOSTICS section with error constants in the item heads.
A numbered list. No item heads can be specified. Formatted like -bullet, except that cardinal numbers are used in place of bullets, starting at 1.
Like -tag, except that the first lines of item bodies are not indented, but follow the item heads like in -inset lists.
Synonym for -dash.
Item bodies follow items heads on the same line, using normal inter-word spacing. Bodies are not indented, and the -width argument is ignored.
No item heads can be specified, and none are printed. Bodies are not indented, and the -width argument is ignored.
Item bodies start on the line following item heads and are not indented. The -width argument is ignored.
Item bodies are indented according to the -width argument. When an item head fits inside the indentation, the item body follows this head on the same output line. Otherwise, the body starts on the output line following the head.

Lists may be nested within lists and displays. Nesting of -column and -enum lists may not be portable.

See also El and It.

Begin a block enclosed by square brackets. Does not have any head arguments.


.Bo 1 ,

See also Bq.

Bq line
Encloses its arguments in square brackets.


.Bq 1, Dv BUFSIZ

Remarks: this macro is sometimes abused to emulate optional arguments for commands; the correct macros to use for this purpose are Op, Oo, and Oc.

See also Bo.

Close a Bro block. Does not have any tail arguments.
Begin a block enclosed by curly braces. Does not have any head arguments.


.Bro 1 , ... ,
.Va n Brc

See also Brq.

Brq line
Encloses its arguments in curly braces.


.Brq 1, ..., Va n

See also Bro.

Bsx [version]
Format the BSD/OS version provided as an argument, or a default value if no argument is provided.


.Bsx 1.0

See also At, Bx, Dx, Fx, Nx, and Ox.

Supported only for compatibility, do not use this in new manuals. Prints “is currently in beta test.”
Bx [version [variant]]
Format the BSD version provided as an argument, or a default value if no argument is provided.


.Bx 4.3 Tahoe
.Bx 4.4

See also At, Bsx, Dx, Fx, Nx, and Ox.

Cd line
Kernel configuration declaration. This denotes strings accepted by config(8). It is most often used in section 4 manual pages.


.Cd device le0 at scode?

Remarks: this macro is commonly abused by using quoted literals to retain whitespace and align consecutive Cd declarations. This practise is discouraged.

Cm keyword ...
Command modifiers. Typically used for fixed strings passed as arguments to interactive commands, to commands in interpreted scripts, or to configuration file directives, unless Fl is more appropriate.


.Nm mt Fl f Ar device Cm rewind
.Nm ps Fl o Cm pid , Ns Cm command
.Nm dd Cm if= Ns Ar file1 Cm of= Ns Ar file2
.Ic set Fl o Cm vi
.Ic lookup Cm file bind
.Ic permit Ar identity Op Cm as Ar target
D1 line
One-line indented display. This is formatted by the default rules and is useful for simple indented statements. It is followed by a newline.


.D1 Fl abcdefgh

See also Bd and Dl.

This macro is obsolete. No replacement is needed. It is ignored by mandoc(1) and groff including its arguments. It was formerly used to toggle a debugging mode.
Close a Do block. Does not have any tail arguments.
Dd $Mdocdate$ | month day, year
Document date for display in the page footer, by convention the date of the last change. This is the mandatory first macro of any mdoc manual.

The month is the full English month name, the day is an integer number, and the year is the full four-digit year.

Other arguments are not portable; the mandoc(1) utility handles them as follows:

  • To have the date automatically filled in by the OpenBSD version of cvs(1), the special string “$Mdocdate$” can be given as an argument.
  • The traditional, purely numeric man(7) format yearmonthday is accepted, too.
  • If a date string cannot be parsed, it is used verbatim.
  • If no date string is given, the current date is used.


.Dd $Mdocdate$
.Dd $Mdocdate: July 2 2018$
.Dd July 2, 2018

See also Dt and Os.

Dl line
One-line indented display. This is formatted as literal text and is useful for commands and invocations. It is followed by a newline.


.Dl % mandoc mdoc.7 \(ba less

See also Ql, Bd -literal, and D1.

Begin a block enclosed by double quotes. Does not have any head arguments.


April is the cruellest month
\(em T.S. Eliot

See also Dq.

Dq line
Encloses its arguments in “typographic” double-quotes.


.Dq April is the cruellest month
\(em T.S. Eliot

See also Qq, Sq, and Do.

Dt TITLE section [arch]
Document title for display in the page header. This is the mandatory second macro of any mdoc file.

Its arguments are as follows:

The document's title (name), defaulting to “UNTITLED” if unspecified. To achieve a uniform appearance of page header lines, it should by convention be all caps.
The manual section. This may be one of 1 (General Commands), 2 (System Calls), 3 (Library Functions), 3p (Perl Library), 4 (Device Drivers), 5 (File Formats), 6 (Games), 7 (Miscellaneous Information), 8 (System Manager's Manual), or 9 (Kernel Developer's Manual). It should correspond to the manual's filename suffix and defaults to the empty string if unspecified.
This specifies the machine architecture a manual page applies to, where relevant, for example alpha, amd64, i386, or sparc64. The list of valid architectures varies by operating system.


.Dt FOO 1
.Dt FOO 9 i386

See also Dd and Os.

Dv identifier ...
Defined variables such as preprocessor constants, constant symbols, enumeration values, and so on.



See also Er and Ev for special-purpose constants, Va for variable symbols, and Fd for listing preprocessor variable definitions in the SYNOPSIS.

Dx [version]
Format the DragonFly version provided as an argument, or a default value if no argument is provided.


.Dx 2.4.1

See also At, Bsx, Bx, Fx, Nx, and Ox.

Close a scope started by Eo.

The closing_delimiter argument is used as the enclosure tail, for example, specifying \(rq will emulate Dc.

End a display context started by Bd.
End a font mode context started by Bf.
End a keep context started by Bk.
End a list context started by Bl. See also It.
Em word ...
Request an italic font. If the output device does not provide that, underline.

This is most often used for stress emphasis (not to be confused with importance, see Sy). In the rare cases where none of the semantic markup macros fit, it can also be used for technical terms and placeholders, except that for syntax elements, Sy and Ar are preferred, respectively.


Selected lines are those
.Em not
matching any of the specified patterns.
Some of the functions use a
.Em hold space
to save the pattern space for subsequent retrieval.

See also No, Ql, and Sy.

word ...
This macro is obsolete. Use Eo or any of the other enclosure macros.

It encloses its argument in the delimiters specified by the last Es macro.

Eo [opening_delimiter]
An arbitrary enclosure. The opening_delimiter argument is used as the enclosure head, for example, specifying \(lq will emulate Do.
Er identifier ...
Error constants for definitions of the errno libc global variable. This is most often used in section 2 and 3 manual pages.



See also Dv for general constants.

opening_delimiter closing_delimiter
This macro is obsolete. Use Eo or any of the other enclosure macros.

It takes two arguments, defining the delimiters to be used by subsequent En macros.

Ev identifier ...
Environmental variables such as those specified in environ(7).



See also Dv for general constants.

Ex -std [utility ...]
Insert a standard sentence regarding command exit values of 0 on success and >0 on failure. This is most often used in section 1, 6, and 8 manual pages.

If utility is not specified, the document's name set by Nm is used. Multiple utility arguments are treated as separate utilities.

See also Rv.

Fa argument ...
Function argument or parameter. Each argument may be a name and a type (recommended for the SYNOPSIS section), a name alone (for function invocations), or a type alone (for function prototypes). If both a type and a name are given or if the type consists of multiple words, all words belonging to the same function argument have to be given in a single argument to the Fa macro.

This macro is also used to specify the field name of a structure.

Most often, the Fa macro is used in the SYNOPSIS within Fo blocks when documenting multi-line function prototypes. If invoked with multiple arguments, the arguments are separated by a comma. Furthermore, if the following macro is another Fa, the last argument will also have a trailing comma.


.Fa "const char *p"
.Fa "int a" "int b" "int c"
.Fa "char *" size_t

See also Fo.

End a function context started by Fo.
Fd #directive [argument ...]
Preprocessor directive, in particular for listing it in the SYNOPSIS. Historically, it was also used to document include files. The latter usage has been deprecated in favour of In.


.Fd #define sa_handler __sigaction_u.__sa_handler
.Fd #define SIO_MAXNFDS
.Fd #ifdef FS_DEBUG
.Ft void
.Fn dbg_open "const char *"
.Fd #endif

See also MANUAL STRUCTURE, In, and Dv.

Fl [word ...]
Command-line flag or option. Used when listing arguments to command-line utilities. For each argument, prints an ASCII hyphen-minus character ‘-’, immediately followed by the argument. If no arguments are provided, a hyphen-minus is printed followed by a space. If the argument is a macro, a hyphen-minus is prefixed to the subsequent macro output.


.Nm du Op Fl H | L | P
.Nm ls Op Fl 1AaCcdFfgHhikLlmnopqRrSsTtux
.Nm route Cm add Fl inet Ar destination gateway
.Nm locate.updatedb Op Fl \-fcodes Ns = Ns Ar dbfile
.Nm aucat Fl o Fl
.Nm kill Fl Ar signal_number

For GNU-sytle long options, escaping the additional hyphen-minus is not strictly required, but may be safer with future versions of GNU troff; see mandoc_char(7) for details.

See also Cm.

Fn funcname [argument ...]
A function name.

Function arguments are surrounded in parenthesis and are delimited by commas. If no arguments are specified, blank parenthesis are output. In the SYNOPSIS section, this macro starts a new output line, and a blank line is automatically inserted between function definitions.


.Fn "int funcname" "int arg0" "int arg1"
.Fn funcname "int arg0"
.Fn funcname arg0
.Ft functype
.Fn funcname

When referring to a function documented in another manual page, use Xr instead. See also MANUAL STRUCTURE, Fo, and Ft.

Fo funcname
Begin a function block. This is a multi-line version of Fn.

Invocations usually occur in the following context:

.Ft functype
.Fo funcname
.Fa "argtype argname"

A Fo scope is closed by Fc.

See also MANUAL STRUCTURE, Fa, Fc, and Ft.

This macro is obsolete. No replacement markup is needed.

It was used to show numerical function return values in an italic font.

Ft functype
A function type.

In the SYNOPSIS section, a new output line is started after this macro.


.Ft int
.Ft functype
.Fn funcname

See also MANUAL STRUCTURE, Fn, and Fo.

Fx [version]
Format the FreeBSD version provided as an argument, or a default value if no argument is provided.


.Fx 7.1

See also At, Bsx, Bx, Dx, Nx, and Ox.

This macro is not implemented in mandoc(1). It was used to include the contents of a (header) file literally.
Ic keyword ...
Internal or interactive command, or configuration instruction in a configuration file. See also Cm.


.Ic :wq
.Ic hash
.Ic alias

Note that using Ql, Dl, or Bd -literal is preferred for displaying code samples; the Ic macro is used when referring to an individual command name.

In filename
The name of an include file. This macro is most often used in section 2, 3, and 9 manual pages.

When invoked as the first macro on an input line in the SYNOPSIS section, the argument is displayed in angle brackets and preceded by "#include", and a blank line is inserted in front if there is a preceding function declaration. In other sections, it only encloses its argument in angle brackets and causes no line break.


.In sys/types.h


It [head]
A list item. The syntax of this macro depends on the list type.

Lists of type -hang, -ohang, -inset, and -diag have the following syntax:

.It args

Lists of type -bullet, -dash, -enum, -hyphen and -item have the following syntax:


with subsequent lines interpreted within the scope of the It until either a closing El or another It.

The -tag list has the following syntax:

.It [args]

Subsequent lines are interpreted as with -bullet and family. The line arguments correspond to the list's left-hand side; body arguments correspond to the list's contents.

The -column list is the most complicated. Its syntax is as follows:

.It cell [Ta cell ...]
.It cell [<TAB> cell ...]

The arguments consist of one or more lines of text and macros representing a complete table line. Cells within the line are delimited by the special Ta block macro or by literal tab characters.

Using literal tabs is strongly discouraged because they are very hard to use correctly and mdoc code using them is very hard to read. In particular, a blank character is syntactically significant before and after the literal tab character. If a word precedes or follows the tab without an intervening blank, that word is never interpreted as a macro call, but always output literally.

The tab cell delimiter may only be used within the It line itself; on following lines, only the Ta macro can be used to delimit cells, and portability requires that Ta is called by other macros: some parsers do not recognize it when it appears as the first macro on a line.

Note that quoted strings may span tab-delimited cells on an It line. For example,

.It "col1 , <TAB> col2 ," ;

will preserve the whitespace before both commas, but not the whitespace before the semicolon.

See also Bl.

Lb libname
Specify a library.

The name parameter may be a system library, such as z or pam, in which case a small library description is printed next to the linker invocation; or a custom library, in which case the library name is printed in quotes. This is most commonly used in the SYNOPSIS section as described in MANUAL STRUCTURE.


.Lb libz
.Lb libmandoc
Li word ...
Request a typewriter (literal) font. Deprecated because on terminal output devices, this is usually indistinguishable from normal text. For literal displays, use Ql (in-line), Dl (single line), or Bd -literal (multi-line) instead.
Lk uri [display_name]
Format a hyperlink.


.Lk "The Project"

See also Mt.

Deprecated synonym for Pp.
Ms name
Display a mathematical symbol.


.Ms sigma
.Ms aleph
Mt localpart@domain
Format a “mailto:” hyperlink.


.An Kristaps Dzonsons Aq Mt
Nd line
A one line description of the manual's content. This is the mandatory last macro of the NAME section and not appropriate for other sections.


.Nd mdoc language reference
.Nd format and display UNIX manuals

The Nd macro technically accepts child macros and terminates with a subsequent Sh invocation. Do not assume this behaviour: some whatis(1) database generators are not smart enough to parse more than the line arguments and will display macros verbatim.

See also Nm.

Nm [name]
The name of the manual page, or — in particular in section 1, 6, and 8 pages — of an additional command or feature documented in the manual page. When first invoked, the Nm macro expects a single argument, the name of the manual page. Usually, the first invocation happens in the NAME section of the page. The specified name will be remembered and used whenever the macro is called again without arguments later in the page. The Nm macro uses Block full-implicit semantics when invoked as the first macro on an input line in the SYNOPSIS section; otherwise, it uses ordinary In-line semantics.


.Nm cat
.Op Fl benstuv
.Op Ar

In the SYNOPSIS of section 2, 3 and 9 manual pages, use the Fn macro rather than Nm to mark up the name of the manual page.

No word ...
Normal text. Closes the scope of any preceding in-line macro. When used after physical formatting macros like Em or Sy, switches back to the standard font face and weight. Can also be used to embed plain text strings in macro lines using semantic annotation macros.


.Em italic , Sy bold , No and roman
.Sm off
.Cm :C No / Ar pattern No / Ar replacement No /
.Sm on

See also Em, Ql, and Sy.

Suppress a space between the output of the preceding macro and the following text or macro. Following invocation, input is interpreted as normal text just like after an No macro.

This has no effect when invoked at the start of a macro line.


.Ar name Ns = Ns Ar value
.Cm :M Ns Ar pattern
.Fl o Ns Ar output

See also No and Sm.

Nx [version]
Format the NetBSD version provided as an argument, or a default value if no argument is provided.


.Nx 5.01

See also At, Bsx, Bx, Dx, Fx, and Ox.

Close multi-line Oo context.
Multi-line version of Op.


.Op Fl flag Ns Ar value
Op line
Optional part of a command line. Prints the argument(s) in brackets. This is most often used in the SYNOPSIS section of section 1 and 8 manual pages.


.Op Fl a Ar b
.Op Ar a | b

See also Oo.

Os [system [version]]
Operating system version for display in the page footer. This is the mandatory third macro of any mdoc file.

The optional system parameter specifies the relevant operating system or environment. It is suggested to leave it unspecified, in which case mandoc(1) uses its -Ios argument or, if that isn't specified either, sysname and release as returned by uname(3).


.Os BSD 4.3

See also Dd and Dt.

This macro is obsolete. Use Ft instead; with mandoc(1), both have the same effect.

Historical mdoc packages described it as “old function type (FORTRAN)”.

Ox [version]
Format the OpenBSD version provided as an argument, or a default value if no argument is provided.


.Ox 4.5

See also At, Bsx, Bx, Dx, Fx, and Nx.

Pa name ...
An absolute or relative file system path, or a file or directory name. If an argument is not provided, the character ‘~’ is used as a default.


.Pa /usr/bin/mandoc
.Pa /usr/share/man/man7/mdoc.7

See also Lk.

Close parenthesised context opened by Po.
Pf prefix macro [argument ...]
Removes the space between its argument and the following macro. It is equivalent to:

No \&prefix Ns macro [argument ...]

The prefix argument is not parsed for macro names or delimiters, but used verbatim as if it were escaped.


.Pf $ Ar variable_name
.Pf . Ar macro_name
.Pf 0x Ar hex_digits

See also Ns and Sm.

Multi-line version of Pq.
Break a paragraph. This will assert vertical space between prior and subsequent macros and/or text.

Paragraph breaks are not needed before or after Sh or Ss macros or before displays (Bd line) or lists (Bl) unless the -compact flag is given.

Pq line
Parenthesised enclosure.

See also Po.

Close quoted context opened by Qo.
Ql line
In-line literal display. This can be used for complete command invocations and for multi-word code examples when an indented display is not desired.

See also Dl and Bd -literal.

Multi-line version of Qq.
Qq line
Encloses its arguments in "typewriter" double-quotes. Consider using Dq.

See also Dq, Sq, and Qo.

Close an Rs block. Does not have any tail arguments.
Begin a bibliographic (“reference”) block. Does not have any head arguments. The block macro may only contain %A, %B, %C, %D, %I, %J, %N, %O, %P, %Q, %R, %T, %U, and %V child macros (at least one must be specified).


.%A J. E. Hopcroft
.%A J. D. Ullman
.%B Introduction to Automata Theory, Languages, and Computation
.%I Addison-Wesley
.%C Reading, Massachusetts
.%D 1979

If an Rs block is used within a SEE ALSO section, a vertical space is asserted before the rendered output, else the block continues on the current line.

Rv -std [function ...]
Insert a standard sentence regarding a function call's return value of 0 on success and -1 on error, with the errno libc global variable set on error.

If function is not specified, the document's name set by Nm is used. Multiple function arguments are treated as separate functions.

See also Ex.

Close single-quoted context opened by So.
Begin a new section. For a list of conventional manual sections, see MANUAL STRUCTURE. These sections should be used unless it's absolutely necessary that custom sections be used.

Section names should be unique so that they may be keyed by Sx. Although this macro is parsed, it should not consist of child node or it may not be linked with Sx.

See also Pp, Ss, and Sx.

Sm [on | off]
Switches the spacing mode for output generated from macros.

By default, spacing is on. When switched off, no white space is inserted between macro arguments and between the output generated from adjacent macros, but text lines still get normal spacing between words and sentences.

When called without an argument, the Sm macro toggles the spacing mode. Using this is not recommended because it makes the code harder to read.

Multi-line version of Sq.
Sq line
Encloses its arguments in ‘typewriter’ single-quotes.

See also Dq, Qq, and So.

Ss Title line
Begin a new subsection. Unlike with Sh, there is no convention for the naming of subsections. Except DESCRIPTION, the conventional sections described in MANUAL STRUCTURE rarely have subsections.

Sub-section names should be unique so that they may be keyed by Sx. Although this macro is parsed, it should not consist of child node or it may not be linked with Sx.

See also Pp, Sh, and Sx.

St -abbreviation
Replace an abbreviation for a standard with the full form. The following standards are recognised. Where multiple lines are given without a blank line in between, they all refer to the same standard, and using the first form is recommended.
C language standards

ANSI X3.159-1989 (“ANSI C89”)
ANSI X3.159-1989 (“ANSI C89”)
ISO/IEC 9899:1990 (“ISO C90”)
ISO/IEC 9899:1990 (“ISO C90”)
The original C standard.

ISO/IEC 9899/AMD1:1995 (“ISO C90, Amendment 1”)

ISO/IEC 9899/TCOR1:1994 (“ISO C90, Technical Corrigendum 1”)

ISO/IEC 9899/TCOR2:1995 (“ISO C90, Technical Corrigendum 2”)

ISO/IEC 9899:1999 (“ISO C99”)
The second major version of the C language standard.

ISO/IEC 9899:2011 (“ISO C11”)
The third major version of the C language standard.
POSIX.1 before the Single UNIX Specification

IEEE Std 1003.1-1988 (“POSIX.1”)
IEEE Std 1003.1 (“POSIX.1”)
The original POSIX standard, based on ANSI C.

IEEE Std 1003.1-1990 (“POSIX.1”)
ISO/IEC 9945-1:1990 (“POSIX.1”)
The first update of POSIX.1.

IEEE Std 1003.1b-1993 (“POSIX.1b”)
IEEE Std 1003.1b (“POSIX.1b”)
Real-time extensions.

IEEE Std 1003.1c-1995 (“POSIX.1c”)
POSIX thread interfaces.

IEEE Std 1003.1i-1995 (“POSIX.1i”)
Technical Corrigendum.

ISO/IEC 9945-1:1996 (“POSIX.1”)
ISO/IEC 9945-1:1996 (“POSIX.1”)
Includes POSIX.1-1990, 1b, 1c, and 1i.
X/Open Portability Guide version 4 and related standards

X/Open Portability Guide Issue 3 (“XPG3”)
An XPG4 precursor, published in 1989.

IEEE Std 1003.2 (“POSIX.2”)
IEEE Std 1003.2-1992 (“POSIX.2”)
ISO/IEC 9945-2:1993 (“POSIX.2”)
An XCU4 precursor.

IEEE Std 1003.2a-1992 (“POSIX.2”)
Updates to POSIX.2.

X/Open Portability Guide Issue 4 (“XPG4”)
Based on POSIX.1 and POSIX.2, published in 1992.
Single UNIX Specification version 1 and related standards

Version 1 of the Single UNIX Specification (“SUSv1”)
X/Open Portability Guide Issue 4, Version 2 (“XPG4.2”)
This standard was published in 1994. It was used as the basis for UNIX 95 certification. The following three refer to parts of it.

X/Open System Interfaces and Headers Issue 4, Version 2 (“XSH4.2”)

X/Open Curses Issue 4, Version 2 (“XCURSES4.2”)

IEEE Std 1003.1g-2000 (“POSIX.1g”)
Networking APIs, including sockets.

System V Interface Definition, Fourth Edition (“SVID4”),
Published in 1995.
Single UNIX Specification version 2 and related standards

Version 2 of the Single UNIX Specification (“SUSv2”) This Standard was published in 1997 and is also called X/Open Portability Guide version 5. It was used as the basis for UNIX 98 certification. The following refer to parts of it.

X/Open Base Definitions Issue 5 (“XBD5”)

X/Open System Interfaces and Headers Issue 5 (“XSH5”)

X/Open Commands and Utilities Issue 5 (“XCU5”)

X/Open Networking Services Issue 5 (“XNS5”)
X/Open Networking Services Issue 5.2 (“XNS5.2”)
Single UNIX Specification version 3

IEEE Std 1003.1-2001 (“POSIX.1”)
Version 3 of the Single UNIX Specification (“SUSv3”)
This standard is based on C99, SUSv2, POSIX.1-1996, 1d, and 1j. It is also called X/Open Portability Guide version 6. It is used as the basis for UNIX 03 certification.

IEEE Std 1003.1-2004 (“POSIX.1”)
The second and last Technical Corrigendum.
Single UNIX Specification version 4

IEEE Std 1003.1-2008 (“POSIX.1”)
Version 4 of the Single UNIX Specification (“SUSv4”)
This standard is also called X/Open Portability Guide version 7.
Other standards

IEEE Std 754-1985
Floating-point arithmetic.

ISO 8601
Representation of dates and times, published in 1988.

ISO 8802-3: 1989
Ethernet local area networks.

IEEE Std 1275-1994 (“Open Firmware”)
Sx Title line
Reference a section or subsection in the same manual page. The referenced section or subsection name must be identical to the enclosed argument, including whitespace.



See also Sh and Ss.

Sy word ...
Request a boldface font.

This is most often used to indicate importance or seriousness (not to be confused with stress emphasis, see Em). When none of the semantic macros fit, it is also adequate for syntax elements that have to be given or that appear verbatim.


.Sy Warning :
.Sy s
appears in the owner permissions, set-user-ID mode is set.
This utility replaces the former
.Sy dumpdir

See also Em, No, and Ql.

Table cell separator in Bl -column lists; can only be used below It.
Tg [term]
Announce that the next input line starts a definition of the term. This macro must appear alone on its own input line. The argument defaults to the first argument of the first macro on the next line. The argument may not contain whitespace characters, not even when it is quoted. This macro is a mandoc(1) extension and is typically ignored by other formatters.

When viewing terminal output with less(1), the interactive :t command can be used to go to the definition of the term as described for the MANPAGER variable in man(1); when producing HTML output, a fragment identifier (id attribute) is generated, to be used for deep linking to this place of the document.

In most cases, adding a Tg macro would be redundant because mandoc(1) is able to automatically tag most definitions. This macro is intended for cases where automatic tagging of a term is unsatisfactory, for example if a definition is not tagged automatically (false negative) or if places are tagged that do not define the term (false positives). When there is at least one Tg macro for a term, no other places are automatically marked as definitions of that term.

word ...
Supported only for compatibility, do not use this in new manuals. Even though the macro name (“tradename”) suggests a semantic function, historic usage is inconsistent, mostly using it as a presentation-level macro to request a small caps font.
Supported only for compatibility, do not use this in new manuals. Prints out “currently under development.”
Supported only for compatibility, do not use this in new manuals. Prints out “UNIX”.
Va [type] identifier ...
A variable name.


.Va foo
.Va const char *bar

For function arguments and parameters, use Fa instead. For declarations of global variables in the SYNOPSIS section, use Vt.

Vt type [identifier]
A variable type.

This is also used for indicating global variables in the SYNOPSIS section, in which case a variable name is also specified. Note that it accepts Block partial-implicit syntax when invoked as the first macro on an input line in the SYNOPSIS section, else it accepts ordinary In-line syntax. In the former case, this macro starts a new output line, and a blank line is inserted in front if there is a preceding function definition or include directive.


.Vt unsigned char
.Vt extern const char * const sys_signame[] ;

For parameters in function prototypes, use Fa instead, for function return types Ft, and for variable names outside the SYNOPSIS section Va, even when including a type with the name. See also MANUAL STRUCTURE.

Close a scope opened by Xo.
Extend the header of an It macro or the body of a partial-implicit block macro beyond the end of the input line. This macro originally existed to work around the 9-argument limit of historic roff(7).
Xr name section
Link to another manual ("cross-reference").

Cross reference the name and section number of another man page.


.Xr mandoc 1
.Xr mandoc 1 ;
.Xr mandoc 1 Ns s behaviour

The syntax of a macro depends on its classification. In this section, ‘-arg’ refers to macro arguments, which may be followed by zero or more ‘parm’ parameters; ‘Yo’ opens the scope of a macro; and if specified, ‘Yc’ closes it out.

The Callable column indicates that the macro may also be called by passing its name as an argument to another macro. For example, ‘.Op Fl O Ar file’ produces ‘[-O file]’. To prevent a macro call and render the macro name literally, escape it by prepending a zero-width space, ‘\&’. For example, ‘Op \&Fl O’ produces ‘[Fl O]’. If a macro is not callable but its name appears as an argument to another macro, it is interpreted as opaque text. For example, ‘.Fl Sh’ produces ‘-Sh’.

The Parsed column indicates whether the macro may call other macros by receiving their names as arguments. If a macro is not parsed but the name of another macro appears as an argument, it is interpreted as opaque text.

The Scope column, if applicable, describes closure rules.

Multi-line scope closed by an explicit closing macro. All macros contains bodies; only Bf and (optionally) Bl contain a head.

.Yo [-arg [parm...]] [head...]
Bd No No closed by Ed
Bf No No closed by Ef
Bk No No closed by Ek
Bl No No closed by El
No No opened by Bd
No No opened by Bf
No No opened by Bk
No No opened by Bl

Multi-line scope closed by end-of-file or implicitly by another macro. All macros have bodies; some (It -bullet, -hyphen, -dash, -enum, -item) don't have heads; only one (It in Bl -column) has multiple heads.

.Yo [-arg [parm...]] [head... [Ta head...]]
It No Yes closed by It, El
Nd No No closed by Sh
Nm No Yes closed by Nm, Sh, Ss
Sh No Yes closed by Sh
Ss No Yes closed by Sh, Ss

Note that the Nm macro is a Block full-implicit macro only when invoked as the first macro in a SYNOPSIS section line, else it is In-line.

Like block full-explicit, but also with single-line scope. Each has at least a body and, in limited circumstances, a head (Fo, Eo) and/or tail (Ec).

.Yo [-arg [parm...]] [head...]
.Yc [tail...]

.Yo [-arg [parm...]] [head...] [body...] Yc [tail...]
Yes Yes opened by Ao
Yes Yes closed by Ac
Yes Yes closed by Bo
Yes Yes opened by Bc
Yes Yes opened by Bro
Yes Yes closed by Brc
Yes Yes opened by Do
Yes Yes closed by Dc
Yes Yes opened by Eo
Eo Yes Yes closed by Ec
Yes Yes opened by Fo
Fo No No closed by Fc
Yes Yes closed by Oo
Yes Yes opened by Oc
Yes Yes closed by Po
Yes Yes opened by Pc
Yes Yes opened by Oo
Yes Yes closed by Oc
No No opened by Rs
Rs No No closed by Re
Yes Yes opened by So
Yes Yes closed by Sc
Yes Yes opened by Xo
Yes Yes closed by Xc

Like block full-implicit, but with single-line scope closed by the end of the line.

.Yo [-arg [val...]] [body...] [res...]
Aq Yes Yes
Bq Yes Yes
Brq Yes Yes
D1 No Yes
Dl No Yes
Dq Yes Yes
Yes Yes
Op Yes Yes
Pq Yes Yes
Ql Yes Yes
Qq Yes Yes
Sq Yes Yes
Vt Yes Yes

Note that the Vt macro is a Block partial-implicit only when invoked as the first macro in a SYNOPSIS section line, else it is In-line.

The Ta macro can only be used below It in Bl -column lists. It delimits blocks representing table cells; these blocks have bodies, but no heads.

Ta Yes Yes closed by Ta, It

Closed by the end of the line, fixed argument lengths, and/or subsequent macros. In-line macros have only text children. If a number (or inequality) of arguments is (n), then the macro accepts an arbitrary number of arguments.

.Yo [-arg [val...]] [args...] [res...]

.Yo [-arg [val...]] [args...] Yc...

.Yo [-arg [val...]] arg0 arg1 argN
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
No No >0
Ad Yes Yes >0
An Yes Yes >0
Ap Yes Yes 0
Ar Yes Yes n
At Yes Yes 1
Bsx Yes Yes n
No No 0
Bx Yes Yes n
Cd Yes Yes >0
Cm Yes Yes >0
No No 1
Dd No No n
Dt No No n
Dv Yes Yes >0
Dx Yes Yes n
Em Yes Yes >0
Er Yes Yes >0
Yes Yes 2
Ev Yes Yes >0
Ex No No n
Fa Yes Yes >0
Fd No No >0
Fl Yes Yes n
Fn Yes Yes >0
Yes Yes >0
Ft Yes Yes >0
Fx Yes Yes n
No No n
Ic Yes Yes >0
In No No 1
Lb No No 1
Li Yes Yes >0
Lk Yes Yes >0
No No 0
Ms Yes Yes >0
Mt Yes Yes >0
Nm Yes Yes n
No Yes Yes >0
Ns Yes Yes 0
Nx Yes Yes n
Os No No n
Yes Yes >0
Ox Yes Yes n
Pa Yes Yes n
Pf Yes Yes 1
Pp No No 0
Rv No No n
Sm No No <2
St No Yes 1
Sx Yes Yes >0
Sy Yes Yes >0
Tg No No <2
Yes Yes >0
No No 0
Yes Yes n
Va Yes Yes n
Vt Yes Yes >0
Xr Yes Yes 2

When a macro argument consists of one single input character considered as a delimiter, the argument gets special handling. This does not apply when delimiters appear in arguments containing more than one character. Consequently, to prevent special handling and just handle it like any other argument, a delimiter can be escaped by prepending a zero-width space (‘\&’). In text lines, delimiters never need escaping, but may be used as normal punctuation.

For many macros, when the leading arguments are opening delimiters, these delimiters are put before the macro scope, and when the trailing arguments are closing delimiters, these delimiters are put after the macro scope. Spacing is suppressed after opening delimiters and before closing delimiters. For example,

.Aq ( [ word ] ) .

renders as:


Opening delimiters are:

left parenthesis
left bracket

Closing delimiters are:

right parenthesis
right bracket
question mark
exclamation mark

Note that even a period preceded by a backslash (‘\.’) gets this special handling; use ‘\&.’ to prevent that.

Many in-line macros interrupt their scope when they encounter delimiters, and resume their scope when more arguments follow that are not delimiters. For example,

.Fl a ( b | c \*(Ba d ) e

renders as:

-a (-b | -c | -d) -e

This applies to both opening and closing delimiters, and also to the middle delimiter, which does not suppress spacing:

vertical bar

As a special case, the predefined string \*(Ba is handled and rendered in the same way as a plain ‘|’ character. Using this predefined string is not recommended in new manuals.

Appending a zero-width space (‘\&’) to the end of an input line is also useful to prevent the interpretation of a trailing period, exclamation or question mark as the end of a sentence, for example when an abbreviation happens to occur at the end of a text or macro input line.

In mdoc documents, usage of semantic markup is recommended in order to have proper fonts automatically selected; only when no fitting semantic markup is available, consider falling back to Physical markup macros. Whenever any mdoc macro switches the roff(7) font mode, it will automatically restore the previous font when exiting its scope. Manually switching the font using the roff(7)\f’ font escape sequences is never required.

This section provides an incomplete list of compatibility issues between mandoc and GNU troff ("groff").

The following problematic behaviour is found in groff:

The following features are unimplemented in mandoc:

man(1), mandoc(1), eqn(7), man(7), mandoc_char(7), roff(7), tbl(7)

The web page extended documentation for the mdoc language provides a few tutorial-style pages for beginners, an extensive style guide for advanced authors, and an alphabetic index helping to choose the best macros for various kinds of content.

The manual page groff_mdoc(7) contained in the “groff” package documents exactly the same language in a somewhat different style.

The mdoc language first appeared as a troff macro package in 4.4BSD. It was later significantly updated by Werner Lemberg and Ruslan Ermilov in groff-1.17. The standalone implementation that is part of the mandoc(1) utility written by Kristaps Dzonsons appeared in OpenBSD 4.6.

The mdoc reference was written by Kristaps Dzonsons <>.

July 29, 2021 OpenBSD 6.7