FreeBSD 4.11 manual page repository

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fmt - simple text formatter



      fmt - simple text formatter


      fmt [-cmnps] [-d chars] [-l num] [-t num]
          [goal [maximum] | -width | -w width] [file ...]


      The fmt utility is a simple text formatter which reads the concatenation
      of input files (or standard input if none are given) and produces on
      standard output a version of its input with lines as close to the goal
      length as possible without exceeding the maximum.  The goal length
      defaults to 65 and the maximum to 10 more than the goal length.  Alterna‐
      tively, a single width parameter can be specified either by prepending a
      hyphen to it or by using -w.  For example, “fmt -w 72”, “fmt -72”, and
      “fmt 72 72” all produce identical output.  The spacing at the beginning
      of the input lines is preserved in the output, as are blank lines and
      interword spacing.  Lines are joined or split only at white space; that
      is, words are never joined or hyphenated.
      The options are as follows:
      -c      Center the text, line by line.  In this case, most of the other
              options are ignored; no splitting or joining of lines is done.
      -m      Try to format mail header lines contained in the input sensibly.
      -n      Format lines beginning with a ‘.’ (dot) character.  Normally, fmt
              does not fill these lines, for compatibility with nroff(1).
      -p      Allow indented paragraphs.  Without the -p flag, any change in
              the amount of whitespace at the start of a line results in a new
              paragraph being begun.
      -s      Collapse whitespace inside lines, so that multiple whitespace
              characters are turned into a single space.  (Or, at the end of a
              sentence, a double space.)
      -d chars
              Treat the chars (and no others) as sentence-ending characters.
              By default the sentence-ending characters are full stop (‘.’),
              question mark (‘?’) and exclamation mark (‘!’).  Remember that
              some characters may need to be escaped to protect them from your
      -l number
              Replace multiple spaces with tabs at the start of each output
              line, if possible.  Each number spaces will be replaced with one
              tab.  The default is 8.  If number is 0, spaces are preserved.
      -t number
              Assume that the input files’ tabs assume number spaces per tab
              stop.  The default is 8.
      The fmt utility is meant to format mail messages prior to sending, but
      may also be useful for other simple tasks.  For instance, within visual
      mode of the ex(1) editor (e.g., vi(1)) the command
      will reformat a paragraph, evening the lines.
      mail(1), nroff(1)


      The fmt command appeared in 3BSD.
      The version described herein is a complete rewrite and appeared in
      FreeBSD 4.4.


      Kurt Shoens
      Liz Allen (added goal length concept)
      Gareth McCaughan


      The program was designed to be simple and fast - for more complex opera‐
      tions, the standard text processors are likely to be more appropriate.
      When the first line of an indented paragraph is very long (more than
      about twice the goal length), the indentation in the output can be wrong.
      The fmt utility is not infallible in guessing what lines are mail headers
      and what lines are not.


Based on BSD UNIX
FreeBSD is an advanced operating system for x86 compatible (including Pentium and Athlon), amd64 compatible (including Opteron, Athlon64, and EM64T), UltraSPARC, IA-64, PC-98 and ARM architectures. It is derived from BSD, the version of UNIX developed at the University of California, Berkeley. It is developed and maintained by a large team of individuals. Additional platforms are in various stages of development.