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tbl - format tables for troff



        tbl - format tables for troff


        tbl [ -Cv ] [ files... ]


        This manual page describes the GNU version of tbl, which is part of the
        groff document formatting system.  tbl compiles descriptions of  tables
        embedded  within troff input files into commands that are understood by
        troff.  Normally, it should be invoked using the -t  option  of  groff.
        It is highly compatible with Unix tbl.  The output generated by GNU tbl
        cannot be processed with Unix troff; it  must  be  processed  with  GNU
        troff.   If  no files are given on the command line, the standard input
        will be read.  A filename of - will cause  the  standard  input  to  be


        -C     Recognize  .TS  and  .TE even when followed by a character other
               than space or newline.
        -v     Print the version number.


        tbl expects to find table descriptions wrapped in the .TS (table start)
        and  .TE  (table  end)  macros.  The line immediately following the .TS
        macro may contain any of the following  global  options  (ignoring  the
        case of characters -- Unix tbl only accepts options with all characters
        lowercase or all characters uppercase):
        center Centers the table (default is left-justified).  The  alternative
               keyword name centre is also recognized (this is a GNU tbl exten‐
               Use x and y as start and end delimiters for eqn(1).
        expand Makes the table as wide as the current line length.
        box    Encloses the table in a box.
               Encloses the table in a double box.
        allbox Encloses each item of the table in a box.
        frame  Same as box (GNU tbl only).
               Same as doublebox (GNU tbl only).
        tab(x) Uses the character x instead of a tab to  separate  items  in  a
               line of input data.
               Sets lines or rules (e.g. from box) in n-point type.
        nokeep Don’t  use  diversions  to  prevent  page breaks (GNU tbl only).
               Normally tbl attempts to prevent undesirable breaks in the table
               by  using  diversions.   This  can sometimes interact badly with
               macro packages’ own use of diversions, when footnotes, for exam‐
               ple, are used.
               Set  the  character  to  be  recognized  as the decimal point in
               numeric columns (GNU tbl only).
               Ignore leading and trailing spaces in data items (GNU tbl only).
        The  global  options must end with a semicolon.  There might be whites‐
        pace after an option and its argument in parentheses.
        After global options come lines describing the format of each  line  of
        the  table.   Each  such  format  line  describes one line of the table
        itself, except that the last format line (which you  must  end  with  a
        period) describes all remaining lines of the table.  A single key char‐
        acter describes each column of each line of the  table.   You  may  run
        format specs for multiple lines together on the same line by separating
        them with commas.
        You may follow each key character with specifiers  that  determine  the
        font  and  point  size of the corresponding item, that determine column
        width, inter-column spacing, etc.
        The longest format line defines the number of  columns  in  the  table;
        missing format descriptors at the end of format lines are assumed to be
        ‘L’.  Extra columns in the data (which  have  no  corresponding  format
        entry) are ignored.
        The available key characters are:
        c,C    Centers item within the column.
        r,R    Right-justifies item within the column.
        l,L    Left-justifies item within the column.
        n,N    Numerically  justifies  item  in  the column: Units positions of
               numbers are aligned vertically.
        s,S    Spans previous item on the left into this column.
        a,A    Centers longest line in this column and then left-justifies  all
               other lines in this column with respect to that centered line.
        ^      Spans down entry from previous row in this column.
        _,-    Replaces this entry with a horizontal line.
        =      Replaces this entry with a double horizontal line.
        |      The  corresponding  column  becomes  a  vertical rule (if two of
               these are adjacent, a double vertical rule).
        A vertical bar to the left of the first key-letter or to the  right  of
        the last one produces a line at the edge of the table.
        Here  are the specifiers that can appear in suffixes to column key let‐
        b,B    Short form of fB (make affected entries bold).
        i,I    Short form of fI (make affected entries italic).
        t,T    Start an item vertically spanning rows at the top of  its  range
               rather than vertically centering it.
        d,D    Start  an  item  vertically  spanning  rows at the bottom of its
               range rather than vertically centering it (GNU tbl only).
        v,V    Followed by a number, this indicates the vertical  line  spacing
               to  be used in a multi-line table entry.  If signed, the current
               vertical line spacing is incremented  or  decremented  (using  a
               signed number instead of a signed digit is a GNU tbl extension).
               A vertical line spacing specifier followed by a  column  separa‐
               tion  number must be separated by one or more blanks.  No effect
               if the corresponding table entry isn’t a text block.
        f,F    Either of these specifiers  may  be  followed  by  a  font  name
               (either  one  or  two  characters  long),  font number (a single
               digit), or long name in parentheses (the last form is a GNU  tbl
               extension).   A one-letter font name must be separated by one or
               more blanks from whatever follows.
        p,P    Followed by a number, this does a  point  size  change  for  the
               affected  fields.   If  signed, the current point size is incre‐
               mented or decremented (using a signed number instead of a signed
               digit  is a GNU tbl extension).  A point size specifier followed
               by a column separation number must be separated by one  or  more
        w,W    Minimal  column  width  value.   Must  be  followed  either by a
               troff(1) width expression in parentheses or a unitless  integer.
               If  no  unit  is  given,  en  units  are used.  Also used as the
               default line length for included text blocks.  If used  multiple
               times  to  specify  the  width for a particular column, the last
               entry takes effect.
        e,E    Make equally-spaced columns.
        u,U    Move the corresponding column up one half-line.
        z,Z    Ignore the corresponding column for width-calculation  purposes.
        A  number  suffix on a key character is interpreted as a column separa‐
        tion in ens (multiplied in proportion if  the  expand  option  is  on).
        Default separation is 3n.
        The  format  lines are followed by lines containing the actual data for
        the table, followed finally by .TE.  Within such data lines, items  are
        normally  separated  by tab characters (or the character specified with
        the tab option).  Long input lines can be broken across multiple  lines
        if the last character on the line is ‘\’ (which vanishes after concate‐
        A dot starting a line, followed by anything but a digit is handled as a
        troff  command,  passed through without changes.  The table position is
        unchanged in this case.
        If a data line consists of only ‘_’ or ‘=’, a single  or  double  line,
        respectively, is drawn across the table at that point; if a single item
        in a data line consists of only ‘_’ or ‘=’, then that item is  replaced
        by  a  single  or  double line, joining its neighbours.  If a data item
        consists only of ‘\_’ or ‘\=’, a single or double  line,  respectively,
        is  drawn across the field at that point which does not join its neigh‐
        A data item consisting only of ‘\Rx’ (‘x’ any character) is replaced by
        repetitions  of  character  ‘x’  as wide as the column (not joining its
        A data item consisting only of ‘\^’ indicates that  the  field  immedi‐
        ately above spans downward over this row.
        A text block can be used to enter data as a single entry which would be
        too long as a simple string between tabs.  It is started with ‘T{’  and
        closed  with  ‘T}’.   The  former  must end a line, and the latter must
        start a line, probably followed by other data columns  (separated  with
        To  change  the data format within a table, use the .T& command (at the
        start of a line).  It is followed by format  and  data  lines  (but  no
        global options) similar to the .TS request.
        tbl(1)  should  always  be called before eqn(1) (groff(1) automatically
        takes care of the correct order of preprocessors).
        There is no limit on the number of columns in a table, nor any limit on
        the  number of text blocks.  All the lines of a table are considered in
        deciding column widths, not just the  first  200.   Table  continuation
        (.T&) lines are not restricted to the first 200 lines.
        Numeric and alphabetic items may appear in the same column.
        Numeric and alphabetic items may span horizontally.
        tbl uses register, string, macro and diversion names beginning with the
        digit 3.  When using tbl you should avoid  using  any  names  beginning
        with a 3.


        You should use .TS H/.TH in conjunction with a supporting macro package
        for all multi-page boxed tables.  If there is no header that  you  wish
        to  appear  at  the  top  of each page of the table, place the .TH line
        immediately after the format section.  Do not enclose a multi-page  ta‐
        ble within keep/release macros, or divert it in any other way.
        A text block within a table must be able to fit on one page.
        The bp request cannot be used to force a page-break in a multi-page ta‐
        ble.  Instead, define BP as follows
               .de BP
               .ie      \\n(.z           .bp \\$1
               .el \!.BP \\$1
        and use BP instead of bp.
        Using \a directly in a table to get leaders will  not  work.   This  is
        correct behaviour: \a is an uninterpreted leader.  To get leaders use a
        real leader, either by using a control A or like this:
               .ds a \a
               lw(1i) l.


        Lesk, M.E.: "TBL -- A Program to Format Tables".  For copyright reasons
        it  cannot  be  included  in  the groff distribution, but copies can be
        found with a title search on the World Wide Web.
        groff(1), troff(1)


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