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TBL(1)                      General Commands Manual                     TBL(1)

       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     Enable compatibility mode to recognize .TS and .TE even when
              followed by a character other than space or newline.  Leader
              characters (\a) are handled as interpreted.

       -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

              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
              example, 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
       whitespace 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
       character 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

       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
              separation 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
              incremented 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 blanks.

       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.

       x,X    This is a GNU tbl extension.  Either of these specifiers may be
              followed by a macro name (either one or two characters long), or
              long name in parentheses.  A one-letter macro name must be
              separated by one or more blanks from whatever follows.  The
              macro which name can be specified here must be defined before
              creating the table.  It is called just before the table's cell
              text is output.  As implemented currently, this macro is only
              called if block input is used, that is, text between `T{' and
              `T}'.  The macro should contain only simple troff requests to
              change the text block formatting, like text adjustment,
              hyphenation, size, or font.  The macro is called after other
              cell modifications like b, f or v are output.  Thus the macro
              can overwrite other modification specifiers.

       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
       separation 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

       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

       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
       immediately 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
       tabs).  By default, the text block is formatted with the settings which
       were active before entering the table, possibly overridden by the v and
       w tbl specifiers.  For example, to make all text blocks ragged-right,
       insert .na right before the starting .TS (and .ad after the table).

       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
       table 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
       table.  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 (except in
       compatibility mode).  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)

Groff Version 1.19.2           September 4, 2005                        TBL(1)