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 or a filename of - is
   given, the standard input is read.


   -C     Enable compatibility mode to recognize .TS  and  .TE  even  when
          followed  by  a  character  other than space or newline.  Leader
          characters (
) 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.  Within each such table sections, another
   table can be defined by using the request .T& before the final  command
   .TE.  Each table definition has the following structure:

   Global options
          This  is  optional.   This  table  part can use several of these
          options distributed in 1 or more lines.  The global option  part
          must always be finished by a semi-colon ; .

   Table format specification
          This  part must be given, it is not optional.  It determines the
          number of columns (cells) of the table.  Moreover each  cell  is
          classified  by  being central, left adjusted, or numerical, etc.
          This specification can have several lines, but must be  finished
          by  a  dot  .   at  the  end  of the last line.  After each cell
          definition,  column  specifiers  can  be  appended,  but  that's

   Cells are separated by a tab character by default.  That can be changed
   by the global option tbl(c), where c is an arbitrary character.


   The easiest table definition is.
          c c c .
          This is   centered
          Well,     this also
   By using c c c, each cell in the whole table  will  be  centered.   The
   separating character is here the default tab.

   The result is

          This     is    centered
          Well,   this     also

   This definition is identical to
   Here, the separating tab character is changed to the letter @.

   Moreover  a  title  can  be  added  and the centering directions can be
   changed to many other formats:
          c s s
          l c n .
   The result is

          left      centers   123
          another   number     75
   Here l means left-justified, and  n  means  numerical,  which  is  here


   Global options
   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), separated by spaces, tabs, or commas:

   allbox Enclose each item of the table in a box.

   box    Enclose the table in a box.

   center Center the table (default is left-justified).   The  alternative
          keyword  name  centre  is  also  recognized  (this  is a GNU tbl

          Set the character to be  recognized  as  the  decimal  point  in
          numeric columns (GNU tbl only).

          Use x and y as start and end delimiters for eqn(1).

          Enclose the table in a double box.

          Same as doublebox (GNU tbl only).

   expand Make  the  table as wide as the current line length (providing a
          column separation factor).  Ignored if one or  more  ‘x’  column
          specifiers are used (see below).

          In  case the sum of the column widths is larger than the current
          line length, the column separation factor is set to  zero;  such
          tables  extend  into  the  right  margin, and there is no column
          separation at all.

   frame  Same as box (GNU tbl only).

          Set 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 boxed
          tables by using diversions.  This can sometimes  interact  badly
          with  macro  packages own use of diversions, when footnotes, for
          example, are used.

          Ignore leading and trailing spaces in data items (GNU tbl only).

   nowarn Turn off warnings related to tables exceeding the  current  line
          width (GNU tbl only).

   tab(x) Use the character x instead of a tab to separate items in a line
          of input data.

   The  global  options  must  end  with  a  semicolon.   There  might  be
   whitespace between an option and its argument in parentheses.

   Table format specification
   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.  Key
   characters can be separated by spaces or  tabs.   You  may  run  format
   specifications  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:

   a,A    Center  longest  line in this column and then left-justifies all
          other lines in this column with respect to that  centered  line.
          The idea is to use such alphabetic subcolumns (hence the name of
          the key character)  in  combination  with  L;  they  are  called
          subcolumns  because  A  items  are  indented  by  1n relative to
          L entries.  Example:

                 item one;1
                 subitem two;2
                 subitem three;3
                 item eleven;11
                 subitem twentytwo;22
                 subitem thirtythree;33


                 item one                 1
                  subitem two             2
                  subitem three           3
                 item eleven             11
                  subitem twentytwo      22
                  subitem thirtythree    33

   c,C    Center item within the column.

   l,L    Left-justify item within the column.

   n,N    Numerically justify item  in  the  column:  Units  positions  of
          numbers  are  aligned  vertically.  If there is one or more dots
          adjacent  to  a  digit,  use  the  rightmost  one  for  vertical
          alignment.   If  there  is  no  dot, use the rightmost digit for
          vertical  alignment;  otherwise,  center  the  item  within  the
          column.   Alignment  can  be  forced to a certain position using
          ‘\&’; if there is one or more instances of  this  special  (non-
          printing)  character  present  within the data, use the leftmost
          one for alignment.  Example:




          If numerical entries are combined with L or R entries – this can
          happen  if  the  table  format  is changed with .T& – center the
          widest number (of the data entered under the N specifier regime)
          relative to the widest L or R entry, preserving the alignment of
          all numerical entries.  Contrary to A type entries, there is  no
          extra indentation.

          Using  equations (to be processed with eqn) within columns which
          use the N specifier is problematic in most cases  due  to  tbl's
          algorithm  for  finding  the  vertical  alignment,  as described
          above.  Using the global delim option, however, it  is  possible
          to  make  tbl  ignore  the  data  within eqn delimiters for that

   r,R    Right-justify item within the column.

   s,S    Span previous item on the left into this  column.   Not  allowed
          for the first column.

   ^      Span  down  entry from previous row in this column.  Not allowed
          for the first row.

   _,-    Replace this entry with a horizontal line.  Note  that  ‘_’  and
          ‘-’  can be used for table fields only, not for column separator

   =      Replace this entry with a double horizontal line.  Note that ‘=’
          can  be  used  for  table  fields only, not for column separator

   |      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.

   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.

   Column specifiers
   Here are the specifiers that can  appear  in  suffixes  to  column  key
   letters (in any order):

   b,B    Short form of fB (make affected entries bold).

   d,D    Start  an  item that vertically spans rows, using the ‘^’ column
          specifier or ‘\^’ data item, at the bottom of its  range  rather
          than vertically centering it (GNU tbl only).  Example:

                 tab(;) allbox;
                 l l
                 l ld
                 r ^
                 l rd.


                 │0000 │ foobar │
                 │1111 │        │
                 │2222 │        │
                 ├─────┤        │
                 │   r │ foo    │
                 │3333 │        │
                 │4444 │    bar │
   e,E    Make  equally-spaced  columns.   All  columns  marked  with this
          specifier get the same width; this happens  after  the  affected
          column  widths  have  been computed (this means that the largest
          width value rules).

   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.

   i,I    Short form of fI (make affected entries italic).

   m,M    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.

   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.

   t,T    Start  an  item vertically spanning rows at the top of its range
          rather than vertically centering it.

   u,U    Move the corresponding column up one half-line.

   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.

   w,W    Minimum 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    An  expanded  column.  After computing all column widths without
          an x specifier, use the remaining line width  for  this  column.
          If  there  is  more  than  one  expanded  column, distribute the
          remaining horizontal space evenly  among  the  affected  columns
          (this  is a GNU extension).  This feature has the same effect as
          specifying a minimum column width.

   z,Z    Ignore the corresponding column for width-calculation  purposes,
          this  is,  don't  use the fields but only the specifiers of this
          column to compute its width.

   A number  suffix  on  a  key  character  is  interpreted  as  a  column
   separation  in  en units (multiplied in proportion if the expand option
   is on – in case of  overfull  tables  this  might  be  zero).   Default
   separation is 3n.

   The column specifier x is mutually exclusive with e and w (but e is not
   mutually  exclusive  with  w);  if  specified  multiple  times  for   a
   particular  column, the last entry takes effect: x unsets both e and w,
   while either e or w overrides x.

   Table data
   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

   Note  that  tbl computes the column widths line by line, applying \w on
   each entry which isn't a text block.  As a  consequence,  constructions


   fail; you must either say




   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.

   Text blocks
   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 or the character given with the tab global option).

   By default, the text block is formatted with the  settings  which  were
   active  before entering the table, possibly overridden by the m, 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).

   If  either  ‘w’ or ‘x[cq] specifiers are not given for all columns of a
   text block span, the default length of  the  text  block  (to  be  more
   precise,  the  line length used to process the text block diversion) is
   computed as L×C/(N+1), where ‘L’ is the current line  length,  ‘C’  the
   number  of  columns spanned by the text block, and ‘N’ the total number
   of columns in the table.  Note,  however,  that  the  actual  diversion
   width  as  returned  in  register \n[dl] is used eventually as the text
   block width.  If necessary, you can also control the text  block  width
   with a direct insertion of a .ll request right after ‘T{’.

   The  number  register  \n[TW]  holds  the table width; it can't be used
   within the table itself but is defined right before calling .TE so that
   this macro can make use of it.

   tbl  also  defines a macro .T# which produces the bottom and side lines
   of a boxed table.  While tbl does call this macro itself at the end  of
   the  table, it can be used by macro packages to create boxes for multi-
   page tables by calling it within the page footer.  An example  of  this
   is  shown by the -ms macros which provide this functionality if a table
   starts with .TS H instead of the standard call to the .TS macro.


   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.


   Since tbl defines its own  macros  (right  before  each  table)  it  is
   necessary  to  use  an  ‘end-of-macro’ macro.  Additionally, the escape
   character has to be switched off.  Here an example.

          .de ATABLE ..
          allbox tab(;);
          .ATABLE A table
          .ATABLE Another table
          .ATABLE And "another one"

   Note, however, that not all features of tbl can be wrapped into a macro
   because  tbl  sees  the  input earlier than troff.  For example, number
   formatting with  vertically  aligned  decimal  points  fails  if  those
   numbers  are  passed  on  as  macro  parameters  because  decimal point
   alignment is handled by tbl itself: It only sees  ‘\$1’,  ‘\$2’,  etc.,
   and therefore can't recognize the decimal point.


   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.

 directly in a table to get leaders does not  work  (except  in
   compatibility mode).  This is correct behaviour: 
 is an uninterpreted
   leader.  To get leaders use a real leader, either by using a control  A
   or like this:

          .ds a 

          lw(1i) l.

   A leading and/or trailing ‘|’ in a format line, such as

          |l r|.

   gives  output  which  has  a  1n  space between the resulting bordering
   vertical rule and the content of the adjacent column, as in

          |l r|.
          left column#right column

   If it is desired to have zero space  (so  that  the  rule  touches  the
   content),  this  can  be achieved by introducing extra “dummy” columns,
   with no content and zero separation, before and/or after, as in

          r0|l r0|l.
          #left column#right column#

   The resulting “dummy” columns are invisible and have zero  width;  note
   that such columns usually don't work with TTY devices.


   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)


   Copyright © 1989-2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

   Bernd Warken <groff-bernd.warken-72@web.de> added simple examples.

   Permission  is  granted  to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
   manual provided the copyright notice and  this  permission  notice  are
   preserved on all copies.

   Permission  is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of this
   manual under the conditions for verbatim  copying,  provided  that  the
   entire  resulting  derived  work  is  distributed  under the terms of a
   permission notice identical to this one.

   Permission is granted to  copy  and  distribute  translations  of  this
   manual  into  another language, under the above conditions for modified
   versions, except  that  this  permission  notice  may  be  included  in
   translations approved by the Free Software Foundation instead of in the
   original English.


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