create PDF documents using groff
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-v | --version
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is a wrapper program for the GNU text processing system,
groff. It transparently handles the mechanics of
multiple pass groff processing, when applied to
suitably marked up groff source files, such that
tables of contents and body text are formatted separately,
and are subsequently combined in the correct order, for
final publication as a single PDF document. A further
optional “style sheet” capability is provided;
this allows for the definition of content which is required
to precede the table of contents, in the published
invocation of pdfroff, the ultimate groff
output stream is post-processed by the GhostScript
interpreter, to produce a finished PDF document.
makes no assumptions about, and imposes no restrictions on,
the use of any groff macro packages which the user
may choose to employ, in order to achieve a desired document
format; however, it does include specific built in
support for the pdfmark macro package, should the
user choose to employ it. Specifically, if the
pdfhref macro, defined in the pdfmark.tmac
package, is used to define public reference marks, or
dynamic links to such reference marks, then pdfroff
performs as many preformatting groff passes as
required, up to a maximum limit of four, in order to
compile a document reference dictionary, to resolve
references, and to expand the dynamically defined content of
accepts all of the short form options (i.e., those
introduced by a single hyphen), which are available with
groff itself. In most cases, these are simply passed
transparently to groff; the following, however, are
handled specially by pdfroff.
Same as --help; see below.
Process standard input, after all other specified input
files. This is passed transparently to groff, but, if
grouped with other options, it must be the first in
the group. Hiding it within a group breaks standard input
processing, in the multiple pass groff processing
context of pdfroff.
Only -T ps is supported by
pdfroff. Attempting to specify any other device
causes pdfroff to abort.
Same as --version; see below.
groff(1) for a description of all other short form
options, which are transparently passed through
pdfroff to groff.
All long form
options (i.e., those introduced by a double hyphen) are
interpreted locally by pdfroff; they are not
passed on to groff, unless otherwise stated
Causes pdfroff to display
a summary of the its usage syntax, and supported options,
and then exit.
Suppresses the final output
conversion step, causing pdfroff to emit PostScript
output instead of PDF. This may be useful, to capture
intermediate PostScript output, when using a specialised
postprocessor, such as gpresent for example, in place
of the default GhostScript PDF writer.
Suppresses the deletion of
temporary files, which normally occurs after pdfroff
has completed PDF document formatting; this may be useful,
when debugging formatting problems.
FILES, for a description of the temporary files used
May be used with the
option (described below) to eliminate the overhead of PDF
formatting, when running pdfroff to create a
reference dictionary, for use in a different document.
May be used to eliminate the
overhead of creating a reference dictionary, when it is
known that the target PDF document contains no public
references, created by the pdfhref macro.
May be used to eliminate the
extra groff processing pass, which is required to
generate a table of contents, and relocate it to the start
of the PDF document, when processing any document which
lacks an automatically generated table of contents.
While preparing for simulation
of the manual collation step, which is traditionally
required to relocate of a table of contents to the
start of a document, pdfroff accumulates a number of
empty page descriptions into the intermediate
PostScript output stream. During the final collation
step, these empty pages are normally discarded from the
finished document; this option forces pdfroff to
leave them in place.
Specifies the name to be used
for the resultant PDF document; if unspecified, the PDF
output is written to standard output. A future version of
pdfroff may use this option, to encode the document
name in a generated reference dictionary.
Specifies the name to be used
for the generated reference dictionary file; if unspecified,
the reference dictionary is created in a temporary file,
which is deleted when pdfroff completes processing of
the current document. This option must be specified,
if it is desired to save the reference dictionary, for use
in references placed in other PDF documents.
Causes pdfroff to
display an informational message on standard error, at the
start of each groff processing pass.
Specifies the name of an
input file, to be used as a style sheet for
formatting of content, which is to be placed before
the table of contents, in the formatted PDF document.
Causes pdfroff to
display a version identification message. The entire command
line is then passed transparently to groff, in a
one pass operation only, in order to display
the associated groff version information, before
The following environment variables may be set, and exported, to
modify the behaviour of pdfroff.
Specifies the program to be used for collation of the finshed PDF
This collation step may be required to move tables of
contents to the start of the finished PDF document, when
formatting with traditional macro packages, which print them at
the end. However, users should not normally need to specify
PDFROFF_COLLATE, (and indeed, are not encouraged to do
so). If unspecified, pdfroff uses sed(1) by
default, which normally suffices.
If PDFROFF_COLLATE is specified, then it must act
as a filter, accepting a list of file name arguments, and write
its output to the stdout stream, whence it is piped to the
PDFROFF_POSTPROCESSOR_COMMAND, to produce the finished PDF
When specifying PDFROFF_COLLATE, it is normally necessary
to also specify PDFROFF_KILL_NULL_PAGES.
PDFROFF_COLLATE is ignored, if pdfroff is invoked
with the --no-kill-null-pages option.
Specifies options to be passed to the PDFROFF_COLLATE
It should not normally be necessary to specify
PDFROFF_KILL_NULL_PAGES. The internal default is a
sed(1) script, which is intended to remove completely
blank pages from the collated output stream, and which should be
appropriate in most applications of pdfroff. However, if
any alternative to sed(1) is specified for
PDFROFF_COLLATE, then it is likely that a corresponding
alternative specification for PDFROFF_KILL_NULL_PAGES is
As in the case of PDFROFF_COLLATE,
PDFROFF_KILL_NULL_PAGES is ignored, if pdfroff is
invoked with the --no-kill-null-pages option.
Specifies the command to be used for the final document
conversion from PostScript intermediate output to PDF. It must
behave as a filter, writing its output to the stdout
stream, and must accept an arbitrary number of files ...
arguments, with the special case of - representing the
If unspecified, PDFROFF_POSTPROCESSOR_COMMAND defaults to
gs -dBATCH -dQUIET -dNOPAUSE -dSAFER -sDEVICE=pdfwrite
Identifies the directory in which pdfroff should create
temporary files. If GROFF_TMPDIR is not specified,
then the variables TMPDIR, TMP and TEMP are
considered in turn, as possible temporary file repositories. If
none of these are set, then temporary files are created in the
Specifies the program to be invoked, when pdfroff converts
groff PostScript output to PDF. If
PDFROFF_POSTPROCESSOR_COMMAND is specified, then the
command name it specifies is implicitly assigned to
GROFF_GHOSTSCRIPT_INTERPRETER, overriding any explicit
setting specified in the environment. If
GROFF_GHOSTSCRIPT_INTERPRETER is not specified, then
pdfroff searches the process PATH, looking for a
program with any of the well known names for the GhostScript
interpreter; if no GhostScript interpreter can be found,
Specifies the program to be invoked, when pdfroff is
extracting reference dictionary entries from a groff
intermediate message stream. If GROFF_AWK_INTERPRETER is
not specified, then pdfroff searches the process
PATH, looking for any of the preferred programs,
’gawk’, ’mawk’, ’nawk’ and
’awk’, in this order; if none of these are found,
pdfroff issues a warning message, and continue processing;
however, in this case, no reference dictionary is created.
Typically defined automatically by the operating system,
OSTYPE is used on Microsoft Win32/MS-DOS platforms
only, to infer the default PATH_SEPARATOR
character, which is used when parsing the process PATH to
search for external helper programs.
If set, PATH_SEPARATOR overrides the default separator
character, (’:’ on POSIX/UNIX systems, inferred from
OSTYPE on Microsoft Win32/MS-DOS), which is used when
parsing the process PATH to search for external helper
If this is set to a non-empty value, then pdfroff always
behaves as if the --report-progress option is specified,
on the command line.
Input and output files for pdfroff may be named according
to any convention of the user’s choice. Typically, input
files may be named according to the choice of the principal
formatting macro package, e.g., file.ms might be an
input file for formatting using the ms macros
(s.tmac); normally, the final output file should be named
Temporary files, created by pdfroff, are placed in the
file system hierarchy, in or below the directory specified by
environment variables (see section ENVIRONMENT). If
mktemp(1) is available, it is invoked to create a private
subdirectory of the nominated temporary files directory, (with
subdirectory name derived from the template
pdfroff-XXXXXXXXXX); if this subdirectory is successfully
created, the temporary files will be placed within it, otherwise
they will be placed directly in the directory nominated in the
All temporary files themselves are named according to the
convention pdf$$.*, where $$ is the
standard shell variable representing the process ID of the
pdfroff process itself, and * represents any of the
extensions used by pdfroff to identify the following
temporary and intermediate files.
A scratch pad file, used to capture reference data emitted by
groff, during the reference dictionary compilation
The reference dictionary, as compiled in the last but one
pass of the reference dictionary compilation phase; (at
the start of the first pass, this file is created empty; in
successive passes, it contains the reference dictionary
entries, as collected in the preceding pass).
If the --reference-dictionary=name option is
specified, this intermediate file becomes permanent, and is named
name, rather than pdf$$.ref.
Used to collect reference dictionary entries during the
active pass of the reference dictionary compilation phase.
At the end of any pass, when the content of
pdf$$.cmp compares as identical to
pdf$$.ref, (or the corresponding file named
by the --reference-dictionary=name option), then
reference dictionary compilation is terminated, and the
document reference map is appended to this intermediate
file, for inclusion in the final formatting passes.
An intermediate PostScript file, in which “Table of
Contents” entries are collected, to facilitate relocation
before the body text, on ultimate output to the
An intermediate PostScript file, in which the body text is
collected prior to ultimate output to the GhostScript
postprocessor, in the proper sequence, after
The command line is parsed in accordance with normal GNU
conventions, but with one exception — when specifying any
short form option (i.e., a single character option introduced by
a single hyphen), and if that option expects an argument, then it
must be specified independently (i.e., it may not
be appended to any group of other single character short form
Long form option names (i.e., those introduced by a double
hyphen) may be abbreviated to their minimum length unambiguous
Otherwise, pdfroff usage closely mirrors that of
groff itself. Indeed, with the exception of the -h,
-v, and -T dev short form options, and
all long form options, which are parsed internally by
pdfroff, all options and file name arguments specified on
the command line are passed on to groff, to control the
formatting of the PDF document. Consequently, pdfroff
accepts all options and arguments, as specified in
groff(1), which may also be considered as the definitive
reference for all standard pdfroff options and argument
groff for the definitive reference to document
formatting with groff. Since pdfroff provides
a superset of all groff capabilities, groff
may also be considered to be the definitive reference to all
standard capabilities of pdfroff, with this
document providing the reference to pdfroff’s
pdfroff imposes neither any restriction on, nor any
requirement for, the use of any specific groff macro
package, a number of supplied macro packages, and in
particular those associated with the package
pdfmark.tmac, are best suited for use with
pdfroff as the preferred formatter. Detailed
documentation on the use of these packages may be found, in
PDF format, in the reference guide “Portable
Document Format Publishing with GNU Troff”,
included in the installed documentation set as
© 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 Free Software Foundation,
This man page
is distributed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation
License (FDL), version 1.3 or later, and is part of the
GNU troff software package. It was originally written
Marshall (mailto:keith.d.marshall[:at:]ntlworld[:dot:]com), who also wrote the implementation of the
pdfroff program, to which it relates.
You should have
received a copy of the FDL as part of the GNU troff
distribution; it is also available on-line, at
copyleft site (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html).