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TBL(1)                                                                  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 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 (\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.

   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 exten-

              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 sep-
              aration 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).

       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 white-
       space 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 char-
       acter 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

       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 sub-
              columns  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 num-
              bers are aligned vertically.  If there is one or more dots adja-
              cent  to  a digit, use the rightmost one for vertical alignment.
              If there is no dot, use the rightmost digit for vertical  align-
              ment;  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.




              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  pur-

       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.

       =      Replace 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.

       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 let-
       ters (in any order):

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

       d,D    Start an item vertically spanning rows  at  the  bottom  of  its
              range rather than vertically centering it (GNU tbl only).

       e,E    Make equally-spaced columns.  All columns marked with this spec-
              ifier 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 sepa-
              rated  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 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

       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  separa-
              tion  number must be separated by one or more blanks.  No effect
              if the corresponding table entry isn't a text block.

       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    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  separa-
       tion in en units (multiplied in proportion if the expand option is on -
       in case of overfull tables this might be zero).  Default separation  is

       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  particu-
       lar  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 concate-

       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  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.

   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' 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 LxC/(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 neces-
       sary  to use an `end-of-macro' macro.  Additionally, the escape charac-
       ter 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  num-
       bers  are passed on as macro parameters because decimal point alignment
       is handled by tbl itself: It only sees `\$1', `\$2', etc.,  and  there-
       fore 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  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 does 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 1.20.1            09 January 2009                         TBL(1)