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
              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  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

       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
       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 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 spec-
              ifier get the same width; this happens after the affected column
              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    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  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

       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).
       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
       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.

       A leading and/or trailing `|' in a format line, such as

              |l r|.

       gives  output which has a 1n space between the resulting bordering ver-
       tical 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  con-
       tent),  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.
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