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 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  charac‐
              ter  other  than  space  or  newline.  Leader characters (\a) are handled as inter‐

       -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  struc‐

       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 optional.

       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
              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 right-justified.

   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 charac‐
       ters 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 extension).

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

              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  some‐
              times 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

       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 sep‐
       arated 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 sub‐
              columns (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.  Exam‐

                     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 ver‐
              tically.   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 align‐
              ment.  Example:




              If numerical entries are combined with L or R entries – this can happen if the  ta‐
              ble  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

              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 align‐
              ment, as described above.  Using the global delim option, however, it  is  possible
              to make tbl ignore the data within eqn delimiters for that purpose.

       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 lines.

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

       |      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  pro‐
       duces 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

   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 char‐
              acters 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-let‐
              ter 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  cur‐
              rently,  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  verti‐
              cally 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  incre‐
              mented 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 num‐
              ber  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  col‐
              umn,  distribute  the  remaining horizontal space evenly among the affected columns
              (this is a GNU extension).  This feature has the same effect as specifying a  mini‐
              mum 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 (mul‐
       tiplied  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 concatena‐

       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 like


       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 neighbours.

       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 neighbours).

       A data item consisting only of ‘\^’ indicates that the field immediately above spans down‐
       ward 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 sim‐
       ple  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 enter‐
       ing 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

              .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 dec‐
       imal 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.

       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 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  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 dis‐
       tributed under the terms of a permission notice identical to this one.

       Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this manual into another lan‐
       guage,  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.

Groff Version 1.22.3                     28 January 2016                                   TBL(1)


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