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       tbl - format tables for troff


       [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

              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).

       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:

                     .TS tab(;); ln,an.   item  one;1  subitem  two;2  subitem
                     three;3  .T&  ln,an.  item eleven;11 subitem twentytwo;22
                     subitem thirtythree;33 .TE


                     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:

                     .TS n.  1 1.5 1.5.3 abcde a\&bcde .TE



              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.

       =      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
       letters (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
              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    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
       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

              .TS c,l.  \s[20]MM MMMM .TE

       fail; you must either say

              .TS cp20,lp20.  MM MMMM .TE


              .TS c,l.  \s[20]MM \s[20]MMMM .TE

       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’ 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.

              .eo  .de ATABLE ..  .TS allbox tab(;); cl.  \$1;\$2 .TE ...  .ec
              .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.

       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 .TS tab(;); lw(1i) l.  A\*a;B .TE


       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)