groff_hdtbl - groff ‘hdtbl’ macros for generation of tables
The hdtbl macros consist of four base and three optional macros,
controlled by about twenty arguments. The syntax is simple and similar
to the HTML table model and nearly as flexible: You can write sequences
of tokens (macro calls with their arguments and content data),
separated by blanks and beginning with a macro call, into the same line
to get compact and cleanly arrranged input. An advantage of hdtbl is
that the tables are constructed without calling a preprocessor; this
means that groff’s full macro capabilities are available. On the other
hand, table processing with hdtbl is much slower than using the
tbl(@MAN1EXT) preprocessor. A further advantage is that the HTML-like
syntax of hdtbl will be easily converted to HTML; this is not
The simplest well-formed table consists of just single calls to the
four base table macros in the right order. Here we construct a table
with only one cell.
contents of the table cell
Equivalent to the above is the following notation.
.TBL .TR .TD contents of the table cell .ETB
By default, the formatted table is inserted into the surrounding text
at the place of its definition. If the vertical space isn’t
sufficient, it is placed at the top of the next page. Tables can also
be stored for later insertion.
Using ‘row-number*column-number’ as the data for the table cells, a
table with two rows and two columns can be written as
. TR .TD 1*1 .TD 1*2
. TR .TD 2*1 .TD 2*2
Here we see a difference to HTML tables: The number of columns must be
explicitly specified using the ‘cols=m’ argument (or indirectly via the
‘width’ argument, see below).
The contents of a table cell is arbitrary; for example, it can be
another table, without restriction to the nesting depth. A given table
layout can be either constructed with suitably nested tables or with
proper arguments to .TD and .TH, controlling column and row spanning.
Note, however, that this table
. nop 1*1 1*2
. TBL cols=2 border=
. nop 2*1
. nop 2*2
and this table
. TD colspan=2
. nop 1*1 1*2
. nop 2*1
. nop 2*2
are similar but not identical.
Here the latter table in a more compact form.
.TBL cols=2 .TR ".TD colspan=2" 1*1 1*2
. TR .TD 2*1 .TD 2*2 .ETB
If a macro has one or more arguments, and it is not starting a line, it
must be enclosed in double quotes.
MACROS AND ARGUMENTS
The order of macro calls and other tokens follows the HTML model. In
the following list, valid predecessors and successors of all hdtbl
macros are given, together with the possible arguments.
Macro arguments are separated by blanks. The order of arguments is
arbitrary; they are of the form
key='value1 [value2 [...]]'
with the only exception of the optional argument of the macro .ETB,
which is the string ‘hold’. Another possible form is
"key=value1 [value2 [...]]"
However, this is limited to the case where the macro is the first one
in the line and not already enclosed in double quotes.
Argument values specified below as c are colors predefined by groff or
colors defined by the user with the .defcolor request. Argument
values d are decimal numbers with or without decimal point. Argument
values m are natural numbers. Argument values n are numerical values
with the usual groff scaling indicators. Some of the arguments are
specific to one or two macros, but most of them can be specified with
.TBL, .TR, .TD, and .TH. These common arguments are explained in the
Most of the argument default values can be changed by the user by
setting corresponding default registers or strings, as listed below.
Begin a new table.
predecessor: .TD, .TH, .ETB, cell contents
successor: .CPTN, .TR
Thickness of the surrounding box border.
‘border=’ (no value) means neither a surrounding
box border nor any horizontal or vertical
separator lines between the table rows and cells.
‘border=0’ suppresses the surrounding box border,
but still allows separator lines between cells
Default: ‘border=.1n’ (register ‘t*b’).
bc=c Border color.
Default: ‘bc=red4’ (string ‘t*bc’).
cols=m Number of table columns. This argument is
necessary if more than one column is in the table
and no ‘width’ arguments are present.
Default: ‘cols=1’ (register ‘t*cols’).
cpd=n Cell padding, i.e., the extra space between the
cell space border and the cell contents.
Default: ‘cpd=.5n’ (register ‘t*cpd’).
csp=n Cell spacing, i.e., the extra space between the
table border or vertical or horizontal lines
between cells and the cellspace.
Default: ‘csp=.5n’ (register ‘t*csp’).
Horizontal alignment of the table, if it is
smaller than the line width. ‘tal=l’: left
alignment. ‘tal=c’: centered alignment.
‘tal=r’: right alignment.
Default: ‘tal=l’ (register ‘t*tal’).
width='w1 [w2 [...]]'
Widths of table cells. w1, w2, ... are either
numbers of type n or natural numbers with the
pseudo-scaling indicator ‘%’, with the meaning
“percent of the actual line length (or column
length for inner tables, respectively)”. If
there are less width values than table columns,
the last width value is used for the remaining
cells. The argument
for example indicates that the first column is
1.5inches wide; the remaining columns take 1/10
of the column length each.
Default: The table width equals the outer line
length or column length; the columns have equal
Height of the table. If the table with its
contents is lower than n, the last row is
stretched to this value.
Text of caption.
The (optionally numbered) table caption. .CPTN is optional.
Vertical alignment of the table caption.
‘val=t’: The caption is placed above the table.
‘val=b’: The caption is placed below the table.
Default: ‘val=t’ (string ‘t*cptn’).
Begin a new table row.
predecessor: .TBL, .CPTN, .TD, .TH, .ETB, cell contents
successor: .TD, .TH
The height of the row. If a cell in the row is
higher than n this value is ignored; otherwise
the row height is stretched to n.
.TD [args [cell contents]]
Begin a table data cell.
.TH [args [cell contents]]
Begin a table header cell.
Arguments and cell contents can be mixed. The macro .TH is not
really necessary and differs from .TD only in three default
settings, similar to the <TH> and <TD> HTML tags: The contents
of .TH is horizontally and vertically centered and typeset in
predecessor: .TR, .TD, .TH, .ETB, cell contents
successor: .TD, .TH, .TR, .ETB, cell contents
The width of this cell is the sum of the widths
of the m cells above and below this row.
The height of this cell is the sum of the heights
of the m cells left and right of this column.
Remark: Overlapping of column and row spanning,
as in the following table fragment (the
overlapping happens in the second cell in the
second row), is invalid and causes incorrect
.TR .TD 1*1 ".TD 1*2 rowspan=2" .TD 1*3
.TR ".TD 2*1 colspan=2" .TD 2*3
End of the table.
This macro finishes a table. It causes one of the following
· If the argument ‘hold’ is given, the table is held until it
is freed by calling the macro .t*free, which in turn prints
the table immediately, either at the current position or at
the top of the next page if its height is larger than the
remaining space on the page.
· Otherwise, if the table is higher than the remaining space on
the page, it is printed at the top of the next page.
· If none of the two above constraints hold, the table is
printed immediately at the place of its definition.
predecessor: .TD, .TH, .ETB, cell contents
successor: .TBL, .TR, .TD, .TH, .ETB, cell contents
hold Prevent the table from being printed until it is
freed by calling the macro .t*free. This
argument is ignored for inner (nested) tables.
Free the next held table or n held tables. Call this utility
macro to print tables which are held by using the ‘hold’
argument of the .ETB macro.
Arguments common to .TBL, .TR, .TD, and .TH
The arguments described in this section can be specified with the .TBL
and .TR macros, but they are eventually passed on to the table cells.
If omitted, the defaults take place, which the user can change by
setting the corresponding default registers or strings, as documented
below. Setting an argument with the .TBL macro has the same effect as
setting it for all rows in the table. Setting an argument with a .TR
macro has the same effect as setting it for all the .TH or .TD macro in
The background color of the table cells. This includes the area
specified with the ‘csp’ argument. The argument ‘bgc=’ (no
value) suppresses a background color; this makes the background
Default: ‘bgc=bisque’ (string ‘t*bgc’).
fgc=c The foreground color of the cell contents.
Default: ‘fgc=red4’ (string ‘t*fgc’).
The font family for the table. name is one of the groff font
families, for example A for the AvantGarde fonts or HN for
Default: The font family found before the table (string ‘t*ff’).
The font style for the table. One of R, I, B, or BI for roman,
bold, italic, or bold italic, respectively. As with roff’s .ft
request the ‘fst’ argument can be used to specify the font
family and font style together, for example ‘fst=HNBI’ instead
of ‘ff=HN’ and ‘fst=BI’.
Default: The font style in use right before the table (string
A decimal or fractional factor d1, by which the point size for
the table is changed, and d2, by which the vertical line spacing
is changed. If d2 is omitted, value d1 is taken for both.
Default: ‘fsz='1.0 1.0'’ (string ‘t*fsz’).
Horizontal alignment of the cell contents in the table.
‘hal=l’: left alignment. ‘hal=c’: centered alignment. ‘hal=b’:
both (left and right) alignment. ‘hal=r’: right alignment.
Default: ‘hal=b’ (string ‘t*hal’).
Vertical alignment of the cell contents in the table for cells
lower than the current row. ‘val=t’: alignment below the top of
the cell. ‘val=m’: alignment in the middle of the cell.
‘val=b’: alignment above the cell bottom.
Default: ‘val=t’ (string ‘t*val’).
Horizontal line between the rows. If specified with .TD or .TH
this is a separator line to the cell below. ‘hl=’ (no value):
no separator line. ‘hl=s’: a single separator line between the
rows. ‘hl=d’: a double separator line.
The thickness of the separator lines is the half of the border
thickness, but at least 0.1inches. The distance between the
double lines is equal to the line thickness.
Remark: Together with ‘border=0’ for proper formatting the value
of ‘csp’ must be at least .05inches for single separator lines
and .15inches for double separator lines.
Default: ‘hl=s’ (string ‘t*hl’).
Vertical separator line between the cells. If specified with
.TD or .TH this is a separator line to the cell on the right.
‘vl=s’: a single separator line between the cells. ‘vl=d’: a
double separator line. ‘vl=’ (no value): no vertical cell
separator lines. For more information see the documentation of
the ‘hl’ argument above.
Default: ‘vl=s’ (string ‘t*vl’).
A table which does not fit on a partially filled page is printed
automatically on the top of the next page if you append the little
utility macro t*hm to the page header macro of your document’s main
macro package. For example, say
if you use the ms macro package.
hdtbl has built-in page header and page footer macros, HM and BM. If
they interfere with your own header and footer macros, simply say
.rm HM and .rm BM to remove them.
BUGS AND SUGGESTIONS
Please send your commments to the groff mailing list or directly to the