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MANDOC(1) General Commands Manual MANDOC(1)

mandocformat manual pages

mandoc [-ac] [-I os=name] [-K encoding] [-mdoc | -man] [-O options] [-T output] [-W level] [file ...]

The mandoc utility formats manual pages for display.

By default, mandoc reads mdoc(7) or man(7) text from stdin and produces -T locale output.

The options are as follows:

If the standard output is a terminal device and -c is not specified, use more(1) to paginate the output, just like man(1) would.
Copy the formatted manual pages to the standard output without using more(1) to paginate them. This is the default. It can be specified to override -a.
Override the default operating system name for the mdoc(7) Os and for the man(7) TH macro.
Specify the input encoding. The supported encoding arguments are us-ascii, iso-8859-1, and utf-8. If not specified, autodetection uses the first match in the following list:
  1. If the first three bytes of the input file are the UTF-8 byte order mark (BOM, 0xefbbbf), input is interpreted as utf-8.
  2. If the first or second line of the input file matches the mode line format

    .\" -*- [...;] coding: encoding; -*-

    then input is interpreted according to encoding.

  3. If the first non-ASCII byte in the file introduces a valid UTF-8 sequence, input is interpreted as utf-8.
  4. Otherwise, input is interpreted as iso-8859-1.
With -mdoc, all input files are interpreted as mdoc(7). With -man, all input files are interpreted as man(7). By default, the input language is automatically detected for each file: if the first macro is Dd or Dt, the mdoc(7) parser is used; otherwise, the man(7) parser is used. With other arguments, -m is silently ignored.
Comma-separated output options. See the descriptions of the individual output formats for supported options.
Select the output format. Supported values for the output argument are ascii, html, the default of locale, man, markdown, pdf, ps, tree, and utf8.

The special -T lint mode only parses the input and produces no output. It implies -W all and redirects parser messages, which usually appear on standard error output, to standard output.

Specify the minimum message level to be reported on the standard error output and to affect the exit status. The level can be base, style, warning, error, or unsupp. The base level automatically derives the operating system from the contents of the Os macro, from the -Ios command line option, or from the uname(3) return value. The levels openbsd and netbsd are variants of base that bypass autodetection and request validation of base system conventions for a particular operating system. The level all is an alias for base. By default, mandoc is silent. See EXIT STATUS and DIAGNOSTICS for details.

The special option -W stop tells mandoc to exit after parsing a file that causes warnings or errors of at least the requested level. No formatted output will be produced from that file. If both a level and stop are requested, they can be joined with a comma, for example -W error,stop.

Read from the given input file. If multiple files are specified, they are processed in the given order. If unspecified, mandoc reads from standard input.

The options -fhklw are also supported and are documented in man(1). In -f and -k mode, mandoc also supports the options -CMmOSs described in the apropos(1) manual. The options -fkl are mutually exclusive and override each other.

Use -T ascii to force text output in 7-bit ASCII character encoding documented in the ascii(7) manual page, ignoring the locale(1) set in the environment.

Font styles are applied by using back-spaced encoding such that an underlined character ‘c’ is rendered as ‘_\[bs]c’, where ‘\[bs]’ is the back-space character number 8. Emboldened characters are rendered as ‘c\[bs]c’. This markup is typically converted to appropriate terminal sequences by the pager or ul(1). To remove the markup, pipe the output to col(1) -b instead.

The special characters documented in mandoc_char(7) are rendered best-effort in an ASCII equivalent. In particular, opening and closing ‘single quotes’ are represented as characters number 0x60 and 0x27, respectively, which agrees with all ASCII standards from 1965 to the latest revision (2012) and which matches the traditional way in which roff(7) formatters represent single quotes in ASCII output. This correct ASCII rendering may look strange with modern Unicode-compatible fonts because contrary to ASCII, Unicode uses the code point U+0060 for the grave accent only, never for an opening quote.

The following -O arguments are accepted:

The left margin for normal text is set to indent blank characters instead of the default of five for mdoc(7) and seven for man(7). Increasing this is not recommended; it may result in degraded formatting, for example overfull lines or ugly line breaks. When output is to a pager on a terminal that is less than 66 columns wide, the default is reduced to three columns.
Format man(7) input files in mdoc(7) output style. Specifically, this suppresses the two additional blank lines near the top and the bottom of each page, and it implies -O indent=5. One useful application is for checking that -T man output formats in the same way as the mdoc(7) source it was generated from.
If the formatted manual page is opened in a pager, go to the definition of the term rather than showing the manual page from the beginning. If no term is specified, reuse the first command line argument that is not a section number. If that argument is in apropos(1) key=val format, only the val is used rather than the argument as a whole. This is useful for commands like ‘man -akO tag Ic=ulimit’ to search for a keyword and jump right to its definition in the matching manual pages.
The output width is set to width instead of the default of 78. When output is to a pager on a terminal that is less than 79 columns wide, the default is reduced to one less than the terminal width. In any case, lines that are output in literal mode are never wrapped and may exceed the output width.

Output produced by -T html conforms to HTML5 using optional self-closing tags. Default styles use only CSS1. Equations rendered from eqn(7) blocks use MathML.

The file /usr/share/misc/mandoc.css documents style-sheet classes available for customising output. If a style-sheet is not specified with -O style, -T html defaults to simple output (via an embedded style-sheet) readable in any graphical or text-based web browser.

Non-ASCII characters are rendered as hexadecimal Unicode character references.

The following -O arguments are accepted:

Omit the <!DOCTYPE> declaration and the <html>, <head>, and <body> elements and only emit the subtree below the <body> element. The style argument will be ignored. This is useful when embedding manual content within existing documents.
The string fmt, for example, ../src/%I.html, is used as a template for linked header files (usually via the In macro). Instances of ‘%I’ are replaced with the include filename. The default is not to present a hyperlink.
The string fmt, for example, ../html%S/%N.%S.html, is used as a template for linked manuals (usually via the Xr macro). Instances of ‘%N’ and ‘%S’ are replaced with the linked manual's name and section, respectively. If no section is included, section 1 is assumed. The default is not to present a hyperlink. If two formats are given and a file %N.%S exists in the current directory, the first format is used; otherwise, the second format is used.
The file style.css is used for an external style-sheet. This must be a valid absolute or relative URI.
If an input file contains at least two non-standard sections, print a table of contents near the beginning of the output.

By default, mandoc automatically selects UTF-8 or ASCII output according to the current locale(1). If any of the environment variables LC_ALL, LC_CTYPE, or LANG are set and the first one that is set selects the UTF-8 character encoding, it produces UTF-8 Output; otherwise, it falls back to ASCII Output. This output mode can also be selected explicitly with -T locale.

Use -T man to translate mdoc(7) input into man(7) output format. This is useful for distributing manual sources to legacy systems lacking mdoc(7) formatters.

If the input format of a file is man(7), the input is copied to the output, expanding any roff(7) so requests. The parser is also run, and as usual, the -W level controls which DIAGNOSTICS are displayed before copying the input to the output.

Use -T markdown to translate mdoc(7) input to the markdown format conforming to John Gruber's 2004 specification. The output also almost conforms to the CommonMark specification.

The character set used for the markdown output is ASCII. Non-ASCII characters are encoded as HTML entities. Since that is not possible in literal font contexts, because these are rendered as code spans and code blocks in the markdown output, non-ASCII characters are transliterated to ASCII approximations in these contexts.

Markdown is a very weak markup language, so all semantic markup is lost, and even part of the presentational markup may be lost. Do not use this as an intermediate step in converting to HTML; instead, use -T html directly.

The man(7), tbl(7), and eqn(7) input languages are not supported by -T markdown output mode.

PDF-1.1 output may be generated by -T pdf. See PostScript Output for -O arguments and defaults.

PostScript "Adobe-3.0" Level-2 pages may be generated by -T ps. Output pages default to letter sized and are rendered in the Times font family, 11-point. Margins are calculated as 1/9 the page length and width. Line-height is 1.4m.

Special characters are rendered as in ASCII Output.

The following -O arguments are accepted:

The paper size name may be one of a3, a4, a5, legal, or letter. You may also manually specify dimensions as NNxNN, width by height in millimetres. If an unknown value is encountered, letter is used.

Use -T utf8 to force text output in UTF-8 multi-byte character encoding, ignoring the locale(1) settings in the environment. See ASCII Output regarding font styles and -O arguments.

On operating systems lacking locale or wide character support, and on those where the internal character representation is not UCS-4, mandoc always falls back to ASCII Output.

Use -T tree to show a human readable representation of the syntax tree. It is useful for debugging the source code of manual pages. The exact format is subject to change, so don't write parsers for it.

The first paragraph shows meta data found in the mdoc(7) prologue, on the man(7) TH line, or the fallbacks used.

In the tree dump, each output line shows one syntax tree node. Child nodes are indented with respect to their parent node. The columns are:

  1. For macro nodes, the macro name; for text and tbl(7) nodes, the content. There is a special format for eqn(7) nodes.
  2. Node type (text, elem, block, head, body, body-end, tail, tbl, eqn).
  3. Flags:
    • An opening parenthesis if the node is an opening delimiter.
    • An asterisk if the node starts a new input line.
    • The input line number (starting at one).
    • A colon.
    • The input column number (starting at one).
    • A closing parenthesis if the node is a closing delimiter.
    • A full stop if the node ends a sentence.
    • BROKEN if the node is a block broken by another block.
    • NOSRC if the node is not in the input file, but automatically generated from macros.
    • NOPRT if the node is not supposed to generate output for any output format.

The following -O argument is accepted:

Skip validation and show the unvalidated syntax tree. This can help to find out whether a given behaviour is caused by the parser or by the validator. Meta data is not available in this case.

The character encoding locale(1). When Locale Output is selected, it decides whether to use ASCII or UTF-8 output format. It never affects the interpretation of input files.
Any non-empty value of the environment variable MANPAGER is used instead of the standard pagination program, more(1); see man(1) for details. Only used if -a or -l is specified.
Specifies the pagination program to use when MANPAGER is not defined. If neither PAGER nor MANPAGER is defined, more(1) -s is used. Only used if -a or -l is specified.

The mandoc utility exits with one of the following values, controlled by the message level associated with the -W option:

No base system convention violations, style suggestions, warnings, or errors occurred, or those that did were ignored because they were lower than the requested level.
At least one base system convention violation or style suggestion occurred, but no warning or error, and -W base or -W style was specified.
At least one warning occurred, but no error, and -W warning or a lower level was requested.
At least one parsing error occurred, but no unsupported feature was encountered, and -W error or a lower level was requested.
At least one unsupported feature was encountered, and -W unsupp or a lower level was requested.
Invalid command line arguments were specified. No input files have been read.
An operating system error occurred, for example exhaustion of memory, file descriptors, or process table entries. Such errors cause mandoc to exit at once, possibly in the middle of parsing or formatting a file.

Note that selecting -T lint output mode implies -W all.

To page manuals to the terminal:

$ mandoc -l mandoc.1 man.1 apropos.1 makewhatis.8

To produce HTML manuals with /usr/share/misc/mandoc.css as the style-sheet:

$ mandoc -T html -O style=/usr/share/misc/mandoc.css mdoc.7 > mdoc.7.html

To check over a large set of manuals:

$ mandoc -T lint `find /usr/src -name \*\.[1-9]`

To produce a series of PostScript manuals for A4 paper:

$ mandoc -T ps -O paper=a4 mdoc.7 man.7 >

Convert a modern mdoc(7) manual to the older man(7) format, for use on systems lacking an mdoc(7) parser:

$ mandoc -T man foo.mdoc >

Messages displayed by mandoc follow this format:

mandoc: file:line:column: level: message: macro arguments (os)

The first three fields identify the file name, line number, and column number of the input file where the message was triggered. The line and column numbers start at 1. Both are omitted for messages referring to an input file as a whole. All level and message strings are explained below. The name of the macro triggering the message and its arguments are omitted where meaningless. The os operating system specifier is omitted for messages that are relevant for all operating systems. Fatal messages about invalid command line arguments or operating system errors, for example when memory is exhausted, may also omit the file and level fields.

Message levels have the following meanings:

An input file uses unsupported low-level roff(7) features. The output may be incomplete and/or misformatted, so using GNU troff instead of mandoc to process the file may be preferable.
Indicates a risk of information loss or severe misformatting, in most cases caused by serious syntax errors.
Indicates a risk that the information shown or its formatting may mismatch the author's intent in minor ways. Additionally, syntax errors are classified at least as warnings, even if they do not usually cause misformatting.
An input file uses dubious or discouraged style. This is not a complaint about the syntax, and probably neither formatting nor portability are in danger. While great care is taken to avoid false positives on the higher message levels, the style level tries to reduce the probability that issues go unnoticed, so it may occasionally issue bogus suggestions. Please use your good judgement to decide whether any particular style suggestion really justifies a change to the input file.
A convention used in the base system of a specific operating system is not adhered to. These are not markup mistakes, and neither the quality of formatting nor portability are in danger. Messages of the base level are printed with the more intuitive style level tag.

Messages of the base, style, warning, error, and unsupp levels except those about non-existent or unreadable input files are hidden unless their level, or a lower level, is requested using a -W option or -T lint output mode.

As indicated below, all base and some style checks are only performed if a specific operating system name occurs in the arguments of the -W command line option, of the Os macro, of the -Ios command line option, or, if neither are present, in the return value of the uname(3) function.

(mdoc, NetBSD) The Dd macro uses CVS Mdocdate keyword substitution, which is not supported by the NetBSD base system. Consider using the conventional “Month dd, yyyy” format instead.
(mdoc, OpenBSD) The Dd macro does not use CVS Mdocdate keyword substitution, but using it is conventionally expected in the OpenBSD base system.
(mdoc, OpenBSD, NetBSD) The third argument of the Dt macro does not match any of the architectures this operating system is running on.
(mdoc, OpenBSD, NetBSD) The Os macro has an argument. In the base system, it is conventionally left blank.
(OpenBSD, NetBSD) The manual page lacks the comment line with the RCS identifier generated by CVS OpenBSD or NetBSD keyword substitution as conventionally used in these operating systems.
(mdoc) An Xr macro references a manual page that is not found in the base system. The path to look for base system manuals is configurable at compile time and defaults to /usr/share/man: /usr/X11R6/man.

(mdoc) The Dd macro uses the legacy man(7) date format “yyyy-dd-mm”. Consider using the conventional mdoc(7) date format “Month dd, yyyy” instead.
: ...
(mdoc, man) The Dd or TH macro provides an abbreviated month name or a day number with a leading zero. In the formatted output, the month name is written out in full and the leading zero is omitted.
(mdoc, man) The title is still used as given in the Dt or TH macro.
A single manual page contains two copies of the RCS identifier for the same operating system. Consider deleting the later instance and moving the first one up to the top of the page.
(mdoc) Fuzzy string matching revealed that the argument of an Sh macro is similar, but not identical to a standard section name.
(roff) Macro arguments can be enclosed in double quote characters such that space characters and macro names contained in the quoted argument need not be escaped. The closing quote of the last argument of a macro can be omitted. However, omitting it is not recommended because it makes the code harder to read.
(mdoc) A Bt, Tn, or Ud macro was found. Simply delete it: it serves no useful purpose.
(mdoc) A string was found in plain text or in a Bx macro that could be represented using Ox, Nx, Fx, or Dx.
(mdoc, NetBSD) The Er items in a Bl list are not in alphabetical order.
(mdoc, NetBSD) A Bl list contains two consecutive It entries describing the same Er number.
(mdoc) The last argument of an Ex, Fo, Nd, Nm, Os, Sh, Ss, St, or Sx macro ends with a trailing delimiter. This is usually bad style and often indicates typos. Most likely, the delimiter can be removed.
(mdoc) The last argument of a macro that supports trailing delimiter arguments is longer than one byte and ends with a trailing delimiter. Consider inserting a blank such that the delimiter becomes a separate argument, thus moving it out of the scope of the macro.
(man) A fi request occurs even though the document is still in fill mode, or already switched back to fill mode. It has no effect.
(man) An nf request occurs even though the document already switched to no-fill mode and did not switch back to fill mode yet. It has no effect.
(mdoc) Even though the ASCII output device renders an em-dash as "--", that is not a good way to write it in an input file because it renders poorly on all other output devices.
(mdoc) A word followed by an empty pair of parentheses occurs on a text line. Consider using an Fn or Xr macro.
(mdoc, man, roff) Whitespace at the end of input lines is almost never semantically significant — but in the odd case where it might be, it is extremely confusing when reviewing and maintaining documents.
(roff) Comment lines start with a dot, a backslash, and a double-quote character. The mandoc utility treats the line as a comment line even without the backslash, but leaving out the backslash might not be portable.
(mdoc) A Dt macro has no arguments, or there is no Dt macro before the first non-prologue macro.
(man) There is no TH macro, or it has no arguments.
(mdoc, man) A Dt or TH macro lacks the mandatory section argument.
(mdoc) The section number in a Dt line is invalid, but still used.
(mdoc, man) The document was parsed as mdoc(7) and it has no Dd macro, or the Dd macro has no arguments or only empty arguments; or the document was parsed as man(7) and it has no TH macro, or the TH macro has less than three arguments or its third argument is empty.
(mdoc, man) The date given in a Dd or TH macro does not follow the conventional format.
(mdoc, man) The date given in a Dd or TH macro is more than a day ahead of the current system time(3).
(mdoc) The default or current system is not shown in this case.
(mdoc) A Dd or Os macro occurs after some non-prologue macro, but still takes effect.
(mdoc) The prologue macros are not given in the conventional order Dd, Dt, Os. All three macros are used even when given in another order.

(roff) Including files only works when the parser program runs with the correct current working directory.
(mdoc, man) The document body contains neither text nor macros. An empty document is shown, consisting only of a header and a footer line.
(mdoc, man) Some macros or text precede the first Sh or SH section header. The offending macros and text are parsed and added to the top level of the syntax tree, outside any section block.
(mdoc) The argument of the first Sh macro is not ‘NAME’. This may confuse makewhatis(8) and apropos(1).
NAME section without Nm before Nd
(mdoc) The NAME section does not contain any Nm child macro before the first Nd macro.
NAME section without description
(mdoc) The NAME section lacks the mandatory Nd child macro.
(mdoc) The NAME section does contain an Nd child macro, but other content follows it.
(mdoc) The NAME section contains plain text or macros other than Nm and Nd.
(mdoc) The NAME section contains an Nm macro that is neither the first one nor preceded by a comma.
(mdoc) The Nd macro lacks the required argument. The title line of the manual will end after the dash.
(mdoc) An Nd macro appears outside the NAME section. The arguments are printed anyway and the following text is used for apropos(1), but none of that behaviour is portable.
(mdoc) A standard section occurs after another section it usually precedes. All section titles are used as given, and the order of sections is not changed.
(mdoc) The same standard section title occurs more than once.
(mdoc) A standard section header occurs in a section of the manual where it normally isn't useful.
(mdoc) An Xr macro refers to a name and section matching the section of the present manual page and a name mentioned in an Nm macro in the NAME or SYNOPSIS section, or in an Fn or Fo macro in the SYNOPSIS. Consider using Nm or Fn instead of Xr.
(mdoc) In the SEE ALSO section, an Xr macro with a lower section number follows one with a higher number, or two Xr macros referring to the same section are out of alphabetical order.
(mdoc) In the SEE ALSO section, punctuation between two Xr macros differs from a single comma, or there is trailing punctuation after the last Xr macro.
AUTHORS section without An macro
(mdoc) An AUTHORS sections contains no An macros, or only empty ones. Probably, there are author names lacking markup.
(mdoc) See the mdoc(7) manual for replacements.
(mdoc) The name of a macro that is not callable appears on a macro line. It is printed verbatim. If the intention is to call it, move it to its own input line; otherwise, escape it by prepending ‘\&’.
In mdoc(7) documents, this happens
  • at the beginning and end of sections and subsections
  • right before non-compact lists and displays
  • at the end of items in non-column, non-compact lists
  • and for multiple consecutive paragraph macros.
In man(7) documents, it happens
  • for empty P, PP, and LP macros
  • for IP macros having neither head nor body arguments
  • for br or sp right after SH or SS
(mdoc) A list item in a Bl list contains a trailing paragraph macro. The paragraph macro is moved after the end of the list.
(mdoc) An input line begins with an Ns macro, or the next argument after an Ns macro is an isolated closing delimiter. The macro is ignored.
(mdoc) If two blocks intersect, one should completely contain the other. Otherwise, rendered output is likely to look strange in any output format, and rendering in SGML-based output formats is likely to be outright wrong because such languages do not support badly nested blocks at all. Typical examples of badly nested blocks are "Ao Bo Ac Bc" and "Ao Bq Ac". In these examples, Ac breaks Bo and Bq, respectively.
(mdoc) A Bd, D1, or Dl display occurs nested inside another Bd display. This works with mandoc, but fails with most other implementations.
(mdoc) A Bl list block contains text or macros before the first It macro. The offending children are moved before the beginning of the list.
Inside a Bl -column list, a Ta macro occurs as the first macro on a line, which is not portable.
(man) While parsing the next-line scope of the previous macro, another macro is found that prematurely terminates the previous one. The previous, interrupted macro is deleted from the parse tree.
(roff, eqn) The macro name is missing from a macro definition request, or an eqn(7) control statement or operation keyword lacks its required argument.
(roff) A conditional request is only useful if any of the following follows it on the same logical input line:
  • The ‘\{’ keyword to open a multi-line scope.
  • A request or macro or some text, resulting in a single-line scope.
  • The immediate end of the logical line without any intervening whitespace, resulting in next-line scope.
Here, a conditional request is followed by trailing whitespace only, and there is no other content on its logical input line. Note that it doesn't matter whether the logical input line is split across multiple physical input lines using ‘\’ line continuation characters. This is one of the rare cases where trailing whitespace is syntactically significant. The conditional request controls a scope containing whitespace only, so it is unlikely to have a significant effect, except that it may control a following el clause.
(mdoc) The indicated macro has no arguments and hence no effect.
(mdoc, man) A Bd, Bk, Bl, D1, Dl, MT, RS, or UR block contains nothing in its body and will produce no output.
(mdoc) The required width is missing after Bd or Bl -offset or -width.
(mdoc) The Bd macro is invoked without the required display type.
(mdoc) In a Bl macro, at least one other argument precedes the type argument. The mandoc utility copes with any argument order, but some other mdoc(7) implementations do not.
(mdoc) Every Bl macro having the -tag argument requires -width, too.
(mdoc) The Ex -std macro is called without an argument before Nm has first been called with an argument.
(mdoc) The Fo macro is called without an argument. No function name is printed.
(mdoc) In a Bl -diag, -hang, -inset, -ohang, or -tag list, an It macro lacks the required argument. The item head is left empty.
(mdoc) In a Bl -bullet, -dash, -enum, or -hyphen list, an It block is empty. An empty list item is shown.
(mdoc) An It macro in a Bd -column list has no arguments. While mandoc uses the text or macros of the following line, if any, for the cell, other formatters may misformat the list.
(mdoc) A Bf macro has no argument. It switches to the default font.
(mdoc) The Bf argument is invalid. The default font is used instead.
(mdoc) A Pf macro has no argument, or only one argument and no macro follows on the same input line. This defeats its purpose; in particular, spacing is not suppressed before the text or macros following on the next input line.
(mdoc) An Rs macro is immediately followed by an Re macro on the next input line. Such an empty block does not produce any output.
(mdoc) An Xr macro lacks its second, section number argument. The first argument, i.e. the name, is printed, but without subsequent parentheses.
(mdoc) An Ex or Rv macro lacks the required -std argument. The mandoc utility assumes -std even when it is not specified, but other implementations may not.
(man) The OP macro is invoked without any argument. An empty pair of square brackets is shown.
(man) The MT or UR macro is invoked without any argument. An empty pair of angle brackets is shown.
(eqn) A diacritic mark or a binary operator is found, but there is nothing to the left of it. An empty box is inserted.
(mdoc) A Bd or Bl macro has more than one -compact, more than one -offset, or more than one -width argument. All but the last instances of these arguments are ignored.
(mdoc) An An macro has more than one -split or -nosplit argument. All but the first of these arguments are ignored.
(mdoc) A Bd macro has more than one type argument; the first one is used.
(mdoc) A Bl macro has more than one type argument; the first one is used.
(mdoc) A Bl -column, -diag, -ohang, -inset, or -item list has a -width argument. That has no effect.
In a line of a Bl -column list, the number of tabs or Ta macros is less than the number expected from the list header line or exceeds the expected number by more than one. Missing cells remain empty, and all cells exceeding the number of columns are joined into one single cell.
(mdoc) An At macro has an invalid argument. It is used verbatim, with "AT&T UNIX " prefixed to it.
(mdoc) An argument of an Fa or Fn macro contains a comma; it should probably be split into two arguments.
(mdoc) The first argument of an Fc or Fn macro contains an opening or closing parenthesis; that's probably wrong, parentheses are added automatically.
(mdoc, not on OpenBSD) An Lb macro has an unknown name argument and will be rendered as "library “name”".
(mdoc) An Rs block contains plain text or non-% macros. The bogus content is left in the syntax tree. Formatting may be poor.
(mdoc) An Sm macro has an argument other than on or off. The invalid argument is moved out of the macro, which leaves the macro empty, causing it to toggle the spacing mode.
(roff) The second argument of a char request contains more than one font escape sequence. A wrong font may remain active after using the character.
(man, tbl) A roff(7) ft request or a tbl(7) f layout modifier has an unknown font argument.
(roff) A tr request contains an odd number of characters. The last character is mapped to the blank character.
(mdoc) The meaning of blank input lines is only well-defined in non-fill mode: In fill mode, line breaks of text input lines are not supposed to be significant. However, for compatibility with groff, blank lines in fill mode are replaced with sp requests.
(mdoc, man) The meaning of tab characters is only well-defined in non-fill mode: In fill mode, whitespace is not supposed to be significant on text input lines. As an implementation dependent choice, tab characters on text lines are passed through to the formatters in any case. Given that the text before the tab character will be filled, it is hard to predict which tab stop position the tab will advance to.
(mdoc) A new sentence starts in the middle of a text line. Start it on a new input line to help formatters produce correct spacing.
(roff) An escape sequence has an invalid opening argument delimiter, lacks the closing argument delimiter, the argument is of an invalid form, or it is a character escape sequence with an invalid name. If the argument is incomplete, \* and \n expand to an empty string, \B to the digit ‘0’, and \w to the length of the incomplete argument. All other invalid escape sequences are ignored.
(roff) In an escape sequence, the first character right after the leading backslash is invalid. That character is printed literally, which is equivalent to ignoring the backslash.
(roff) If a string is used without being defined before, its value is implicitly set to the empty string. However, defining strings explicitly before use keeps the code more readable.
(tbl) The first cell in a table layout line is a horizontal span (‘s’). Data provided for this cell is ignored, and nothing is printed in the cell.
(tbl) The first line of a table layout specification requests a vertical span (‘^’). Data provided for this cell is ignored, and nothing is printed in the cell.
(tbl) A table layout specification contains more than two consecutive vertical bars. A double bar is printed, all additional bars are discarded.
(tbl) The table options line contains a character other than a letter, blank, or comma where the beginning of an option name is expected. The character is ignored.
(tbl) The table options line contains a string of letters that does not match any known option name. The word is ignored.
(tbl) A table option that requires an argument is not followed by an opening parenthesis, or the opening parenthesis is immediately followed by a closing parenthesis. The option is ignored.
(tbl) A table option argument contains an invalid number of characters. Both the option and the argument are ignored.
(tbl) A table layout specification is completely empty, specifying zero lines and zero columns. As a fallback, a single left-justified column is used.
(tbl) A table layout specification contains a character that can neither be interpreted as a layout key character nor as a layout modifier, or a modifier precedes the first key. The invalid character is discarded.
(tbl) A table layout specification contains an opening parenthesis, but no matching closing parenthesis. The rest of the input line, starting from the parenthesis, has no effect.
(tbl) A table does not contain any data cells. It will probably produce no output.
(tbl) A table cell is marked as a horizontal span (‘s’) or vertical span (‘^’) in the table layout, but it contains data. The data is ignored.
(tbl) A data line contains more cells than the corresponding layout line. The data in the extra cells is ignored.
(tbl) A data block is opened with T{, but never closed with a matching T}. The remaining data lines of the table are all put into one cell, and any remaining cells stay empty.
(mdoc) One of the prologue macros occurs more than once. The last instance overrides all previous ones.
(mdoc) The Dt macro appears after the first non-prologue macro. Traditional formatters cannot handle this because they write the page header before parsing the document body. Even though this technical restriction does not apply to mandoc, traditional semantics is preserved. The late macro is discarded including its arguments.
(roff) Explicit recursion limits are implemented for the following features, in order to prevent infinite loops:
  • expansion of nested escape sequences including expansion of strings and number registers,
  • expansion of nested user-defined macros,
  • and so file inclusion.
When a limit is hit, the output is incorrect, typically losing some content, but the parser can continue.
(mdoc, man, roff) The input file contains a byte that is not a printable ascii(7) character. The message mentions the character number. The offending byte is replaced with a question mark (‘?’). Consider editing the input file to replace the byte with an ASCII transliteration of the intended character.
(mdoc, man, roff) The first identifier on a request or macro line is neither recognized as a roff(7) request, nor as a user-defined macro, nor, respectively, as an mdoc(7) or man(7) macro. It may be mistyped or unsupported. The request or macro is discarded including its arguments.
(roff) A shift or return request occurs outside any macro definition and has no effect.
(roff) An input file attempted to run a shell command or to read or write an external file. Such attempts are denied for security reasons.
(mdoc, eqn) An It macro occurs outside any Bl list, or an eqn(7) above delimiter occurs outside any pile. It is discarded including its arguments.
(mdoc) A Ta macro occurs outside any Bl -column block. It is discarded including its arguments.
(mdoc, man, eqn, tbl, roff) Various syntax elements can only be used to explicitly close blocks that have previously been opened. An mdoc(7) block closing macro, a man(7) ME, RE or UE macro, an eqn(7) right delimiter or closing brace, or the end of an equation, table, or roff(7) conditional request is encountered but no matching block is open. The offending request or macro is discarded.
(man) The RE macro is invoked with an argument, but less than the specified number of RS blocks is open. The RE macro is discarded.
(mdoc, tbl) Various mdoc(7) macros as well as tables require explicit closing by dedicated macros. A block that doesn't support bad nesting ends before all of its children are properly closed. The open child nodes are closed implicitly.
(mdoc, man, eqn, tbl, roff) At the end of the document, an explicit mdoc(7) block, a man(7) next-line scope or MT, RS or UR block, an equation, table, or roff(7) conditional or ignore block is still open. The open block is closed implicitly.
(roff) Macro, string and register identifiers consist of printable, non-whitespace ASCII characters. Escape sequences and characters and strings expressed in terms of them cannot form part of a name. The first argument of an am, as, de, ds, nr, or rr request, or any argument of an rm request, or the name of a request or user defined macro being called, is terminated by an escape sequence. In the cases of as, ds, and nr, the request has no effect at all. In the cases of am, de, rr, and rm, what was parsed up to this point is used as the arguments to the request, and the rest of the input line is discarded including the escape sequence. When parsing for a request or a user-defined macro name to be called, only the escape sequence is discarded. The characters preceding it are used as the request or macro name, the characters following it are used as the arguments to the request or macro.
(roff) The escape sequence \$ occurs outside any macro definition and expands to the empty string.
(roff) The argument of the escape sequence \$ is not a digit; the escape sequence expands to the empty string.
(mdoc) For security reasons, the Bd macro does not support the -file argument. By requesting the inclusion of a sensitive file, a malicious document might otherwise trick a privileged user into inadvertently displaying the file on the screen, revealing the file content to bystanders. The argument is ignored including the file name following it.
(mdoc) A Bd block macro does not have any arguments. The block is discarded, and the block content is displayed in whatever mode was active before the block.
(mdoc) A Bl macro fails to specify the list type.
(roff) The argument of a ce request is not a number.
(roff) The first argument of a char request is neither a single ASCII character nor a single character escape sequence. The request is ignored including all its arguments.
(mdoc) The first call to Nm, or any call in the NAME section, lacks the required argument.
(mdoc) The Os macro is called without arguments, and the uname(3) system call failed. As a workaround, mandoc can be compiled with -DOSNAME="\"string\"".
(mdoc) An St macro has an unknown argument and is discarded.
(roff, eqn) An it request or an eqn(7) size or gsize statement has a non-numeric or negative argument or no argument at all. The invalid request or statement is ignored.
(roff) The argument of a shift request is larger than the number of arguments of the macro that is currently being executed. All macro arguments are deleted and \n(.$ is set to zero.
(roff) For security reasons, mandoc allows so file inclusion requests only with relative paths and only without ascending to any parent directory. By requesting the inclusion of a sensitive file, a malicious document might otherwise trick a privileged user into inadvertently displaying the file on the screen, revealing the file content to bystanders. mandoc only shows the path as it appears behind so.
(roff) Servicing a so request requires reading an external file, but the file could not be opened. mandoc only shows the path as it appears behind so.
(mdoc, man, eqn, roff) An mdoc(7) Bt, Ed, Ef, Ek, El, Lp, Pp, Re, Rs, or Ud macro, an It macro in a list that don't support item heads, a man(7) LP, P, or PP macro, an eqn(7) EQ or EN macro, or a roff(7) br, fi, or nf request or ‘..’ block closing request is invoked with at least one argument. All arguments are ignored.
(mdoc, man, roff) A macro or request is invoked with too many arguments:
  • , MT, PD, RS, UR, ft, or sp with more than one argument
  • with another argument after -split or -nosplit
  • with more than one argument or with a non-integer argument
  • or a request of the de family with more than two arguments
  • with more than three arguments
  • with more than five arguments
  • , Bk, or Bl with invalid arguments
The excess arguments are ignored.

(mdoc, man) Currently, mandoc cannot handle input files larger than its arbitrary size limit of 2^31 bytes (2 Gigabytes). Since useful manuals are always small, this is not a problem in practice. Parsing is aborted as soon as the condition is detected.
(roff) An ASCII control character supported by other roff(7) implementations but not by mandoc was found in an input file. It is replaced by a question mark.
(roff) An input file contains an escape sequence supported by GNU troff or Heirloom troff but not by mandoc, and it is likely that this will cause information loss or considerable misformatting.
(roff) An input file contains a roff(7) request supported by GNU troff or Heirloom troff but not by mandoc, and it is likely that this will cause information loss or considerable misformatting.
(eqn, tbl) The options line of a table defines equation delimiters. Any equation source code contained in the table will be printed unformatted.
(tbl) A table layout specification contains an ‘m’ modifier. The modifier is discarded.
(tbl, mdoc, man) A table contains an invocation of an mdoc(7) or man(7) macro or of an undefined macro. The macro is ignored, and its arguments are handled as if they were a text line.

apropos(1), man(1), eqn(7), man(7), mandoc_char(7), mdoc(7), roff(7), tbl(7)

The mandoc utility first appeared in OpenBSD 4.8. The option -I appeared in OpenBSD 5.2, and -aCcfhKklMSsw in OpenBSD 5.7.

The mandoc utility was written by Kristaps Dzonsons <> and is maintained by Ingo Schwarze <>.

February 23, 2019 OpenBSD-6.5