The document formatting system groff is used by the man page system to create formatted man pages (which are originally written in plain text with markup) from their source. It can also produce nicely formatted printed output.
This is not the place to talk about groff in general. However, you may have seen those nicely justified text files with a straight right-hand margin and wondered how they are produced. The same effect is seen in man pages, and this is no accident because you can use groff (which is used to format man pages) with the -Tascii option to produce text formatted in that way. It adds spaces to reduce the need for splitting words and hyphenation, and hyphenates reasonably sensibly. The output certainly looks nice, and if you are writing a file that will be read in text format (for example, a long README file to distribute with some software), it gives a nice impression to format it in the following way:
[email protected]:~ > groff -Tascii filename
Was this article helpful?