ms − text formatting macros


nroff -ms [options] filename...

troff -ms [options] filename...


This package of nroff(1) and troff(1) macro definitions provides a formatting facility for various styles of articles, theses, and books. When producing 2-column output on a terminal or lineprinter, or when reverse line motions are needed, filter the output through col(1). All external -ms macros are defined below.

Note: this -ms macro package is an extended version written at Berkeley and is a superset of the standard -ms macro packages as supplied by Bell Labs. Some of the Bell Labs macros have been removed; for instance, it is assumed that the user has little interest in producing headers stating that the memo was generated at Whippany Labs.

Many nroff and troff requests are unsafe in conjunction with this package. However, the first four requests below may be used with impunity after initialization, and the last two may be used even before initialization:


begin new page


break output line

.sp n

insert n spacing lines

.ce n

center next n lines

.ls n

line spacing: n=1 single, n=2 double space


no alignment of right margin

Font and point size changes with \f and \s are also allowed; for example, \fIword\fR will italicize word. Output of the tbl(1), eqn(1) and refer(1) preprocessors for equations, tables, and references is acceptable as input.



Formatting distances can be controlled in -ms by means of built-in number registers. For example, this sets the line length to 6.5 inches:

.nr  LL  6.5i

Here is a table of number registers and their default values:

When resetting these values, make sure to specify the appropriate units. Setting the line length to 7, for example, will result in output with one character per line. Setting FF to 1 suppresses footnote superscripting; setting it to 2 also suppresses indentation of the first line; and setting it to 3 produces an .IP-like footnote paragraph.

Here is a list of string registers available in -ms; they may be used anywhere in the text:

When using the extended accent mark definitions available with .AM, these strings should come after, rather than before, the letter to be accented.




col(1), eqn(1), nroff(1), refer(1), tbl(1), troff(1)


Floating keeps and regular keeps are diverted to the same space, so they cannot be mixed together with predictable results.