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grops - PostScript driver for groff


grops [-glmv] [-b n] [-c n] [-F dir] [-I dir] [-p papersize] [-P prologue] [-w n] [files


grops translates the output of GNU troff to PostScript. Normally grops should be invoked
by using the groff command with a -Tps option. (Actually, this is the default for groff.)
If no files are given, grops reads the standard input. A filename of - also causes grops
to read the standard input. PostScript output is written to the standard output. When
grops is run by groff options can be passed to grops using groff's -P option.

Note that grops doesn't produce a valid document structure (conforming to the Document
Structuring Convention) if called with multiple file arguments. To print such
concatenated output it is necessary to deactivate DSC handling in the printing program or
previewer. See section FONT INSTALLATION below for a guide how to install fonts for


It is possible to have whitespace between a command line option and its parameter.

-bn Provide workarounds for older printers, broken spoolers, and previewers. Normally
grops produces output at PostScript LanguageLevel 2 that conforms to the Document
Structuring Conventions version 3.0. Some older printers, spoolers, and previewers
can't handle such output. The value of n controls what grops does to make its
output acceptable to such programs. A value of 0 causes grops not to employ any

Add 1 if no %%BeginDocumentSetup and %%EndDocumentSetup comments should be
generated; this is needed for early versions of TranScript that get confused by
anything between the %%EndProlog comment and the first %%Page comment.

Add 2 if lines in included files beginning with %! should be stripped out; this is
needed for Sun's pageview previewer.

Add 4 if %%Page, %%Trailer and %%EndProlog comments should be stripped out of
included files; this is needed for spoolers that don't understand the %%Begin‐
Document and %%EndDocument comments.

Add 8 if the first line of the PostScript output should be %!PS-Adobe-2.0 rather
than %!PS-Adobe-3.0; this is needed when using Sun's Newsprint with a printer that
requires page reversal.

Add 16 if no media size information should be included in the document (this is,
neither use %%DocumentMedia nor the setpagedevice PostScript command). This was
the behaviour of groff version 1.18.1 and earlier; it is needed for older printers
which don't understand PostScript LanguageLevel 2. It is also necessary if the
output is further processed to get an encapsulated PS (EPS) file – see below.

The default value can be specified by a

broken n

command in the DESC file. Otherwise the default value is 0.

-cn Print n copies of each page.

-Fdir Prepend directory dir/devname to the search path for prologue, font, and device
description files; name is the name of the device, usually ps.

-g Guess the page length. This generates PostScript code that guesses the page
length. The guess is correct only if the imageable area is vertically centered on
the page. This option allows you to generate documents that can be printed both on
letter (8.5×11) paper and on A4 paper without change.

-Idir This option may be used to add a directory to the search path for files on the
command line and files named in \X'ps: import' and \X'ps: file' escapes. The
search path is initialized with the current directory. This option may be
specified more than once; the directories are then searched in the order specified
(but before the current directory). If you want to make the current directory be
read before other directories, add -I. at the appropriate place.

No directory search is performed for files with an absolute file name.

-l Print the document in landscape format.

-m Turn manual feed on for the document.

Set physical dimension of output medium. This overrides the papersize,
paperlength, and paperwidth commands in the DESC file; it accepts the same
arguments as the papersize command. See groff_font (5) for details.

Use the file prologue-file (in the font path) as the prologue instead of the
default prologue file prologue. This option overrides the environment variable

-wn Lines should be drawn using a thickness of n thousandths of an em. If this option
is not given, the line thickness defaults to 0.04 em.

-v Print the version number.


The input to grops must be in the format output by troff(1). This is described in

In addition, the device and font description files for the device used must meet certain
requirements: The resolution must be an integer multiple of 72 times the sizescale. The
ps device uses a resolution of 72000 and a sizescale of 1000.

The device description file must contain a valid paper size; see groff_font(5) for more

Each font description file must contain a command

internalname psname

which says that the PostScript name of the font is psname. It may also contain a command

encoding enc_file

which says that the PostScript font should be reencoded using the encoding described in
enc_file; this file should consist of a sequence of lines of the form:

pschar code

where pschar is the PostScript name of the character, and code is its position in the
encoding expressed as a decimal integer; valid values are in the range 0 to 255. Lines
starting with # and blank lines are ignored. The code for each character given in the
font file must correspond to the code for the character in encoding file, or to the code
in the default encoding for the font if the PostScript font is not to be reencoded. This
code can be used with the \N escape sequence in troff to select the character, even if the
character does not have a groff name. Every character in the font file must exist in the
PostScript font, and the widths given in the font file must match the widths used in the
PostScript font. grops assumes that a character with a groff name of space is blank
(makes no marks on the page); it can make use of such a character to generate more
efficient and compact PostScript output.

Note that grops is able to display all glyphs in a PostScript font, not only 256.
enc_file (or the default encoding if no encoding file specified) just defines the order of
glyphs for the first 256 characters; all other glyphs are accessed with additional
encoding vectors which grops produces on the fly.

grops can automatically include the downloadable fonts necessary to print the document.
Such fonts must be in PFA format. Use pfbtops(1) to convert a Type 1 font in PFB format.
Any downloadable fonts which should, when required, be included by grops must be listed in
the file /usr/share/groff/1.22.3/font/devps/download; this should consist of lines of the

font filename

where font is the PostScript name of the font, and filename is the name of the file
containing the font; lines beginning with # and blank lines are ignored; fields may be
separated by tabs or spaces; filename is searched for using the same mechanism that is
used for groff font metric files. The download file itself is also searched for using
this mechanism; currently, only the first found file in the font path is used.

If the file containing a downloadable font or imported document conforms to the Adobe
Document Structuring Conventions, then grops interprets any comments in the files
sufficiently to ensure that its own output is conforming. It also supplies any needed
font resources that are listed in the download file as well as any needed file resources.
It is also able to handle inter-resource dependencies. For example, suppose that you have
a downloadable font called Garamond, and also a downloadable font called Garamond-Outline
which depends on Garamond (typically it would be defined to copy Garamond's font
dictionary, and change the PaintType), then it is necessary for Garamond to appear before
Garamond-Outline in the PostScript document. grops handles this automatically provided
that the downloadable font file for Garamond-Outline indicates its dependence on Garamond
by means of the Document Structuring Conventions, for example by beginning with the
following lines

%!PS-Adobe-3.0 Resource-Font
%%DocumentNeededResources: font Garamond
%%IncludeResource: font Garamond

In this case both Garamond and Garamond-Outline would need to be listed in the download
file. A downloadable font should not include its own name in a %%DocumentSupplied‐
Resources comment.

grops does not interpret %%DocumentFonts comments. The %%DocumentNeededResources,
%%DocumentSuppliedResources, %%IncludeResource, %%BeginResource, and %%EndResource
comments (or possibly the old %%DocumentNeededFonts, %%DocumentSuppliedFonts, %%Include‐
Font, %%BeginFont, and %%EndFont comments) should be used.

In the default setup there are styles called R, I, B, and BI mounted at font positions 1
to 4. The fonts are grouped into families A, BM, C, H, HN, N, P, and T having members in
each of these styles:

AR AvantGarde-Book
AI AvantGarde-BookOblique
AB AvantGarde-Demi
ABI AvantGarde-DemiOblique
BMR Bookman-Light
BMI Bookman-LightItalic
BMB Bookman-Demi
BMBI Bookman-DemiItalic
CR Courier
CI Courier-Oblique
CB Courier-Bold
CBI Courier-BoldOblique
HR Helvetica
HI Helvetica-Oblique
HB Helvetica-Bold
HBI Helvetica-BoldOblique
HNR Helvetica-Narrow
HNI Helvetica-Narrow-Oblique
HNB Helvetica-Narrow-Bold
HNBI Helvetica-Narrow-BoldOblique
NR NewCenturySchlbk-Roman
NI NewCenturySchlbk-Italic
NB NewCenturySchlbk-Bold
NBI NewCenturySchlbk-BoldItalic
PR Palatino-Roman
PI Palatino-Italic
PB Palatino-Bold
PBI Palatino-BoldItalic
TR Times-Roman
TI Times-Italic
TB Times-Bold
TBI Times-BoldItalic

There is also the following font which is not a member of a family:

ZCMI ZapfChancery-MediumItalic

There are also some special fonts called S for the PS Symbol font, and SS, containing
slanted lowercase Greek letters taken from PS Symbol. Zapf Dingbats is available as ZD,
and a reversed version of ZapfDingbats (with symbols pointing in the opposite direction)
is available as ZDR; most characters in these fonts are unnamed and must be accessed using

The default color for \m and \M is black; for colors defined in the ‘rgb’ color space
setrgbcolor is used, for ‘cmy’ and ‘cmyk’ setcmykcolor, and for ‘gray’ setgray. Note that
setcmykcolor is a PostScript LanguageLevel 2 command and thus not available on some older

grops understands various X commands produced using the \X escape sequence; grops only
interprets commands that begin with a ps: tag.

\X'ps: exec code'
This executes the arbitrary PostScript commands in code. The PostScript
currentpoint is set to the position of the \X command before executing code. The
origin is at the top left corner of the page, and y coordinates increase down the
page. A procedure u is defined that converts groff units to the coordinate system
in effect (provided the user doesn't change the scale). For example,

.nr x 1i
\X'ps: exec \nx u 0 rlineto stroke'

draws a horizontal line one inch long. code may make changes to the graphics
state, but any changes persist only to the end of the page. A dictionary
containing the definitions specified by the def and mdef is on top of the
dictionary stack. If your code adds definitions to this dictionary, you should
allocate space for them using \X'ps mdef n'. Any definitions persist only until
the end of the page. If you use the \Y escape sequence with an argument that names
a macro, code can extend over multiple lines. For example,

.nr x 1i
.de y
ps: exec
\nx u 0 rlineto

is another way to draw a horizontal line one inch long. Note the single backslash
before ‘nx’ – the only reason to use a number register while defining the macro ‘y’
is to convert a user-specified dimension ‘1i’ to internal groff units which are in
turn converted to PS units with the u procedure.

grops wraps user-specified PostScript code into a dictionary, nothing more. In
particular, it doesn't start and end the inserted code with save and restore,
respectively. This must be supplied by the user, if necessary.

\X'ps: file name'
This is the same as the exec command except that the PostScript code is read from
file name.

\X'ps: def code'
Place a PostScript definition contained in code in the prologue. There should be
at most one definition per \X command. Long definitions can be split over several
\X commands; all the code arguments are simply joined together separated by
newlines. The definitions are placed in a dictionary which is automatically pushed
on the dictionary stack when an exec command is executed. If you use the \Y escape
sequence with an argument that names a macro, code can extend over multiple lines.

\X'ps: mdef n code'
Like def, except that code may contain up to n definitions. grops needs to know
how many definitions code contains so that it can create an appropriately sized
PostScript dictionary to contain them.

\X'ps: import file llx lly urx ury width [ height ]'
Import a PostScript graphic from file. The arguments llx, lly, urx, and ury give
the bounding box of the graphic in the default PostScript coordinate system; they
should all be integers; llx and lly are the x and y coordinates of the lower left
corner of the graphic; urx and ury are the x and y coordinates of the upper right
corner of the graphic; width and height are integers that give the desired width
and height in groff units of the graphic.

The graphic is scaled so that it has this width and height and translated so that
the lower left corner of the graphic is located at the position associated with \X
command. If the height argument is omitted it is scaled uniformly in the x and
y directions so that it has the specified width.

Note that the contents of the \X command are not interpreted by troff; so vertical
space for the graphic is not automatically added, and the width and height
arguments are not allowed to have attached scaling indicators.

If the PostScript file complies with the Adobe Document Structuring Conventions and
contains a %%BoundingBox comment, then the bounding box can be automatically
extracted from within groff by using the psbb request.

See groff_tmac(5) for a description of the PSPIC macro which provides a convenient
high-level interface for inclusion of PostScript graphics.

\X'ps: invis'
\X'ps: endinvis'
No output is generated for text and drawing commands that are bracketed with these
\X commands. These commands are intended for use when output from troff is
previewed before being processed with grops; if the previewer is unable to display
certain characters or other constructs, then other substitute characters or
constructs can be used for previewing by bracketing them with these \X commands.

For example, gxditview is not able to display a proper \(em character because the
standard X11 fonts do not provide it; this problem can be overcome by executing the
following request

.char \(em \X'ps: invis'\
\Z'\v'-.25m'\h'.05m'\D'l .9m 0'\h'.05m''\
\X'ps: endinvis'\(em

In this case, gxditview is unable to display the \(em character and draws the line,
whereas grops prints the \(em character and ignores the line (this code is already
in file Xps.tmac which is loaded if a document intended for grops is previewed with

If a PostScript procedure BPhook has been defined via a ‘ps: def’ or ‘ps: mdef’ device
command, it is executed at the beginning of every page (before anything is drawn or
written by groff). For example, to underlay the page contents with the word ‘DRAFT’ in
light gray, you might use

.de XX
ps: def
{ gsave .9 setgray clippath pathbbox exch 2 copy
.5 mul exch .5 mul translate atan rotate pop pop
/NewCenturySchlbk-Roman findfont 200 scalefont setfont
(DRAFT) dup stringwidth pop -.5 mul -70 moveto show
grestore }
.devicem XX

Or, to cause lines and polygons to be drawn with square linecaps and mitered linejoins
instead of the round linecaps and linejoins normally used by grops, use

.de XX
ps: def
/BPhook { 2 setlinecap 0 setlinejoin } def
.devicem XX

(square linecaps, as opposed to butt linecaps (0 setlinecap), give true corners in boxed
tables even though the lines are drawn unconnected).

Encapsulated PostScript
grops itself doesn't emit bounding box information. With the help of Ghostscript the
following simple script, groff2eps, produces an encapsulated PS file.

#! /bin/sh
groff -P-b16 $1 > $1.ps
gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=bbox -- $1.ps 2> $1.bbox
sed -e "/^%%Orientation/r $1.bbox" \
-e "/^%!PS-Adobe-3.0/s/$/ EPSF-3.0/" $1.ps > $1.eps
rm $1.ps $1.bbox

Just say

groff2eps foo

to convert file foo to foo.eps.

TrueType and other font formats
TrueType fonts can be used with grops if converted first to Type 42 format, a special
PostScript wrapper equivalent to the PFA format mentioned in pfbtops(1). There are
several different methods to generate a type42 wrapper and most of them involve the use of
a PostScript interpreter such as Ghostscript – see gs(1).

Yet, the easiest method involves the use of the application ttftot42(1). This program
uses freetype(3) (version 1.3.1) to generate type42 font wrappers and well-formed AFM
files that can be fed to the afmtodit(1) script to create appropriate metric files. The
resulting font wrappers should be added to the download file. ttftot42 source code can be
downloaded from ftp://www.giga.or.at/pub/nih/ttftot42/ftp://www.giga.or.at/pub/nih/

Another solution for creating type42 wrappers is to use FontForge, available from http://
fontforge.sf.net ⟨http://fontforge.sf.net⟩. This font editor can convert most outline
font formats.


This section gives a summary of the above explanations; it can serve as a step-by-step
font installation guide for grops.

· Convert your font to something groff understands. This is either a PostScript Type 1
font in PFA format or a PostScript Type 42 font, together with an AFM file.

The very first characters in a PFA file look like this:


A PFB file has this also in the first line, but the string is preceded with some
binary bytes.

The very first characters in a Type 42 font file look like this:


This is a wrapper format for TrueType fonts. Old PS printers might not support it
(this is, they don't have a built-in TrueType font interpreter).

If your font is in PFB format (such fonts normally have ‘.pfb’ as the file extension),
you might use groff's pfbtops(1) program to convert it to PFA. For TrueType fonts,
try ttftot42 or fontforge. For all other font formats use fontforge which can convert
most outline font formats.

· Convert the AFM file to a groff font description file with the afmtodit(1) program.
An example call is

afmtodit Foo-Bar-Bold.afm textmap FBB

which converts the metric file ‘Foo-Bar-Bold.afm’ to the groff font ‘FBB’. If you
have a font family which comes with normal, bold, italic, and bold italic faces, it is
recommended to use the letters R, B, I, and BI, respectively, as postfixes in the
groff font names to make groff's ‘.fam’ request work. An example is groff's built-in
Times-Roman font: The font family name is T, and the groff font names are TR, TB, TI,
and TBI.

· Install both the groff font description files and the fonts in a ‘devps’ subdirectory
of the font path which groff finds. See the ENVIRONMENT section in the troff(1) man
page which lists the actual value of the font path. Note that groff doesn't use the
AFM files (but it is a good idea to store them anyway).

· Register all fonts which must be downloaded to the printer in the ‘devps/download’
file. Only the first occurrence of this file in the font path is read. This means
that you should copy the default ‘download’ file to the first directory in your font
path and add your fonts there. To continue the above example we assume that the PS
font name for Foo-Bar-Bold.pfa is ‘XY-Foo-Bar-Bold’ (the PS font name is stored in the
internalname field in the ‘FBB’ file), thus the following line should be added to

XY-Foo-Bar-Bold Foo-Bar-Bold.pfa


groff versions 1.19.2 and earlier contain a slightly different set of the 35 Adobe core
fonts; the difference is mainly the lack of the ‘Euro’ glyph and a reduced set of kerning
pairs. For backwards compatibility, these old fonts are installed also in the



To use them, make sure that grops finds the fonts before the default system fonts (with
the same names): Either add command line option -F to grops

groff -Tps -P-F -P/usr/share/groff/1.22.3/oldfont ...

or add the directory to groff's font path environment variable



If this is set to foo, then grops uses the file foo (in the font path) instead of
the default prologue file prologue. The option -P overrides this environment

A list of directories in which to search for the devname directory in addition to
the default ones. See troff(1) and groff_font(5) for more details.

A timestamp (expressed as seconds since the Unix epoch) to use as the creation
timestamp in place of the current time.

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