groff_char - groff character names
This manual page lists the standard
The output characters in this document will look different depending
on which output device was chosen (with option
program or the roff formatter).
Only the characters that are available for the device that
is being used to print or view this manual page will be
In the actual version,
provides only 8-bit characters for direct input and named characters
for further glyphs.
On ASCII platforms, character codes in the range 0 to 127 (decimal)
represent the usual 7-bit ASCII characters, while codes between 127
and 255 are interpreted as the corresponding characters in the
On EBCDIC platforms, only the code page
is supported (which contains the same characters as Latin-1).
It is rather straightforward (for the experienced user) to set up other
8bit encodings like
will use Unicode in the next major version, no additional encodings
All roff systems provide the concept of named characters.
In traditional roff systems, only names of length 2 were used, while
groff also provides support for longer names.
It is strongly suggested that only named characters are used for all
characters outside of the 7-bit ASCII range.
Some of the predefined groff escape sequences (with names of length 1)
also produce single characters; these exist for historical reasons or
are printable versions of syntactical characters.
In groff, all of these different types of characters can be tested
positively with the
In this section, the characters in groff are specified in tabular
The meaning of the columns is as follows.
- shows how the character is printed for the current device; although
this can have quite a different shape on other devices, it always
represents the same glyph.
- Input name
- specifies how the character is input either directly by a key on the
keyboard, or by a groff escape sequence.
- Input code
- applies to characters which can be input with a single character, and
gives the ISO Latin-1 decimal code of that input character.
Note that this code is equivalent to the lowest 256 Unicode characters;
(including 7-bit ASCII in the range 0 to 127).
- PostScript name
- gives the usual PostScript name of the output character.
These are the basic characters having 7-bit ASCII code values.
These are identical to the first 127 characters of the character
standards ISO-8859-1 (Latin-1) and Unicode (range
C0 Controls and Basic Latin).
To save space, not every code has an entry in the following because
the following code ranges are well known.
- Control characters (print as themselves).
- Decimal digits 0 to 9 (print as themselves).
- Upper case letters A-Z (print as themselves).
- Lower case letters a-z (print as themselves).
- Control character (prints as itself).
The remaining ranges constitute the printable, non-alphanumeric ASCII
characters; only these are listed below.
As can be seen in the table below, most of these characters print as
themselves; the only exceptions are the following characters:
- the ISO Latin-1 `Grave Accent' (code 96) prints as `, a left single
- the ISO Latin-1 `Apostrophe' (code 39) prints as ', a right single
quotation mark; the corresponding ISO Latin-1 characters can be obtained
- the ISO Latin-1 `Hyphen, Minus Sign' (code 45) prints as a hyphen; a
minus sign can be obtained with
- the ISO Latin-1 `Tilde' (code 126); a larger glyph can be obtained
- the ISO Latin-1 `Circumflex Accent' (code 94); a larger glyph can be
Latin-1 Special Characters
These characters have character codes between 128 and 255.
They are interpreted as characters according to the
code set, being identical to the Unicode range
C1 Controls and Latin-1 Supplement.
- the C1 Controls; they print as themselves, but the effect is mostly
- the ISO Latin-1
is mapped to
the escaped space character.
- the soft hyphen control character (prints as itself).
groff never use this character for output (thus it is omitted in the table
below); the input character 173 is mapped onto
The remaining ranges (161-172, 174-255), called the
in Unicode, are printable characters that print as themselves.
Although they can be specified directly with the keyboard on systems
with a Latin-1 code page, it is better to use their named character
equivalent; see next section.
The named character idiom is the standard way to specify special
characters in roff systems.
They can be embedded into the document text by using escape sequences.
describes how these escape sequences look.
The character names can consist of quite arbitrary characters from the
ASCII or Latin-1 code set, not only alphanumeric characters.
Here some examples:
- named character having the name
which consists of a single character (length 1).
- named character having the 2-character name
- named character having the name
(having length 1, 2, 3, ...).
In groff, each 8bit input character can also referred to by the construct
is the decimal code of the character, a number between 0 and 255
without leading zeros.
They are mapped onto glyph entities using the
Moreover, new character names can be created by the
Copyright © 1989-2000, 2001, 2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This document is distributed under the terms of the FDL (GNU Free
Documentation License) version 1.1 or later.
You should have received a copy of the FDL on your system, it is also
available on-line at the
This document is part of
the GNU roff distribution.
It was written by
with additions by
- the GNU roff formatter.
- a short reference of the groff formatting language.
An extension to the troff character set for Europe,
E.G. Keizer, K.J. Simonsen, J. Akkerhuis; EUUG Newsletter, Volume 9,
No. 2, Summer 1989