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GNU macro processor

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1.5 Using this manual

This manual contains a number of examples of m4 input and output, and a simple notation is used to distinguish input, output and error messages from m4. Examples are set out from the normal text, and shown in a fixed width font, like this

This is an example of an example!

To distinguish input from output, all output from m4 is prefixed by the string `=>', and all error messages by the string `error-->'. Thus

Example of input line
=>Output line from m4
error-->and an error message

As each of the predefined macros in m4 is described, a prototype call of the macro will be shown, giving descriptive names to the arguments, e.g.,

regexp(string, regexp, opt replacement)

All macro arguments in m4 are strings, but some are given special interpretation, e.g., as numbers, filenames, regular expressions, etc.

The `opt' before the third argument shows that this argument is optional--if it is left out, it is taken to be the empty string. An ellipsis (`...') last in the argument list indicates that any number of arguments may follow.

This document consistently writes and uses builtin, without an hyphen, as if it were an English word. This is how the builtin primitive is spelled within m4.

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  Copyright 2003   by The Free Software Foundation     Updated Jun 2003