groff_font - format of groff device and font description files
The groff font format is roughly a superset of the ditroff font format. The font files
for device name are stored in a directory devname. There are two types of file: a device
description file called DESC and for each font F a font file called F. These are text
files; unlike the ditroff font format, there is no associated binary format.
DESC file format
The DESC file can contain the following types of line as shown below. Later entries in
the file override previous values.
Empty lines are ignored.
This line and everything following in the file are ignored. It is allowed for the
sake of backwards compatibility.
The default font family is fam.
fonts n F1 F2 F3 ... Fn
Fonts F1, ..., Fn are mounted in the font positions m+1, ..., m+n where m is the
number of styles. This command may extend over more than one line. A font name
of 0 causes no font to be mounted on the corresponding font position.
hor n The horizontal resolution is n machine units.
Needed for grohtml only. It specifies the program to generate PNG images from
PostScript input. Under GNU/Linux this is usually gs but under other systems
(notably cygwin) it might be set to another name.
The physical vertical dimension of the output medium in machine units. This isn't
used by troff itself but by output devices. Deprecated. Use papersize instead.
Select a paper size. Valid values for string are the ISO paper types A0-A7, B0-B7,
C0-C7, D0-D7, DL, and the US paper types letter, legal, tabloid, ledger, statement,
executive, com10, and monarch. Case is not significant for string if it holds pre-
defined paper types. Alternatively, string can be a file name (e.g. `/etc/paper-
size'); if the file can be opened, groff reads the first line and tests for the
above paper sizes. Finally, string can be a custom paper size in the format
length,width (no spaces before and after the comma). Both length and width must
have a unit appended; valid values are `i' for inches, `c' for centimeters, `p' for
points, and `P' for picas. Example: 12c,235p. An argument which starts with a
digit is always treated as a custom paper format. papersize sets both the vertical
and horizontal dimension of the output medium.
More than one argument can be specified; groff scans from left to right and uses
the first valid paper specification.
The physical horizontal dimension of the output medium in machine units. Depre-
cated. Use papersize instead. This isn't used by troff itself but by output
Make troff tell the driver the source file name being processed. This is achieved
by another tcommand: F filename.
Use program as the postprocessor.
Call program as a preprocessor.
Use program as the spooler program for printing. If omitted, the -l and -L options
of groff are ignored.
res n There are n machine units per inch.
sizes s1 s2 ... sn 0
This means that the device has fonts at s1, s2, ..., sn scaled points. The list of
sizes must be terminated by a 0. Each si can also be a range of sizes m-n. The
list can extend over more than one line.
The scale factor for point sizes. By default this has a value of 1. One scaled
point is equal to one point/n. The arguments to the unitwidth and sizes commands
are given in scaled points.
styles S1 S2 ... Sm
The first m font positions are associated with styles S1, ..., Sm.
This means that the postprocessor can handle the t and u output commands.
Indicate that the output device supports the complete Unicode repertoire. Useful
only for devices which produce character entities instead of glyphs.
If unicode is present, no charset section is required in the font description files
since the Unicode handling built into groff is used. However, if there are entries
in a charset section, they either override the default mappings for those particu-
lar characters or add new mappings (normally for composite characters).
This is used for -Tutf8, -Thtml, and -Txhtml.
Quantities in the font files are given in machine units for fonts whose point size
is n scaled points.
Make the font handling module always return unscaled glyph widths. Needed for the
This command indicates that troff should encode named glyphs inside special com-
vert n The vertical resolution is n machine units.
The res, unitwidth, fonts, and sizes lines are compulsory. Not all commands in the DESC
file are used by troff itself; some of the keywords (or even additional ones) are used by
postprocessors to store arbitrary information about the device.
Here a list of obsolete keywords which are recognized by groff but completely ignored:
spare1, spare2, biggestfont.
Font file format
A font file has two sections; empty lines are ignored in both of them.
The first section is a sequence of lines each containing a sequence of blank delimited
words; the first word in the line is a key, and subsequent words give a value for that
ligatures lig1 lig2 ... lign 
Glyphs lig1, lig2, ..., lign are ligatures; possible ligatures are ff, fi, fl, ffi,
and ffl. For backwards compatibility, the list of ligatures may be terminated with
a 0. The list of ligatures may not extend over more than one line.
name F The name of the font is F.
The glyphs of the font have a slant of n degrees. (Positive means forward.)
The normal width of a space is n.
The font is special; this means that when a glyph is requested that is not present
in the current font, it is searched for in any special fonts that are mounted.
Other commands are ignored by troff but may be used by postprocessors to store arbitrary
information about the font in the font file.
The first section can contain comments which start with the # character and extend to the
end of a line.
The second section contains one or two subsections. It must contain a charset subsection
and it may also contain a kernpairs subsection. These subsections can appear in any
order. Each subsection starts with a word on a line by itself.
The word charset starts the charset subsection. The charset line is followed by a
sequence of lines. Each line gives information for one glyph. A line comprises a number
of fields separated by blanks or tabs. The format is
name metrics type code [entity_name] [-- comment]
name identifies the glyph: if name is a single glyph c then it corresponds to the groff
input character c; if it is of the form \c where c is a single character, then it corre-
sponds to the special character \[c]; otherwise it corresponds to the groff input charac-
ter \[name]. If it is exactly two characters xx it can be entered as \(xx. Note that
single-letter special characters can't be accessed as \c; the only exception is `\-' which
is identical to `\[-]'. The name --- is special and indicates that the glyph is unnamed;
such glyphs can only be used by means of the \N escape sequence in troff.
The type field gives the glyph type:
1 means the glyph has a descender, for example, `p';
2 means the glyph has an ascender, for example, `b';
3 means the glyph has both an ascender and a descender, for example, `('.
The code field gives the code which the postprocessor uses to print the glyph. The glyph
can also be input to groff using this code by means of the \N escape sequence. The code
can be any integer. If it starts with a 0 it is interpreted as octal; if it starts with
0x or 0X it is interpreted as hexadecimal. Note, however, that the \N escape sequence
only accepts a decimal integer.
The entity_name field gives an ASCII string identifying the glyph which the postprocessor
uses to print that glyph. This field is optional and is currently used by grops to build
sub-encoding arrays for PS fonts containing more than 256 glyphs. (It has also been used
for grohtml's entity names but for efficiency reasons this data is now compiled directly
Anything on the line after the encoding field or `--' are ignored.
The metrics field has the form (in one line; it is broken here for the sake of readabil-
There must not be any spaces between these subfields. Missing subfields are assumed to
be 0. The subfields are all decimal integers. Since there is no associated binary for-
mat, these values are not required to fit into a variable of type char as they are in
ditroff. The width subfields gives the width of the glyph. The height subfield gives the
height of the glyph (upwards is positive); if a glyph does not extend above the baseline,
it should be given a zero height, rather than a negative height. The depth subfield gives
the depth of the glyph, that is, the distance below the lowest point below the baseline to
which the glyph extends (downwards is positive); if a glyph does not extend below above
the baseline, it should be given a zero depth, rather than a negative depth. The italic-
correction subfield gives the amount of space that should be added after the glyph when it
is immediately to be followed by a glyph from a roman font. The left-italic-correction
subfield gives the amount of space that should be added before the glyph when it is imme-
diately to be preceded by a glyph from a roman font. The subscript-correction gives the
amount of space that should be added after a glyph before adding a subscript. This should
be less than the italic correction.
A line in the charset section can also have the format
This indicates that name is just another name for the glyph mentioned in the preceding
The word kernpairs starts the kernpairs section. This contains a sequence of lines of the
c1 c2 n
This means that when glyph c1 appears next to glyph c2 the space between them should be
increased by n. Most entries in kernpairs section have a negative value for n.
/usr/share/groff/1.22.2/font/devname/DESC Device description file for device name.
/usr/share/groff/1.22.2/font/devname/F Font file for font F of device name.
Groff Version 1.22.2 7 February 2013 GROFF_FONT(5)