
EQN(7) BSD Miscellaneous Information Manual EQN(7)
NAME
eqn  eqn language reference for mandoc
DESCRIPTION
The eqn language is an equationformatting language. It is used within mdoc(7) and man(7)
UNIX manual pages. It describes the structure of an equation, not its mathematical meaning.
This manual describes the eqn language accepted by the mandoc(1) utility, which corresponds
to the Second Edition eqn specification (see SEE ALSO for references).
Equations within mdoc(7) or man(7) documents are enclosed by the standalone '.EQ' and '.EN'
tags. Equations are multiline blocks consisting of formulas and control statements.
EQUATION STRUCTURE
Each equation is bracketed by '.EQ' and '.EN' strings. Note: these are not the same as
roff(7) macros, and may only be invoked as '.EQ'.
The equation grammar is as follows, where quoted strings are casesensitive literals in the
input:
eqn : box  eqn box
box : text
 "{" eqn "}"
 "define" text text
 "ndefine" text text
 "tdefine" text text
 "gfont" text
 "gsize" text
 "set" text text
 "undef" text
 box pos box
 box mark
 "matrix" "{" [col "{" list "}" ]*
 pile "{" list "}"
 font box
 "size" text box
 "left" text eqn ["right" text]
col : "lcol"  "rcol"  "ccol"  "col"
text : [^space\"]+  \".*\"
pile : "lpile"  "cpile"  "rpile"  "pile"
pos : "over"  "sup"  "sub"  "to"  "from"
mark : "dot"  "dotdot"  "hat"  "tilde"  "vec"
 "dyad"  "bar"  "under"
font : "roman"  "italic"  "bold"  "fat"
list : eqn
 list "above" eqn
space : [\^~ \t]
Whitespace consists of the space, tab, circumflex, and tilde characters. If within a
quoted string, these space characters are retained. Quoted strings are also not scanned for
replacement definitions.
The following text terms are translated into a rendered glyph, if available: alpha, beta,
chi, delta, epsilon, eta, gamma, iota, kappa, lambda, mu, nu, omega, omicron, phi, pi, psi,
rho, sigma, tau, theta, upsilon, xi, zeta, DELTA, GAMMA, LAMBDA, OMEGA, PHI, PI, PSI, SIGMA,
THETA, UPSILON, XI, inter (intersection), union (union), prod (product), int (integral), sum
(summation), grad (gradient), del (vector differential), times (multiply), cdot (centre
dot), nothing (zerowidth space), approx (approximately equals), prime (prime), half (one
half), partial (partial differential), inf (infinity), >> (much greater), << (much less), >
(left arrow), < (right arrow), += (plusminus), != (not equal), == (equivalence), <= (less
thanequal), and >= (morethanequal).
The following control statements are available:
define Replace all occurrences of a key with a value. Its syntax is as follows:
define key cvalc
The first character of the value string, c, is used as the delimiter for the value
val. This allows for arbitrary enclosure of terms (not just quotes), such as
define foo 'bar baz'
define foo cbar bazc
It is an error to have an empty key or val. Note that a quoted key causes errors in
some eqn implementations and should not be considered portable. It is not expanded
for replacements. Definitions may refer to other definitions; these are evaluated
recursively when text replacement occurs and not when the definition is created.
Definitions can create arbitrary strings, for example, the following is a legal con
struction.
define foo 'define'
foo bar 'baz'
Selfreferencing definitions will raise an error. The ndefine statement is a syn
onym for define, while tdefine is discarded.
gfont Set the default font of subsequent output. Its syntax is as follows:
gfont font
In mandoc, this value is discarded.
gsize Set the default size of subsequent output. Its syntax is as follows:
gsize size
The size value should be an integer.
set Set an equation mode. In mandoc, both arguments are thrown away. Its syntax is as
follows:
set key val
The key and val are not expanded for replacements. This statement is a GNU exten
sion.
undef Unset a previouslydefined key. Its syntax is as follows:
define key
Once invoked, the definition for key is discarded. The key is not expanded for
replacements. This statement is a GNU extension.
COMPATIBILITY
This section documents the compatibility of mandoc eqn and the troff eqn implementation
(including GNU troff).
 The text string '\"' is interpreted as a literal quote in troff. In mandoc, this is
interpreted as a comment.
 In troff, The circumflex and tilde whitespace symbols map to fixedwidth spaces. In
mandoc, these characters are synonyms for the space character.
 The troff implementation of eqn allows for equation alignment with the mark and lineup
tokens. mandoc discards these tokens. The back n, fwd n, up n, and down n commands are
also ignored.
SEE ALSO
mandoc(1), man(7), mandoc_char(7), mdoc(7), roff(7)
Brian W. Kernighan and Lorinda L. Cherry, "System for Typesetting Mathematics",
Communications of the ACM, 18, 151157, March, 1975.
Brian W. Kernighan and Lorinda L. Cherry, Typesetting Mathematics, User's Guide, 1976.
Brian W. Kernighan and Lorinda L. Cherry, Typesetting Mathematics, User's Guide (Second
Edition), 1978.
HISTORY
The eqn utility, a preprocessor for troff, was originally written by Brian W. Kernighan and
Lorinda L. Cherry in 1975. The GNU reimplementation of eqn, part of the GNU troff package,
was released in 1989 by James Clark. The eqn component of mandoc(1) was added in 2011.
AUTHORS
This eqn reference was written by Kristaps Dzonsons, kristaps@bsd.lv.
BSD September 25, 2011 BSD 
