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ronn-format - Man Page

manual authoring format based on Markdown


name(1) -- short, single-sentence description


`name` [<optional>...] <flags>


A normal paragraph. This can span multiple lines and is terminated with two
or more line endings -- just like Markdown.

Inline markup for `code`, `user input`, and **strong** are displayed
boldface; <variable>, _emphasis_, *emphasis*, are displayed in italics
(HTML) or underline (roff).

Manual references like sh(1), markdown(7), roff(7), etc. are hyperlinked in
HTML output.

Link to sections like [STANDARDS][], [SEE ALSO][], or [WITH A DIFFERENT LINK

Definition lists:

  * `-a`, `--argument`=[<value>]:
    One or more paragraphs describing the argument.

  * You can put whatever you *want* here, really:
    Nesting and paragraph spacing are respected.

Frequently used sections:



The ronn(1) command converts text in a simple markup to Unix manual pages. The syntax includes all Markdown formatting features, plus conventions for expressing the structure and various notations present in standard Unix manpages.

Not all roff(7) typesetting features can be expressed using ronn syntax.

Manpage Title

Manpages have a name, section, and a one-line description. Files must start with a level one heading defining these attributes:

ls(1) -- list directory contents

Indicates that the manpage is named ls in manual section 1 ("user commands").

Section Headings

Man section headings are expressed with markdown level two headings. There are two syntaxes for level two headings.

Hash prefix syntax:


Dash underline syntax:


Section headings should be all uppercase and may not contain inline markup.

Inline Markup

Manpages have a limited set of text formatting capabilities. There's basically boldface and italics (often displayed using underline). Ronn uses the following bits of markdown(7) to accomplish this:

\`backticks\` (markdown compatible)

Code, flags, commands, and noun-like things; typically displayed in boldface. All text included within backticks is displayed literally; other inline markup is not processed. HTML output: <code>.

**double-stars** (markdown compatible)

Also displayed in boldface. Unlike backticks, inline markup is processed. HTML output: <strong>.

<anglequotes> (non-compatible markdown extension)

User-specified arguments, variables, or user input. Typically displayed with underline in roff output. HTML output: <var/>.

_underbars_ (markdown compatible)

Emphasis. May be used for literal option values. Typically displayed with underline in roff output. HTML output: <em>.

Here is grep(1)'s Description section represented in ronn:

`Grep` searches the named input <FILE> (or standard input if
no files are named, or the file name `-` is given) for lines
containing a match to the given <PATTERN>. By default, `grep`
prints the matching lines.

Definition Lists

The definition list syntax is compatible with markdown's unordered list syntax but requires that the first line of each list item be terminated with a colon ":" character. The contents of the first line is the term; subsequent lines may be comprised of multiple paragraphs, code blocks, standard lists, and nested definition lists.

An example definition list, taken from BSD test(1)'s Description section:

 The following primaries are used to construct expressions:

   * `-b` <file>:
     True if <file> exists and is a block special file.

   * `-c` <file>:
     True if _file_ exists and is a character special file.

   * `-d` <file>:
     True if file exists and is a directory.

See Also

ronn(1), markdown(7), roff(7)

Referenced By


January 2024 Ronn-NG 0.10.1 Ronn Manual