Skip site navigation (1)Skip section navigation (2)

FreeBSD Man Pages

Man Page or Keyword Search:
Man Architecture
Apropos Keyword Search (all sections) Output format
home | help
FMT(1)                  FreeBSD General Commands Manual                 FMT(1)

     fmt - simple text formatter

     fmt [-cmnps] [-d chars] [-l num] [-t num]
         [goal [maximum] | -width | -w width] [file ...]

     fmt is a simple text formatter which reads the concatenation of input
     files (or standard input if none are given) and produces on standard
     output a version of its input with lines as close to the goal length as
     possible without exceeding the maximum.  The goal length defaults to 65
     and the maximum to 10 more than the goal length.  Alternatively, a single
     width parameter can be specified either by prepending a hyphen to it or
     by using -w.  For example, ``fmt -w 72'', ``fmt -72'', and ``fmt 72 72''
     all produce identical output.  The spacing at the beginning of the input
     lines is preserved in the output, as are blank lines and interword
     spacing.  Lines are joined or split only at white space; that is, words
     are never joined or hyphenated.

     The options are as follows:

     -c      Center the text, line by line.  In this case, most of the other
             options are ignored; no splitting or joining of lines is done.

     -m      Try to format mail header lines contained in the input sensibly.

     -n      Format lines beginning with a `.' (dot) character.  Normally, fmt
             does not fill these lines, for compatibility with nroff(1).

     -p      Allow indented paragraphs.  Without the -p flag, any change in
             the amount of whitespace at the start of a line results in a new
             paragraph being begun.

     -s      Collapse whitespace inside lines, so that multiple whitespace
             characters are turned into a single space.  (Or, at the end of a
             sentence, a double space.)

     -d chars
             Treat the chars (and no others) as sentence-ending characters.
             By default the sentence-ending characters are full stop (`.'),
             question mark (`?') and exclamation mark (`!').  Remember that
             some characters may need to be escaped to protect them from your

     -l number
             Replace multiple spaces with tabs at the start of each output
             line, if possible.  Each number spaces will be replaced with one
             tab.  The default is 8.  If number is 0, spaces are preserved.

     -t number
             Assume that the input files' tabs assume number spaces per tab
             stop.  The default is 8.

     fmt is meant to format mail messages prior to sending, but may also be
     useful for other simple tasks.  For instance, within visual mode of the
     ex(1) editor (e.g., vi(1)) the command


     will reformat a paragraph, evening the lines.

     mail(1), nroff(1)

     The fmt command appeared in 3BSD.

     The version described herein is a complete rewrite and appeared in
     FreeBSD 4.4.

     Kurt Shoens
     Liz Allen (added goal length concept)
     Gareth McCaughan

     The program was designed to be simple and fast - for more complex
     operations, the standard text processors are likely to be more

     When the first line of an indented paragraph is very long (more than
     about twice the goal length), the indentation in the output can be wrong.

     fmt is not infallible in guessing what lines are mail headers and what
     lines are not.

FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE          June 25, 2000         FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE


Want to link to this manual page? Use this URL:

home | help