man : woman
File: woman, Node: Top, Next: Introduction, Prev: (dir), Up: (dir)
WoMan: Browse Unix Manual Pages "W.O. (without) Man"
Software Version 0.54 (beta)
Manual Last Updated Time-stamp: <2006-03-25 14:59:03 karl>
Francis J. Wright <F.J.WrightATqmw.uk>
School of Mathematical Sciences (http://centaur.maths.qmw.ac.uk/)
Queen Mary and Westfield College (University of London)
Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK
* Introduction:: Introduction
* Background:: Background
* Finding:: Finding and Formatting Man Pages
* Browsing:: Browsing Man Pages
* Customization:: Customization
* Log:: The *WoMan-Log* Buffer
* Technical:: Technical Details
* Bugs:: Reporting Bugs
* Acknowledgements:: Acknowledgements
* GNU Free Documentation License:: The license for this documentation.
* Command Index:: Command Index
* Variable Index:: Variable Index
* Keystroke Index:: Keystroke Index
* Concept Index:: Concept Index
File: woman, Node: Introduction, Next: Background, Prev: Top, Up: Top
This version of WoMan should run with GNU Emacs 20.3 or later on any
platform. It has not been tested, and may not run, with any other
version of Emacs. It was developed primarily on various versions of
Microsoft Windows, but has also been tested on MS-DOS, and various
versions of UNIX and GNU/Linux.
WoMan is distributed with GNU Emacs. In addition, the current source
code and documentation files are available from the WoMan web server
WoMan implements a subset of the formatting performed by the Emacs
`man' (or `manual-entry') command to format a Unix-style "manual page"
(usually abbreviated to "man page") for display, but without calling
any external programs. It is intended to emulate the whole of the
`roff -man' macro package, plus those `roff' requests (*note
Background: Background.) that are most commonly used in man pages.
However, the emulation is modified to include the reformatting done by
the Emacs `man' command. No hyphenation is performed.
Much more direct, does not require any external programs. Supports
completion on man page names.
Not a complete emulation. Currently no support for `eqn' or
`tbl'. Slightly slower for large man pages (but usually faster for
small- and medium-size pages).
This browser works quite well on simple well-written man files. It
works less well on idiosyncratic files that "break the rules" or use
the more obscure `roff' requests directly. Current test results are
available in the file `woman.status'
WoMan supports the use of compressed man files via
`auto-compression-mode' by turning it on if necessary. But you may
need to adjust the user option `woman-file-compression-regexp'. *Note
Interface Options: Interface Options.
Brief help on the WoMan interactive commands and user options, all of
which begin with the prefix `woman-' (or occasionally `WoMan-'), is
available most easily by loading WoMan and then either running the
command `woman-mini-help' or selecting the WoMan menu option `Mini
WoMan is (of course) still under development! Please let me know
<F.J.WrightATqmw.uk> what doesn't work--I am adding and improving
functionality as testing shows that it is necessary. Guidance on
reporting bugs is given below. *Note Reporting Bugs: Bugs.
File: woman, Node: Background, Next: Finding, Prev: Introduction, Up: Top
WoMan is a browser for traditional Unix-style manual page documentation.
Each such document is conventionally referred to as a "manual page", or
"man page" for short, even though some are very much longer than one
page. A man page is a document written using the Unix "man" macros,
which are themselves written in the nroff/troff text processing markup
language. `nroff' and `troff' are text processors originally written
for the UNIX operating system by Joseph F. Ossanna at Bell
Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA. They are closely related,
and except in the few cases where the distinction between them is
important I will refer to them both ambiguously as `roff'.
`roff' markup consists of "requests" and "escape sequences". A request
occupies a complete line and begins with either a period or a single
forward quote. An escape sequences is embedded within the input text
and begins (by default) with a backslash. The original man macro
package defines 20 new `roff' requests implemented as macros, which
were considered to be sufficient for writing man pages. But whilst in
principle man pages use only the man macros, in practice a significant
number use many other `roff' requests.
The distinction between `troff' and `nroff' is that `troff' was
designed to drive a phototypesetter whereas `nroff' was designed to
produce essentially ASCII output for a character-based device similar
to a teletypewriter (usually abbreviated to "teletype" or "tty").
Hence, `troff' supports much finer control over output positioning than
does `nroff' and can be seen as a forerunner of TeX. Traditionally,
man pages are either formatted by `troff' for typesetting or by `nroff'
for printing on a character printer or displaying on a screen. Of
course, over the last 25 years or so, the distinction between typeset
output on paper and characters on a screen has become blurred by the
fact that most screens now support bit-mapped displays, so that any
information that can be printed can also be rendered on screen, the
only difference being the resolution.
Nevertheless, Unix-style manual page documentation is still normally
browsed on screen by running a program called `man'. This program
looks in a predefined set of directories for the man page matching a
specified topic, then either formats the source file by running `nroff'
or recovers a pre-formatted file, and displays it via a pager such as
`more'. `nroff' normally formats for a printer, so it paginates the
output, numbers the pages, etc., most of which is irrelevant when the
document is browsed as a continuous scrollable document on screen. The
only concession to on-screen browsing normally implemented by the `man'
program is to squeeze consecutive blank lines into a single blank line.
For some time, Emacs has offered an improved interface for browsing man
pages in the form of the Emacs `man' (or `manual-entry') command, see
*note man: (emacs)Documentation. This command runs `man' as described
above, perhaps in the background, and then post-processes the output to
remove much of the `nroff' pagination such as page headers and footers,
and places the result into an Emacs buffer. It puts this buffer into a
special major mode, which is tailored for man page browsing, and
provides a number of useful navigation commands, support for following
references, etc. It provides some support for special display faces
(fonts), but no special menu or mouse support. The Emacs man package
appears to have been developed over about 10 years, from the late 1980s
to the late 1990s.
There is considerable inefficiency in having `nroff' paginate a
document and then removing most of the pagination!
WoMan is an Emacs Lisp library that provides an emulation of the
functionality of the Emacs `man' command, the main difference being
that WoMan does not use any external programs. The only situation in
which WoMan might use an external program is when the source file is
compressed, when WoMan will use the standard Emacs automatic
decompression facility, which does call an external program.
I began developing WoMan in the Spring of 1997 and the first version was
released in May 1997. The original motivation for WoMan was the fact
that many GNU and Unix programs are ported to other platforms and come
with Unix-style manual page documentation. This may be difficult to
read because ports of the Unix-style `man' program can be a little
awkward to set up. I decided that it should not be too hard to emulate
the 20 `man' macros directly, without treating them as macros and
largely ignoring the underlying `roff' requests, given the text
processing capabilities of Emacs. This proved to be essentially true,
and it did not take a great deal of work to be able to format simple man
One problem arose with the significant number of man pages that use
`roff' requests in addition to the `man' macros, and since releasing
the first version of WoMan I have been continually extending it to
support more `roff' requests. WoMan can now format a significant
proportion of the man pages that I have tested, either well or at least
readably. However, I have added capabilities partly by making
additional passes through the document, a design that is fundamentally
flawed. This can only be solved by a major re-design of WoMan to
handle the major formatting within a single recursive pass, rather than
the present multiple passes without any significant recursion. There
are some `roff' requests that cannot be handled satisfactorily within
the present design. Some of these are currently handled by kludges
that "usually more or less work."
The principle advantage of WoMan is that it does not require `man', and
indeed the name WoMan is a contraction of "without man." But it has
other advantages. It does not paginate the document, so it does not
need to un-paginate it again, thereby saving time. It could take full
advantage of the display capabilities available to it, and I hope to
develop WoMan to take advantage of developments in Emacs itself. At
present, WoMan uses several display faces to support bold and italic
text, to indicate other fonts, etc. The default faces are also
colored, but the choice of faces is customizable. WoMan provides menu
support for navigation and mouse support for following references, in
addition to the navigation facilities provided by `man' mode. WoMan
has (this) texinfo documentation!
WoMan _does not_ replace `man', although it does use a number of the
facilities implemented in the Emacs `man' library. WoMan and man can
happily co-exist, which is very useful for comparison and debugging
`nroff' simulates non-ASCII characters by using one or more ASCII
characters. WoMan should be able to do much better than this. I have
recently begun to add support for WoMan to use more of the characters
in its default font and to use a symbol font, and it is an aspect that
I intend to develop further in the near future. It should be possible
to move WoMan from an emulation of `nroff' to an emulation of `troff'
as GNU Emacs moves to providing bit-mapped display facilities.
File: woman, Node: Finding, Next: Browsing, Prev: Background, Up: Top
3 Finding and Formatting Man Pages
WoMan provides three user interfaces for finding and formatting man
* a topic interface similar to that provided by the standard Emacs
* a family of filename interfaces analogous to the standard Emacs
* an automatic interface that detects the file type from its
contents. (This is currently neither well tested, well supported
The topic and filename interfaces support completion in the usual way.
The topic interface is generally the most convenient for regular use,
although it may require some special setup, especially if your machine
does not already have a conventional `man' installation (which WoMan
tries to detect).
The simplest filename interface command `woman-find-file' can always be
used with no setup at all (provided WoMan is installed and loaded or
set up to autoload).
The automatic interface always requires special setup.
Case-Dependence of Filenames
By default, WoMan ignores case in file pathnames only when it seems
appropriate. Microsoft Windows users who want complete case
independence should set the special NTEmacs variable
`w32-downcase-file-names' to `t' and use all lower case when setting
WoMan file paths.
* Topic:: Topic Interface
* Filename:: Filename Interface
* Automatic:: Automatic Interface
File: woman, Node: Topic, Next: Filename, Prev: Finding, Up: Finding
3.1 Topic Interface
The topic interface is accessed principally via the command `woman'.
The same command can be accessed via the menu item `Help->Manuals->Read
Man Page (WoMan)...' once WoMan has been loaded. The command reads a
manual topic in the minibuffer, which can be the "basename" of a man
file anywhere in the man file structure. The "basename" in this
context means the filename without any directory component and without
any extension or suffix components that relate to the file type. So,
for example, if there is a compressed source file in Chapter 5 of the
UNIX Programmer's Manual with the full pathname
`/usr/local/man/man5/man.conf.5.gz' then the topic is `man.conf'.
Provided WoMan is configured correctly, this topic will appear among
the completions offered by `woman'. If more than one file has the same
topic name then WoMan will prompt for which file to format. Completion
of topics is case insensitive.
Clearly, `woman' has to know where to look for man files and there are
two customizable user options that store this information:
`woman-manpath' and `woman-path'. *Note Interface Options: Interface
Options. If `woman-manpath' is not set explicitly then WoMan tries to
pick up the information that would be used by the `man' command, as
follows. If the environment variable `MANPATH' is set, which seems to
be the standard mechanism under UNIX, then WoMan parses that.
Otherwise, if WoMan can find a configuration file named (by default)
`man.conf' (or something very similar), which seems to be the standard
mechanism under GNU/Linux, then it parses that. To be precise,
"something very similar" means starting with `man' and ending with
`.conf' and possibly more lowercase letters, e.g.
`manual.configuration'. The search path and/or precise full path name
for this file are set by the value of the customizable user option
`woman-man.conf-path'. If all else fails, WoMan uses a plausible
default man search path.
If the above default configuration does not work correctly for any
reason then simply customize the value of `woman-manpath'. To access
man files that are not in a conventional man file hierarchy, customize
the value of `woman-path' to include the directories containing the
files. In this way, `woman' can access manual files _anywhere_ in the
entire file system.
There are two differences between `woman-manpath' and `woman-path'.
Firstly, the elements of `woman-manpath' must be directories that
contain _directories of_ man files, whereas the elements of
`woman-path' must be directories that contain man files _directly_.
Secondly, the last directory component of each element of `woman-path'
is treated as a regular (Emacs) match expression rather than a fixed
name, which allows collections of related directories to be specified
succinctly. Also, elements of `woman-manpath' can be conses,
indicating a mapping from `PATH' environment variable components to man
For topic completion to work, WoMan must build a list of all the manual
files that it can access, which can be very slow, especially if a
network is involved. For this reason, it caches various amounts of
information, after which retrieving it from the cache is very fast. If
the cache ever gets out of synchronism with reality, running the
`woman' command with a prefix argument (e.g. `C-u M-x woman') will
force it to rebuild its cache. This is necessary only if the names or
locations of any man files change; it is not necessary if only their
contents change. It would always be necessary if such a change occurred
whilst Emacs were running and after WoMan has been loaded. It may be
necessary if such a change occurs between Emacs sessions and persistent
caching is used, although WoMan can detect some changes that invalidate
its cache and rebuild it automatically.
Customize the variable `woman-cache-filename' to save the cache between
Emacs sessions. This is recommended only if the `woman' command is too
slow the first time it is run in an Emacs session, while it builds its
cache in main memory, which _may_ be _very_ slow. *Note The WoMan
Topic Cache: Cache, for further details.
* Cache:: The WoMan Topic Cache
* Word at point:: Using the ``Word at Point'' as a Topic Suggestion
File: woman, Node: Cache, Next: Word at point, Prev: Topic, Up: Topic
3.1.1 The WoMan Topic Cache
The amount of information that WoMan caches (in main memory and,
optionally, saved to disc) is controlled by the user option
`woman-cache-level'. There is a trade-off between the speed with which
WoMan can find a file and the size of the cache, and the default
setting gives a reasonable compromise.
The `woman' command always performs a certain amount of caching in main
memory, but it can also write its cache to the filestore as a
persistent cache under control of the user option
`woman-cache-filename'. If persistent caching is turned on then WoMan
re-loads its internal cache from the cache file almost instantaneously,
so that there is never any perceptible start-up delay _except_ when
WoMan rebuilds its cache. Persistent caching is currently turned off
by default. This is because users with persistent caching turned on
may overlook the need to force WoMan to rebuild its cache the first
time they run it after they have installed new man files; with
persistent caching turned off, WoMan automatically rebuilds its cache
every time it is run in a new Emacs session.
A prefix argument always causes the `woman' command (only) to rebuild
its topic cache, and to re-save it to `woman-cache-filename' if this
variable has a non-`nil' value. This is necessary if the _names_ of
any of the directories or files in the paths specified by
`woman-manpath' or `woman-path' change. If WoMan user options that
affect the cache are changed then WoMan will automatically update its
cache file on disc (if one is in use) the next time it is run in a new
File: woman, Node: Word at point, Prev: Cache, Up: Topic
3.1.2 Using the "Word at Point" as a Topic Suggestion
By default, the `woman' command uses the word nearest to point in the
current buffer as a suggestion for the topic to look up, if it exists
as a valid topic. The topic can be confirmed or edited in the
You can also bind the variable `woman-use-topic-at-point' locally to a
non-`nil' value (using `let'), in which case `woman' will can use the
suggested topic without confirmation if possible. This may be useful
to provide special private key bindings, e.g. this key binding for `C-c
w' runs WoMan on the topic at point without seeking confirmation:
(let ((woman-use-topic-at-point t))
File: woman, Node: Filename, Next: Automatic, Prev: Topic, Up: Finding
3.2 Filename Interface
The commands in this family are completely independent of the topic
interface, caching mechanism, etc.
The filename interface is accessed principally via the extended command
`woman-find-file', which is available without any configuration at all
(provided WoMan is installed and loaded or set up to autoload). This
command can be used to browse any accessible man file, regardless of
its filename or location. If the file is compressed then automatic
file decompression must already be turned on (e.g. see the
`Help->Options' submenu)--it is turned on automatically only by the
`woman' topic interface.
Once WoMan is loaded (or if specially set up), various additional
commands in this family are available. In a dired buffer, the command
`woman-dired-find-file' allows the file on the same line as point to be
formatted and browsed by WoMan. It is bound to the key `W' in the
dired mode map and added to the dired major mode menu. It may also be
bound to `w', unless this key is bound by another library, which it is
by `dired-x', for example. Because it is quite likely that other
libraries will extend the capabilities of such a commonly used mode as
dired, the precise key bindings added by WoMan to the dired mode map
are controlled by the user option `woman-dired-keys'.
When a tar (Tape ARchive) file is visited in Emacs, it is opened in tar
mode, which parses the tar file and shows a dired-like view of its
contents. The WoMan command `woman-tar-extract-file' allows the file
on the same line as point to be formatted and browsed by WoMan. It is
bound to the key `w' in the tar mode map and added to the tar major
The command `woman-reformat-last-file', which is bound to the key `R'
in WoMan mode and available on the major mode menu, reformats the last
file formatted by WoMan. This may occasionally be useful if formatting
parameters, such as the fill column, are changed, or perhaps if the
buffer is somehow corrupted.
The command `woman-decode-buffer' can be used to decode and browse the
current buffer if it is visiting a man file, although it is primarily
used internally by WoMan.
File: woman, Node: Automatic, Prev: Filename, Up: Finding
3.3 Automatic Interface
Emacs provides an interface to detect automatically the format of a file
and decode it when it is visited. It is used primarily by the
facilities for editing rich (i.e. formatted) text, as a way to store
formatting information transparently as ASCII markup. WoMan can in
principle use this interface, but it must be configured explicitly.
This use of WoMan does not seem to be particularly advantageous, so it
is not really supported. It originated during early experiments on how
best to implement WoMan, before I implemented the current topic
interface, and I subsequently stopped using it. I might revive it as a
mechanism for storing pre-formatted WoMan files, somewhat analogous to
the standard Unix `catman' facility. In the meantime, it exists for
anyone who wants to experiment with it. Once it is set up it is simply
a question of visiting the file and there is no WoMan-specific user
To use it, put something like this in your `.emacs' file. [The call to
`set-visited-file-name' is to avoid font-locking triggered by automatic
major mode selection.]
(autoload 'woman-decode-region "woman")
'(man "Unix man-page source format" "\\.\\(TH\\|ig\\) "
woman-decode-region nil nil
File: woman, Node: Browsing, Next: Customization, Prev: Finding, Up: Top
4 Browsing Man Pages
Once a man page has been found and formatted, WoMan provides a browsing
interface that is essentially the same as that provided by the standard
Emacs `man' command (and much of the code is inherited from the `man'
library, which WoMan currently requires). Many WoMan facilities can be
accessed from the WoMan major mode menu as well as via key bindings,
WoMan does not produce any page breaks or page numbers, and in fact does
not paginate the man page at all, since this is not appropriate for
continuous online browsing. It produces a document header line that is
constructed from the standard man page header and footer. Apart from
that, the appearance of the formatted man page should be almost
identical to what would be produced by `man', with consecutive blank
lines squeezed to a single blank line.
* Fonts:: Fonts and Faces
* Navigation:: Navigation
* References:: Following References
* Changing:: Changing the Current Man Page
* Convenience:: Convenience Key Bindings
* Imenu:: Imenu Support; Contents Menu
File: woman, Node: Fonts, Next: Navigation, Prev: Browsing, Up: Browsing
4.1 Fonts and Faces
Fonts used by `roff' are handled by WoMan as faces, the details of
which are customizable. *Note Faces: Faces. WoMan supports both the
italic and bold fonts normally used in man pages, together with a single
face to represent all unknown fonts (which are occasionally used in
"non-standard" man pages, usually to represent a "typewriter" font) and
a face to indicate additional symbols introduced by WoMan. This
currently means the characters ^ and _ used to indicate super- and
sub-scripts, which are not displayed well by WoMan.
File: woman, Node: Navigation, Next: References, Prev: Fonts, Up: Browsing
Man (and hence WoMan) mode can be thought of as a superset of view mode.
The buffer cannot be edited, so keys that would normally self-insert are
used for navigation. The WoMan key bindings are a minor modification of
the `man' key bindings.
Scroll the man page up the window (`scroll-up').
Scroll the man page down the window (`scroll-down').
Move point to the Nth next section--default 1 (`Man-next-section').
Move point to Nth previous section--default 1
Move point to the specified section (`Man-goto-section').
Move point to the "SEE ALSO" section
(`Man-goto-see-also-section'). Actually the section moved to is
described by `Man-see-also-regexp'.
File: woman, Node: References, Next: Changing, Prev: Navigation, Up: Browsing
4.3 Following References
Man pages usually contain a "SEE ALSO" section containing references to
other man pages. If these man pages are installed then WoMan can
easily be directed to follow the reference, i.e. to find and format the
man page. When the mouse is passed over a correctly formatted reference
it is highlighted, in which case clicking the middle button `Mouse-2'
will cause WoMan to follow the reference. Alternatively, when point is
over such a reference the key <RET> will follow the reference.
Any word in the buffer can be used as a reference by clicking `Mouse-2'
over it provided the Meta key is also used (although in general such a
"reference" will not lead to a man page). Alternatively, the key `r'
allows completion to be used to select a reference to follow, based on
the word at point as default.
Run WoMan with word under mouse as topic (`woman-mouse-2'). The
word must be mouse-highlighted unless `woman-mouse-2' is used with
the Meta key.
Get the man page for the topic under (or nearest to) point
Get one of the man pages referred to in the "SEE ALSO" section
(`Man-follow-manual-reference'). Specify which reference to use;
default is based on word at point.
File: woman, Node: Changing, Next: Convenience, Prev: References, Up: Browsing
4.4 Changing the Current Man Page
The man page currently being browsed by WoMan can be changed in several
ways. The command `woman' can be invoked to format another man page,
or the current WoMan buffer can be buried or killed. WoMan maintains a
ring of formatted man pages, and it is possible to move forwards and
backwards in this ring by moving to the next or previous man page. It
is sometimes useful to reformat the current page, for example after the
right margin (the wrap column) or some other formatting parameter has
Buffers formatted by Man and WoMan are completely unrelated, even though
some of the commands to manipulate them are superficially the same (and
Run the command `man' to get a Un*x manual page and put it in a
buffer. This command is the top-level command in the man package.
It runs a Un*x command to retrieve and clean a man page in the
background and places the results in a Man mode (man page
browsing) buffer. If a man buffer already exists for this man
page, it will display immediately. This works exactly the same if
WoMan is loaded, except that the formatting time is displayed in
Run the command `woman' exactly as if the extended command or menu
item had been used.
Bury the buffer containing the current man page (`Man-quit'), i.e.
move it to the bottom of the buffer stack.
Kill the buffer containing the current man page (`Man-kill'), i.e.
delete it completely so that it can be retrieved only by formatting
the page again.
Find the previous WoMan buffer (`WoMan-previous-manpage').
Find the next WoMan buffer (`WoMan-next-manpage').
Call WoMan to reformat the last man page formatted by WoMan
(`woman-reformat-last-file'), e.g. after changing the fill column.
File: woman, Node: Convenience, Next: Imenu, Prev: Changing, Up: Browsing
4.5 Convenience Key Bindings
Begin a negative numeric argument for the next command
`0 .. 9'
Part of the numeric argument for the next command
Move point to the beginning of the buffer; leave mark at previous
Move point to the end of the buffer; leave mark at previous
Display documentation of current major mode and minor modes
(`describe-mode'). The major mode description comes first,
followed by the minor modes, each on a separate page.
File: woman, Node: Imenu, Prev: Convenience, Up: Browsing
4.6 Imenu Support; Contents Menu
The WoMan menu provides an option to make a contents menu for the
current man page (using `imenu'). Alternatively, if you customize the
option `woman-imenu' to `t' then WoMan will do it automatically for
every man page. The menu title is set by the option
`woman-imenu-title', which is "CONTENTS" by default. The menu shows
manual sections and subsections by default, but you can change this by
WoMan is configured not to replace spaces in an imenu `*Completion*'
buffer. For further documentation on the use of imenu, such as menu
sorting, see the source file `imenu.el', which is distributed with GNU
File: woman, Node: Customization, Next: Log, Prev: Browsing, Up: Top
All WoMan user options are customizable, and it is recommended to
change them only via the standard Emacs customization facilities.
WoMan defines a top-level customization group called `WoMan' under the
parent group `Help'. It can be accessed either via the standard Emacs
facilities, e.g. via the `Help->Customize' submenu, or via the WoMan
major mode menu.
The top-level WoMan group contains only a few general options and three
subgroups. The hooks are provided only for special purposes that, for
example, require code to be executed, and should be changed only via
`Customization' or the function `add-hook'. Most customization should
be possible via existing user options.
A boolean value that defaults to `nil'. If non-`nil' then show the
`*WoMan-Log*' buffer if appropriate, i.e. if any warning messages
are written to it. *Note The *WoMan-Log* Buffer: Log.
A hook run immediately before formatting a buffer. It might, for
example, be used for face customization. *Note Faces: Faces,
A hook run immediately after formatting a buffer. It might, for
example, be used for installing a dynamic menu using `imenu'.
(However. in this case it is better to use the built-in WoMan
`imenu' support. *Note Imenu Support; Contents Menu: Imenu.)
These options control the process of locating the appropriate file
to browse, and the appearance of the browsing interface.
These options control the layout that WoMan uses to format the man
These options control the display faces that WoMan uses to format
the man page.
* Interface Options::
* Formatting Options::
* Special symbols::
File: woman, Node: Interface Options, Next: Formatting Options, Prev: Customization, Up: Customization
5.1 Interface Options
These options control the process of locating the appropriate file to
browse, and the appearance of the browsing interface.
A list of strings representing directories to search and/or files
to try for a man configuration file. The default is
[for GNU/Linux and Cygwin respectively.] A trailing separator (`/'
for UNIX etc.) on directories is optional and the filename matched
if a directory is specified is the first to match the regexp
`man.*\.conf'. If the environment variable `MANPATH' is not set
but a configuration file is found then it is parsed instead (or as
well) to provide a default value for `woman-manpath'.
A list of strings representing _directory trees_ to search for Unix
manual files. Each element should be the name of a directory that
contains subdirectories of the form `man?', or more precisely
subdirectories selected by the value of `woman-manpath-man-regexp'.
Non-directory and unreadable files are ignored. This can also
contain conses, with the car indicating a `PATH' variable
component mapped to the directory tree given in the cdr.
If not set then the environment variable `MANPATH' is used. If no
such environment variable is found, the default list is determined
by consulting the man configuration file if found. By default
this is expected to be either `/etc/man.config' or
`/usr/local/lib/man.conf', which is controlled by the user option
`woman-man.conf-path'. An empty substring of `MANPATH' denotes
the default list. Otherwise, the default value of this variable is
Any environment variables (names of which must have the Unix-style
form `$NAME', e.g. `$HOME', `$EMACSDATA', `$EMACS_DIR', regardless
of platform) are evaluated first but each element must evaluate to
a _single_ directory name. Trailing `/'s are ignored. (Specific
directories in `woman-path' are also searched.)
On Microsoft platforms I recommend including drive letters
("C:/Cygwin/usr/man" "C:/usr/man" "C:/usr/local/man")
The `MANPATH' environment variable may be set using DOS
semi-colon-separated or Unix-style colon-separated syntax (but not
A regular expression to match man directories _under_ the
`woman-manpath' directories. These normally have names of the form
`man?'. Its default value is `"[Mm][Aa][Nn]"', which is
case-insensitive mainly for the benefit of Microsoft platforms.
Its purpose is to avoid directories such as `cat?', `.', `..', etc.
A list of strings representing _specific directories_ to search for
Unix manual files. For example
These directories are searched in addition to the directory trees
specified in `woman-manpath'. Each element should be a directory
string or `nil', which represents the current directory when the
path is expanded and cached. However, the last component (only)
of each directory string is treated as a regexp (Emacs, not shell)
and the string is expanded into a list of matching directories.
Non-directory and unreadable files are ignored. The default value
on MS-DOS is
and on other platforms is `nil'.
Any environment variables (names of which must have the Unix-style
form `$NAME', e.g. `$HOME', `$EMACSDATA', `$EMACS_DIR', regardless
of platform) are evaluated first but each element must evaluate to
a _single_ directory name (regexp, see above). For example
Trailing `/'s are discarded. (The directory trees in
`woman-manpath' are also searched.) On Microsoft platforms I
recommend including drive letters explicitly.
A positive integer representing the level of topic caching:
1. cache only the topic and directory lists (uses minimal
memory, but not recommended);
2. cache also the directories for each topic (faster, without
using much more memory);
3. cache also the actual filenames for each topic (fastest, but
uses twice as much memory).
The default value is currently 2, a good general compromise. If
the `woman' command is slow to find files then try 3, which may be
particularly beneficial with large remote-mounted man directories.
Run the `woman' command with a prefix argument or delete the cache
file `woman-cache-filename' for a change to take effect. (Values
< 1 behave like 1; values > 3 behave like 3.)
Either a string representing the full pathname of the WoMan
directory and topic cache file, or `nil'. It is used to save and
restore the cache between Emacs sessions. This is especially
useful with remote-mounted man page files! The default value of
`nil' suppresses this action. The "standard" non-`nil' filename is
`~/.wmncach.el'. Remember that a prefix argument forces the
`woman' command to update and re-write the cache.
A list of `dired' mode keys to be defined to run WoMan on the
current file, e.g. `("w" "W")' or any non-`nil' atom to
automatically define `w' and `W' if they are unbound, or `nil' to
do nothing. Default is `t'.
Imenu support for Sections and Subsections: an alist with elements
of the form `(MENU-TITLE REGEXP INDEX)'--see the documentation for
`imenu-generic-expression'. Default value is
((nil "\n\\([A-Z].*\\)" 1) ; SECTION, but not TITLE
("*Subsections*" "^ \\([A-Z].*\\)" 1))
A boolean value that defaults to `nil'. If non-`nil' then WoMan
adds a Contents menu to the menubar by calling
A string representing the title to use if WoMan adds a Contents
menu to the menubar. Default is `"CONTENTS"'.
A boolean value that defaults to `nil'. If non-`nil' then the
`woman' command uses the word at point as the topic, _without
interactive confirmation_, if it exists as a topic.
A boolean value representing the default value for
`woman-use-topic-at-point'. The default value is `nil'. [The
variable `woman-use-topic-at-point' may be `let'-bound when
`woman' is loaded, in which case its global value does not get
defined. The function `woman-file-name' sets it to this value if
it is unbound.]
A regular match expression used to select man source files
(ignoring any compression extension). The default value is
`"\\.\\([0-9lmnt]\\w*\\)"' [which means a filename extension is
_Do not change this unless you are sure you know what you are
The SysV standard man pages use two character suffixes, and this is
becoming more common in the GNU world. For example, the man pages
in the `ncurses' package include `toe.1m', `form.3x', etc.
*Please note:* an optional compression regexp will be appended, so
this regexp _must not_ end with any kind of string terminator such
as `$' or `\\''.
A regular match expression used to match compressed man file
extensions for which decompressors are available and handled by
auto-compression mode. It should begin with `\\.' and end with
`\\'' and _must not_ be optional. The default value is
`"\\.\\(g?z\\|bz2\\)\\'"', which matches the `gzip' and `bzip2'
_Do not change this unless you are sure you know what you are
[It should be compatible with the `car' of
`jka-compr-file-name-handler-entry', but that is unduly
complicated, includes an inappropriate extension (`.tgz') and is
not loaded by default!]
If non-`nil' then use a dedicated frame for displaying WoMan
windows. This is useful only when WoMan is run under a window
system such as X or Microsoft Windows that supports real multiple
frames, in which case the default value is non-`nil'.
File: woman, Node: Formatting Options, Next: Faces, Prev: Interface Options, Up: Customization
5.2 Formatting Options
These options control the layout that WoMan uses to format the man page.
An integer specifying the right margin for formatted text.
Default is 65.
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then most of the frame width is
used, overriding the value of `woman-fill-column'. Default is
An integer specifying the default prevailing indent for the `-man'
macros. Default is 5. Set this variable to 7 to emulate
GNU/Linux man formatting.
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then embolden section and subsection
headings. Default is `t'. [Heading emboldening is _not_ standard
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then unrecognised requests etc. are
ignored. Default is `t'. This gives the standard `roff' behavior.
If `nil' then they are left in the buffer, which may aid debugging.
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then preserve ASCII characters in
the WoMan buffer. Otherwise, non-ASCII characters (that display as
ASCII) may remain, which is irrelevant unless the buffer is to be
saved to a file. Default is `nil'.
WoMan emulation, currently either `nroff' or `troff'. Default is
`nroff'. `troff' emulation is experimental and largely untested.
File: woman, Node: Faces, Next: Special symbols, Prev: Formatting Options, Up: Customization
These options control the display faces that WoMan uses to format the
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then WoMan assumes that face
support is available. It defaults to a non-`nil' value if the
display supports either colors or different fonts.
Face for italic font in man pages. Default: italic, underlined,
foreground red. This is overkill! `troff' uses just italic;
`nroff' uses just underline. You should probably select either
italic or underline as you prefer, but not both, although italic
and underline work together perfectly well!
Face for bold font in man pages. Default: bold, foreground blue.
Face for all unknown fonts in man pages. Default: foreground
brown. Brown is a good compromise: it is distinguishable from the
default but not enough so as to make font errors look terrible.
(Files that use non-standard fonts seem to do so badly or in
Face for all additions made by WoMan to man pages. Default:
File: woman, Node: Special symbols, Prev: Faces, Up: Customization
5.4 Special symbols
This section currently applies _only_ to Microsoft Windows.
WoMan provides partial experimental support for special symbols,
initially only for MS-Windows and only for MS-Windows fonts. This
includes both non-ASCII characters from the main text font and use of a
separate symbol font. Later, support will be added for other font
types (e.g. `bdf' fonts) and for the X Window System. In Emacs 20.7,
the current support works partially under Windows 9x but may not work
on any other platform.
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then WoMan may use non-ASCII
characters from the default font. Default is `t'.
A boolean value. If non-`nil' then WoMan may use the symbol font.
Default is `nil', mainly because it may change the line spacing (at
least in NTEmacs 20).
A string describing the symbol font to use for special characters.
It should be compatible with, and the same size as, the default
text font. Under MS-Windows, the default is
File: woman, Node: Log, Next: Technical, Prev: Customization, Up: Top
6 The *WoMan-Log* Buffer
This is modeled on the Emacs byte-compiler. It logs all files
formatted by WoMan and the time taken. If WoMan finds anything that it
cannot handle then it writes a warning to this buffer. If the variable
`woman-show-log' is non-`nil' (by default it is `nil') then WoMan
automatically displays this buffer. *Note Interface Options: Interface
Options. Many WoMan warnings can be completely ignored, because they
are reporting the fact that WoMan has ignored requests that it is
correct for WoMan to ignore. In some future version this level of
paranoia may be reduced, but not until WoMan is deemed more reliable.
At present, all warnings should be treated with some suspicion.
Uninterpreted escape sequences are also logged (in some cases).
By resetting the variable `woman-ignore' to `nil' (by default it is
`t'), uninterpreted `roff' requests can optionally be left in the
formatted buffer to indicate precisely where they occurred. *Note
Interface Options: Interface Options.
File: woman, Node: Technical, Next: Bugs, Prev: Log, Up: Top
7 Technical Details
Horizontal and vertical spacing and resolution
WoMan currently assumes 10 characters per inch horizontally, hence a
horizontal resolution of 24 basic units, and 5 lines per inch
vertically, hence a vertical resolution of 48 basic units. (`nroff'
uses 240 per inch.)
Vertical spacing and blank lines
The number of consecutive blank lines in the formatted buffer should be
either 0 or 1. A blank line should leave a space like .sp 1. Current
policy is to output vertical space only immediately before text is
File: woman, Node: Bugs, Next: Acknowledgements, Prev: Technical, Up: Top
8 Reporting Bugs
If WoMan fails completely, or formats a file incorrectly (i.e.
obviously wrongly or significantly differently from `man') or
inelegantly, then please
1. try the latest version of `woman.el' from the Emacs CVS repository
on `http://savannah.gnu.org/'. If it still fails, please
2. send a bug report to <bug-gnu-emacsATgnu.org> and to
<F.J.WrightATqmw.uk>. Please include the entry from the
`*WoMan-Log*' buffer relating to the problem file, together with a
brief description of the problem. Please indicate where you got
the man source file from, but do not send it unless asked to send
File: woman, Node: Acknowledgements, Next: GNU Free Documentation License, Prev: Bugs, Up: Top
For Heather, Kathryn and Madelyn, the women in my life (although they
will probably never use it)!
I also thank the following for helpful suggestions, bug reports, code
fragments, general interest, etc.:
Jari Aalto, <jari.aaltoATcs.fi>
Dean Andrews, <deanATdra.com>
Juanma Barranquero, <barranqueroATlaley-actualidad.es>
Karl Berry, <kbATcs.edu>
Jim Chapman, <jchapmanATnetcomuk.uk>
Frederic Corne, <frederic.corneATerli.fr>
Peter Craft, <craftATalacritech.com>
Charles Curley, <ccurleyATtrib.com>
Jim Davidson, <jdavidsoATteknowledge.com>
Kevin D'Elia, <Kevin.DEliaATmci.com>
John Fitch, <jpffATmaths.uk>
Hans Frosch, <jwfroschATrish.com>
Guy Gascoigne-Piggford, <ggpATinformix.com>
Brian Gorka, <gorkabATsanchez.com>
Nicolai Henriksen, <nheATlyngso-industri.dk>
Thomas Herchenroeder, <theATsoftware-ag.de>
Alexander Hinds, <ahindsATthegrid.net>
Stefan Hornburg, <sthAThacon.de>
Theodore Jump, <tjumpATcais.com>
Paul Kinnucan, <paulkATmathworks.com>
Jonas Linde, <jonasATinit.se>
Andrew McRae, <andrewmAToptimation.nz>
Howard Melman, <howardATsilverstream.com>
Dennis Pixton, <dennisATmath.edu>
T. V. Raman, <ramanATAdobe.com>
Bruce Ravel, <bruce.ravelATnist.gov>
Benjamin Riefenstahl, <bennyATcrocodial.de>
Kevin Ruland, <krulandATseistl.com>
Tom Schutter, <tomATplatte.com>
Wei-Xue Shi, <wxshiATma.jp>
Fabio Somenzi, <fabioATjoplin.edu>
Karel Sprenger, <ksATic.nl>
Chris Szurgot, <szurgotATitribe.net>
Paul A. Thompson, <patATpo.edu>
Arrigo Triulzi, <arrigoATmaths.uk>
Geoff Voelker, <voelkerATcs.edu>
Eli Zaretskii, <elizATis.il>
File: woman, Node: GNU Free Documentation License, Next: Command Index, Prev: Acknowledgements, Up: Top
Appendix A GNU Free Documentation License
Version 1.2, November 2002
Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA
Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.
The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other
functional and useful document "free" in the sense of freedom: to
assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it,
with or without modifying it, either commercially or
noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the
author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not
being considered responsible for modifications made by others.
This License is a kind of "copyleft," which means that derivative
works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense.
It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft
license designed for free software.
We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for
free software, because free software needs free documentation: a
free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms
that the software does. But this License is not limited to
software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless
of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book.
We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is
instruction or reference.
1. APPLICABILITY AND DEFINITIONS
This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium,
that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it
can be distributed under the terms of this License. Such a notice
grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration,
to use that work under the conditions stated herein. The
"Document," below, refers to any such manual or work. Any member
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A "Modified Version" of the Document means any work containing the
Document or a portion of it, either copied verbatim, or with
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A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter
section of the Document that deals exclusively with the
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The "Invariant Sections" are certain Secondary Sections whose
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To "Preserve the Title" of such a section when you modify the
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2. VERBATIM COPYING
You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either
commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the
copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License
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A. Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title
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5. COMBINING DOCUMENTS
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In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled
"History" in the various original documents, forming one section
Entitled "History"; likewise combine any sections Entitled
"Acknowledgements," and any sections Entitled "Dedications." You
must delete all sections Entitled "Endorsements."
6. COLLECTIONS OF DOCUMENTS
You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other
documents released under this License, and replace the individual
copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy
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rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the
documents in all other respects.
You may extract a single document from such a collection, and
distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert
a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow
this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of
7. AGGREGATION WITH INDEPENDENT WORKS
A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other
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a storage or distribution medium, is called an "aggregate" if the
copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the
legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual
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License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which
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If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these
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of the entire aggregate, the Document's Cover Texts may be placed
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the whole aggregate.
Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may
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4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special
permission from their copyright holders, but you may include
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translation of this License, and all the license notices in the
Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also
include the original English version of this License and the
original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a
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If a section in the Document is Entitled "Acknowledgements,"
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10. FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS LICENSE
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Copyright (C) YEAR YOUR NAME.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
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replace the "with...Texts." line with this:
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If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other
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File: woman, Node: Command Index, Next: Variable Index, Prev: GNU Free Documentation License, Up: Top
* beginning-of-buffer: Convenience. (line 16)
* describe-mode: Convenience. (line 24)
* digit-argument: Convenience. (line 11)
* end-of-buffer: Convenience. (line 20)
* man: Changing. (line 20)
* man-follow: References. (line 26)
* Man-follow-manual-reference: References. (line 30)
* Man-goto-section: Navigation. (line 25)
* Man-goto-see-also-section: Navigation. (line 28)
* Man-kill: Changing. (line 38)
* Man-next-section: Navigation. (line 18)
* Man-previous-section: Navigation. (line 21)
* Man-quit: Changing. (line 34)
* negative-argument: Convenience. (line 7)
* scroll-down: Navigation. (line 15)
* scroll-up: Navigation. (line 12)
* woman: Changing. (line 30)
* woman-decode-buffer: Filename. (line 42)
* woman-dired-find-file: Filename. (line 18)
* woman-find-file: Filename. (line 9)
* woman-mouse-2: References. (line 21)
* WoMan-next-manpage: Changing. (line 46)
* WoMan-previous-manpage: Changing. (line 43)
* woman-reformat-last-file: Changing. (line 49)
* woman-tar-extract-file: Filename. (line 29)
File: woman, Node: Variable Index, Next: Keystroke Index, Prev: Command Index, Up: Top
* w32-downcase-file-names: Finding. (line 35)
* woman-addition-face: Faces. (line 31)
* woman-bold-face: Faces. (line 21)
* woman-bold-headings: Formatting Options. (line 22)
* woman-cache-filename: Interface Options. (line 116)
* woman-cache-level: Interface Options. (line 97)
* woman-default-indent: Formatting Options. (line 17)
* woman-dired-keys: Interface Options. (line 125)
* woman-emulation: Formatting Options. (line 38)
* woman-file-compression-regexp: Interface Options. (line 178)
* woman-fill-column: Formatting Options. (line 8)
* woman-fill-frame: Formatting Options. (line 12)
* woman-fontify: Faces. (line 9)
* woman-ignore: Formatting Options. (line 27)
* woman-imenu: Interface Options. (line 139)
* woman-imenu-generic-expression: Interface Options. (line 131)
* woman-imenu-title: Interface Options. (line 144)
* woman-italic-face: Faces. (line 14)
* woman-man.conf-path: Interface Options. (line 9)
* woman-manpath: Interface Options. (line 22)
* woman-manpath-man-regexp: Interface Options. (line 56)
* woman-path: Interface Options. (line 63)
* woman-post-format-hook: Customization. (line 29)
* woman-pre-format-hook: Customization. (line 24)
* woman-preserve-ascii: Formatting Options. (line 32)
* woman-show-log: Customization. (line 19)
* woman-symbol-font: Special symbols. (line 25)
* woman-uncompressed-file-regexp: Interface Options. (line 161)
* woman-unknown-face: Faces. (line 24)
* woman-use-extended-font: Special symbols. (line 16)
* woman-use-own-frame: Interface Options. (line 194)
* woman-use-symbol-font: Special symbols. (line 20)
* woman-use-topic-at-point: Interface Options. (line 148)
* woman-use-topic-at-point-default: Interface Options. (line 153)
File: woman, Node: Keystroke Index, Next: Concept Index, Prev: Variable Index, Up: Top
* -: Convenience. (line 7)
* .: Convenience. (line 16)
* 0 .. 9: Convenience. (line 11)
* <: Convenience. (line 15)
* >: Convenience. (line 20)
* ?: Convenience. (line 24)
* DEL: Navigation. (line 15)
* g: Navigation. (line 25)
* k: Changing. (line 38)
* m: Changing. (line 20)
* M-n: Changing. (line 46)
* M-p: Changing. (line 43)
* Mouse-2: References. (line 21)
* n: Navigation. (line 18)
* p: Navigation. (line 21)
* q: Changing. (line 34)
* R: Changing. (line 49)
* r: References. (line 30)
* RET: References. (line 26)
* s: Navigation. (line 28)
* SPC: Navigation. (line 12)
* w: Changing. (line 30)
File: woman, Node: Concept Index, Prev: Keystroke Index, Up: Top
* acknowledgements: Acknowledgements. (line 6)
* automatic interface: Automatic. (line 6)
* background: Background. (line 6)
* browsing man pages: Browsing. (line 6)
* buffer, log: Log. (line 6)
* bugs, reporting: Bugs. (line 6)
* cache, topic: Cache. (line 6)
* case-sensitivity: Finding. (line 35)
* changing current man page: Changing. (line 6)
* contents menu: Imenu. (line 6)
* convenience key bindings: Convenience. (line 6)
* current man page, changing: Changing. (line 6)
* customization: Customization. (line 6)
* directory separator character: Interface Options. (line 52)
* faces <1>: Faces. (line 6)
* faces: Fonts. (line 6)
* filename interface: Filename. (line 6)
* finding man pages: Finding. (line 6)
* following references: References. (line 6)
* fonts: Fonts. (line 6)
* formatting man pages: Finding. (line 6)
* formatting options: Formatting Options. (line 6)
* horizontal spacing: Technical. (line 6)
* imenu support: Imenu. (line 6)
* interface options: Interface Options. (line 6)
* introduction: Introduction. (line 6)
* key bindings, convenience: Convenience. (line 6)
* log buffer: Log. (line 6)
* man pages, browsing: Browsing. (line 6)
* man pages, finding: Finding. (line 6)
* man pages, formatting: Finding. (line 6)
* MANPATH, directory separator: Interface Options. (line 52)
* MANPATH, environment variable: Interface Options. (line 31)
* navigation: Navigation. (line 6)
* point, word at: Word at point. (line 6)
* references: References. (line 6)
* reporting bugs: Bugs. (line 6)
* resolution: Technical. (line 6)
* spacing, horizontal and vertical: Technical. (line 6)
* special symbols: Special symbols. (line 6)
* technical details: Technical. (line 6)
* topic cache: Cache. (line 6)
* topic interface: Topic. (line 6)
* using, browsing man pages: Browsing. (line 6)
* using, finding man pages: Finding. (line 6)
* using, formatting man pages: Finding. (line 6)
* vertical spacing: Technical. (line 6)
* word at point: Word at point. (line 6)