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fmt(1)                    BSD General Commands Manual                   fmt(1)


     fmt -- simple text formatter


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


     The fmt utility 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.  Alterna-
     tively, 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.

     The fmt utility 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.


     The LANG, LC_ALL and LC_CTYPE environment variables affect the execution
     of fmt as described in environ(7).


     fold(1), 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 opera-
     tions, the standard text processors are likely to be more appropriate.

     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.

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

BSD                             August 2, 2004                             BSD

Mac OS X 10.6 - Generated Thu Sep 17 20:07:39 CDT 2009
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