From ArchWiki

According to Wikipedia:

Groff (GNU troff) is a typesetting system that reads plain text mixed with formatting commands and produces formatted output.

Output may be PostScript or PDF, html, or ASCII/UTF8 for display at the terminal. Formatting commands may be either low-level typesetting requests (“primitives”) or macros from a supplied set. Users may also write their own macros. All three may be combined. Using groff may be a solid alternative to TeX Live due to small size and native language.


You may find groff package already installed on your system as it is a part of base-devel group in core repository. Otherwise install it with pacman as usual.

Package documentation

Groff's detailed documentation and usage examples are available via info package:

info groff

Manpages also contain general information, use:

man groff

You can also access the documentation online at:


Groff is a powerful and yet lightweight easy to use system. You can see an example of document created in groff here.

This was made with -me macros, however, groff has several built-in macros as well.

You may be interested in using ms for not complicated tasks or mom to produce scientific papers. See:

 man 7 groff_ms
 man 7 groff_mom

See the following resources for feature information:

Tips and tricks

Adding support for cyrillic fonts

If you see inappropriate symbols when output documents with cyrillic fonts to ps or pdf, make following steps:

  • Download type1 fonts with cyrillic support (for example from here Arial, Times, Courier, read README.html)
  • Place your cyrillic type1 fonts into /usr/share/fonts/gsfonts -- this is default folder for ghostscript to find fonts
  • Change ghostscript fontmap file to associate default fonts with cyrillic ones in /usr/share/ghostscript/%YOUR_VERSION%/Resource/Init/Fontmap.GS
 cd /usr/share/ghostscript/%YOUR_VERSION%/Resource/Init/
 cp Fontmap.GS Fontmap.GS.backup
 vim Fontmap.GS
  • Use '%' to comment lines with default associations. Place below new aliases, as follows:
 %/Times-Roman /NimbusRoman-Regular ;
 /Times-Roman  /TimesNRCyrMT ;
 /TimesNRCyrMT (times8.pfb) ;

Where '(times8.pfb)' is a name of your copied type1 font.

  • From now on you can prepend your default groff command with iconv prefix to print cyrillic symbols in ps files:
 iconv -f utf-8 -t koi8-r | groff -ms -Tps > && ps2pdf test.pdf

Correctly display Polish diacritics

To display Polish diacritics:

 groff -Kutf8 -Tdvi -mec -ms > test.dvi
 dvipdfm -cz 9 test.dvi

See also