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 already installed on your system as it is a dependency of the base-devel package. Otherwise install it as usual.

Package documentation

Detailed documentation and usage examples are available in groff(1) or its Info document groff.

You can also access the documentation at


Groff is a powerful and yet lightweight easy to use system.

You can see an example of document created 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 groff_ms(7) and groff_mom(7).

See the following resources for feature information:

Tips and tricks

Adding support for cyrillic fonts

If you see inappropriate symbols when outputting documents with cyrillic fonts to ps or pdf, take the following steps:

  • Download type1 fonts with cyrillic support (for example from gs-type1_koi8_fonts.tgz Arial, Times, Courier)
  • Place your cyrillic type1 fonts into /usr/share/fonts/gsfonts — this is default folder for ghostscript to find fonts
  • Create a copy of the original file before changing it:
 cd /usr/share/ghostscript/YOUR_VERSION/Resource/Init/
 cp Fontmap.GS Fontmap.GS.backup
  • Change ghostscript fontmap file to associate default fonts with cyrillic ones, using '%' to comment lines with default associations. Add 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