man pages section 1: User Commands

Exit Print View

Updated: July 2014

pod2man (1)


pod2man - Convert POD data to formatted *roff input


pod2man [--center=string] [--date=string]
[--fixed=font] [--fixedbold=font] [--fixeditalic=font]
[--fixedbolditalic=font] [--name=name] [--official]
[--quotes=quotes] [--release[=version]]
[--section=manext] [--stderr] [--utf8] [--verbose]
[input [output] ...]

pod2man --help


Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

     pod2man - Convert POD data to formatted *roff input

     pod2man [--center=string] [--date=string]
         [--fixed=font] [--fixedbold=font] [--fixeditalic=font]
         [--fixedbolditalic=font] [--name=name] [--official]
         [--quotes=quotes] [--release[=version]]
         [--section=manext] [--stderr] [--utf8] [--verbose]
         [input [output] ...]

     pod2man --help

     pod2man is a front-end for Pod::Man, using it to generate
     *roff input from POD source.  The resulting *roff code is
     suitable for display on a terminal using nroff(1), normally
     via man(1), or printing using troff(1).

     input is the file to read for POD source (the POD can be
     embedded in code).  If input isn't given, it defaults to
     "STDIN".  output, if given, is the file to which to write
     the formatted output.  If output isn't given, the formatted
     output is written to "STDOUT".  Several POD files can be
     processed in the same pod2man invocation (saving module load
     and compile times) by providing multiple pairs of input and
     output files on the command line.

     --section, --release, --center, --date, and --official can
     be used to set the headers and footers to use; if not given,
     Pod::Man will assume various defaults.  See below or
     Pod::Man for details.

     pod2man assumes that your *roff formatters have a fixed-
     width font named "CW".  If yours is called something else
     (like "CR"), use --fixed to specify it.  This generally only
     matters for troff output for printing.  Similarly, you can
     set the fonts used for bold, italic, and bold italic fixed-
     width output.

     Besides the obvious pod conversions, Pod::Man, and therefore
     pod2man also takes care of formatting func(), func(n), and
     simple variable references like $foo or @bar so you don't
     have to use code escapes for them; complex expressions like
     $fred{'stuff'} will still need to be escaped, though.  It
     also translates dashes that aren't used as hyphens into en
     dashes, makes long dashes--like this--into proper em dashes,
     fixes "paired quotes," and takes care of several other
     troff-specific tweaks.  See Pod::Man for complete

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    1

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

     -c string, --center=string
         Sets the centered page header to string.  The default is
         "User Contributed Perl Documentation", but also see
         --official below.

     -d string, --date=string
         Set the left-hand footer string to this value.  By
         default, the modification date of the input file will be
         used, or the current date if input comes from "STDIN".

         The fixed-width font to use for verbatim text and code.
         Defaults to "CW".  Some systems may want "CR" instead.
         Only matters for troff(1) output.

         Bold version of the fixed-width font.  Defaults to "CB".
         Only matters for troff(1) output.

         Italic version of the fixed-width font (actually,
         something of a misnomer, since most fixed-width fonts
         only have an oblique version, not an italic version).
         Defaults to "CI".  Only matters for troff(1) output.

         Bold italic (probably actually oblique) version of the
         fixed-width font.  Pod::Man doesn't assume you have
         this, and defaults to "CB".  Some systems (such as
         Solaris) have this font available as "CX".  Only matters
         for troff(1) output.

     -h, --help
         Print out usage information.

     -l, --lax
         No longer used.  pod2man used to check its input for
         validity as a manual page, but this should now be done
         by podchecker(1) instead.  Accepted for backward
         compatibility; this option no longer does anything.

     -n name, --name=name
         Set the name of the manual page to name.  Without this
         option, the manual name is set to the uppercased base
         name of the file being converted unless the manual
         section is 3, in which case the path is parsed to see if
         it is a Perl module path.  If it is, a path like
         ".../lib/Pod/" is converted into a name like
         "Pod::Man".  This option, if given, overrides any
         automatic determination of the name.

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    2

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

         Note that this option is probably not useful when
         converting multiple POD files at once.  The convention
         for Unix man pages for commands is for the man page
         title to be in all-uppercase even if the command isn't.

     -o, --official
         Set the default header to indicate that this page is
         part of the standard Perl release, if --center is not
         also given.

     -q quotes, --quotes=quotes
         Sets the quote marks used to surround C<> text to
         quotes.  If quotes is a single character, it is used as
         both the left and right quote; if quotes is two
         characters, the first character is used as the left
         quote and the second as the right quoted; and if quotes
         is four characters, the first two are used as the left
         quote and the second two as the right quote.

         quotes may also be set to the special value "none", in
         which case no quote marks are added around C<> text (but
         the font is still changed for troff output).

     -r, --release
         Set the centered footer.  By default, this is the
         version of Perl you run pod2man under.  Note that some
         system an macro sets assume that the centered footer
         will be a modification date and will prepend something
         like "Last modified: "; if this is the case, you may
         want to set --release to the last modified date and
         --date to the version number.

     -s, --section
         Set the section for the ".TH" macro.  The standard
         section numbering convention is to use 1 for user
         commands, 2 for system calls, 3 for functions, 4 for
         devices, 5 for file formats, 6 for games, 7 for
         miscellaneous information, and 8 for administrator
         commands.  There is a lot of variation here, however;
         some systems (like Solaris) use 4 for file formats, 5
         for miscellaneous information, and 7 for devices.  Still
         others use 1m instead of 8, or some mix of both.  About
         the only section numbers that are reliably consistent
         are 1, 2, and 3.

         By default, section 1 will be used unless the file ends
         in ".pm", in which case section 3 will be selected.

         By default, pod2man puts any errors detected in the POD
         input in a POD ERRORS section in the output manual page.
         If --stderr is given, errors are sent to standard error

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    3

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

         instead and the POD ERRORS section is suppressed.

     -u, --utf8
         By default, pod2man produces the most conservative
         possible *roff output to try to ensure that it will work
         with as many different *roff implementations as
         possible.  Many *roff implementations cannot handle non-
         ASCII characters, so this means all non-ASCII characters
         are converted either to a *roff escape sequence that
         tries to create a properly accented character (at least
         for troff output) or to "X".

         This option says to instead output literal UTF-8
         characters.  If your *roff implementation can handle it,
         this is the best output format to use and avoids
         corruption of documents containing non-ASCII characters.
         However, be warned that *roff source with literal UTF-8
         characters is not supported by many implementations and
         may even result in segfaults and other bad behavior.

         Be aware that, when using this option, the input
         encoding of your POD source must be properly declared
         unless it is US-ASCII or Latin-1.  POD input without an
         "=encoding" command will be assumed to be in Latin-1,
         and if it's actually in UTF-8, the output will be
         double-encoded.  See perlpod(1) for more information on
         the "=encoding" command.

     -v, --verbose
         Print out the name of each output file as it is being

     If pod2man fails with errors, see Pod::Man and Pod::Simple
     for information about what those errors might mean.

         pod2man program > program.1
         pod2man /usr/perl/man/man3/SomeModule.3
         pod2man --section=7 note.pod > note.7

     If you would like to print out a lot of man page
     continuously, you probably want to set the C and D registers
     to set contiguous page numbering and even/odd paging, at
     least on some versions of man(7).

         troff -man -rC1 -rD1 perl.1 perldata.1 perlsyn.1 ...

     To get index entries on "STDERR", turn on the F register, as

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    4

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

         troff -man -rF1 perl.1

     The indexing merely outputs messages via ".tm" for each
     major page, section, subsection, item, and any "X<>"
     directives.  See Pod::Man for more details.

     Lots of this documentation is duplicated from Pod::Man.

     See attributes(5) for descriptions of the following

     |Availability   | runtime/perl-512 |
     |Stability      | Uncommitted      |
     For those not sure of the proper layout of a man page, here
     are some notes on writing a proper man page.

     The name of the program being documented is conventionally
     written in bold (using B<>) wherever it occurs, as are all
     program options.  Arguments should be written in italics
     (I<>).  Functions are traditionally written in italics; if
     you write a function as function(), Pod::Man will take care
     of this for you.  Literal code or commands should be in C<>.
     References to other man pages should be in the form
     "manpage(section)", and Pod::Man will automatically format
     those appropriately.  As an exception, it's traditional not
     to use this form when referring to module documentation; use
     "L<Module::Name>" instead.

     References to other programs or functions are normally in
     the form of man page references so that cross-referencing
     tools can provide the user with links and the like.  It's
     possible to overdo this, though, so be careful not to
     clutter your documentation with too much markup.

     The major headers should be set out using a "=head1"
     directive, and are historically written in the rather
     startling ALL UPPER CASE format, although this is not
     mandatory.  Minor headers may be included using "=head2",
     and are typically in mixed case.

     The standard sections of a manual page are:


perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    5

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

         Mandatory section; should be a comma-separated list of
         programs or functions documented by this POD page, such

             foo, bar - programs to do something

         Manual page indexers are often extremely picky about the
         format of this section, so don't put anything in it
         except this line.  A single dash, and only a single
         dash, should separate the list of programs or functions
         from the description.  Do not use any markup such as C<>
         or B<>.  Functions should not be qualified with "()" or
         the like.  The description should ideally fit on a
         single line, even if a man program replaces the dash
         with a few tabs.

         A short usage summary for programs and functions.  This
         section is mandatory for section 3 pages.

         Extended description and discussion of the program or
         functions, or the body of the documentation for man
         pages that document something else.  If particularly
         long, it's a good idea to break this up into subsections
         "=head2" directives like:

             =head2 Normal Usage

             =head2 Advanced Features

             =head2 Writing Configuration Files

         or whatever is appropriate for your documentation.

         Detailed description of each of the command-line options
         taken by the program.  This should be separate from the
         description for the use of things like Pod::Usage.  This
         is normally presented as a list, with each option as a
         separate "=item".  The specific option string should be
         enclosed in B<>.  Any values that the option takes
         should be enclosed in I<>.  For example, the section for
         the option --section=manext would be introduced with:

             =item B<--section>=I<manext>

         Synonymous options (like both the short and long forms)
         are separated by a comma and a space on the same "=item"
         line, or optionally listed as their own item with a
         reference to the canonical name.  For example, since
         --section can also be written as -s, the above would be:

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    6

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

             =item B<-s> I<manext>, B<--section>=I<manext>

         (Writing the short option first is arguably easier to
         read, since the long option is long enough to draw the
         eye to it anyway and the short option can otherwise get
         lost in visual noise.)

         What the program or function returns, if successful.
         This section can be omitted for programs whose precise
         exit codes aren't important, provided they return 0 on
         success as is standard.  It should always be present for

         Exceptions, error return codes, exit statuses, and errno
         settings.  Typically used for function documentation;
         program documentation uses DIAGNOSTICS instead.  The
         general rule of thumb is that errors printed to "STDOUT"
         or "STDERR" and intended for the end user are documented
         in DIAGNOSTICS while errors passed internal to the
         calling program and intended for other programmers are
         documented in ERRORS.  When documenting a function that
         sets errno, a full list of the possible errno values
         should be given here.

         All possible messages the program can print out--and
         what they mean.  You may wish to follow the same
         documentation style as the Perl documentation; see
         perldiag(1) for more details (and look at the POD source
         as well).

         If applicable, please include details on what the user
         should do to correct the error; documenting an error as
         indicating "the input buffer is too small" without
         telling the user how to increase the size of the input
         buffer (or at least telling them that it isn't possible)
         aren't very useful.

         Give some example uses of the program or function.
         Don't skimp; users often find this the most useful part
         of the documentation.  The examples are generally given
         as verbatim paragraphs.

         Don't just present an example without explaining what it
         does.  Adding a short paragraph saying what the example
         will do can increase the value of the example immensely.

         Environment variables that the program cares about,

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    7

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

         normally presented as a list using "=over", "=item", and
         "=back".  For example:

             =over 6

             =item HOME

             Used to determine the user's home directory.  F<.foorc> in this
             directory is read for configuration details, if it exists.


         Since environment variables are normally in all
         uppercase, no additional special formatting is generally
         needed; they're glaring enough as it is.

         All files used by the program or function, normally
         presented as a list, and what it uses them for.  File
         names should be enclosed in F<>.  It's particularly
         important to document files that will be potentially

         Things to take special care with, sometimes called

         Things that are broken or just don't work quite right.

         Bugs you don't plan to fix.  :-)

         Miscellaneous commentary.

         Who wrote it (use AUTHORS for multiple people).
         Including your current e-mail address (or some e-mail
         address to which bug reports should be sent) so that
         users have a way of contacting you is a good idea.
         Remember that program documentation tends to roam the
         wild for far longer than you expect and pick an e-mail
         address that's likely to last if possible.

         Programs derived from other sources sometimes have this,
         or you might keep a modification log here.  If the log
         gets overly long or detailed, consider maintaining it in
         a separate file, though.


perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    8

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

         For copyright

             Copyright YEAR(s) by YOUR NAME(s)

         (No, (C) is not needed.  No, "all rights reserved" is
         not needed.)

         For licensing the easiest way is to use the same
         licensing as Perl itself:

             This library is free software; you may redistribute it and/or modify
             it under the same terms as Perl itself.

         This makes it easy for people to use your module with
         Perl.  Note that this licensing is neither an
         endorsement or a requirement, you are of course free to
         choose any licensing.

         Other man pages to check out, like man(1), man(7),
         makewhatis(8), or catman(8).  Normally a simple list of
         man pages separated by commas, or a paragraph giving the
         name of a reference work.  Man page references, if they
         use the standard "name(section)" form, don't have to be
         enclosed in L<> (although it's recommended), but other
         things in this section probably should be when

         If the package has a mailing list, include a URL or
         subscription instructions here.

         If the package has a web site, include a URL here.

     In addition, some systems use CONFORMING TO to note
     conformance to relevant standards and MT-LEVEL to note
     safeness for use in threaded programs or signal handlers.
     These headings are primarily useful when documenting parts
     of a C library.  Documentation of object-oriented libraries
     or modules may use CONSTRUCTORS and METHODS sections for
     detailed documentation of the parts of the library and save
     the DESCRIPTION section for an overview; other large modules
     may use FUNCTIONS for similar reasons.  Some people use
     OVERVIEW to summarize the description if it's quite long.

     Section ordering varies, although NAME should always be the
     first section (you'll break some man page systems
     otherwise), and NAME, SYNOPSIS, DESCRIPTION, and OPTIONS
     generally always occur first and in that order if present.
     In general, SEE ALSO, AUTHOR, and similar material should be
     left for last.  Some systems also move WARNINGS and NOTES to
     last.  The order given above should be reasonable for most

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                    9

Perl Programmers Reference Guide                       POD2MAN(1)

     Finally, as a general note, try not to use an excessive
     amount of markup.  As documented here and in Pod::Man, you
     can safely leave Perl variables, function names, man page
     references, and the like unadorned by markup and the POD
     translators will figure it out for you.  This makes it much
     easier to later edit the documentation.  Note that many
     existing translators (including this one currently) will do
     the wrong thing with e-mail addresses when wrapped in L<>,
     so don't do that.

     For additional information that may be more accurate for
     your specific system, see either man(5) or man(7) depending
     on your system manual section numbering conventions.

     Pod::Man, Pod::Simple, man(1), nroff(1), perlpod(1),
     podchecker(1), troff(1), man(7)

     The man page documenting the an macro set may be man(5)
     instead of man(7) on your system.

     The current version of this script is always available from
     its web site at
     <>.  It is
     also part of the Perl core distribution as of 5.6.0.

     Russ Allbery <>, based very heavily on the
     original pod2man by Larry Wall and Tom Christiansen.  Large
     portions of this documentation, particularly the sections on
     the anatomy of a proper man page, are taken from the pod2man
     documentation by Tom.

     Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008 Russ Allbery

     This program is free software; you may redistribute it
     and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

     This software was built from source available at  The original
     community source was downloaded from

     Further information about this software can be found on the
     open source community website at

perl v5.12.5         Last change: 2014-06-17                   10