pod2man - Convert POD data to formatted *roff input


pod2man [--center=string] [--date=string] [--encoding=encoding] [--errors=style] [--fixed=font] [--fixedbold=font] [--fixeditalic=font] [--fixedbolditalic=font] [--guesswork=rule[,rule...]] [--name=name] [--nourls] [--official] [--release=version] [--section=manext] [--quotes=quotes] [--lquote=quote] [--rquote=quote] [--stderr] [--utf8] [--verbose] [input [output] ...]

pod2man --help


pod2man is a wrapper script around the Pod::Man module, 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).

By default (on non-EBCDIC systems), pod2man outputs UTF-8 manual pages. Its output should work with the man program on systems that use groff (most Linux distributions) or mandoc (most BSD variants), but may result in mangled output on older UNIX systems. To choose a different, possibly more backward-compatible output mangling on such systems, use --encoding=roff (the default in earlier Pod::Man versions). See the --encoding option and "ENCODING" in Pod::Man for more details.

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 for details.


Each option is annotated with the version of podlators in which that option was added with its current meaning.

-c string, --center=string

[1.00] Sets the centered page header for the .TH macro to string. The default is User Contributed Perl Documentation, but also see --official below.

-d string, --date=string

[4.00] Set the left-hand footer string for the .TH macro to string. By default, the first of POD_MAN_DATE, SOURCE_DATE_EPOCH, the modification date of the input file, or the current date (if input comes from STDIN) will be used, and the date will be in UTC. See "CLASS METHODS" in Pod::Man for more details.

-e encoding, --encoding=encoding

[5.00] Specifies the encoding of the output. encoding must be an encoding recognized by the Encode module (see Encode::Supported). The default on non-EBCDIC systems is UTF-8.

If the output contains characters that cannot be represented in this encoding, that is an error that will be reported as configured by the --errors option. If error handling is other than die, the unrepresentable character will be replaced with the Encode substitution character (normally ?).

If the encoding option is set to the special value groff (the default on EBCDIC systems), or if the Encode module is not available and the encoding is set to anything other than roff (see below), Pod::Man will translate all non-ASCII characters to \[uNNNN] Unicode escapes. These are not traditionally part of the *roff language, but are supported by groff and mandoc and thus by the majority of manual page processors in use today.

If encoding is set to the special value roff, pod2man will do its historic transformation of (some) ISO 8859-1 characters into *roff escapes that may be adequate in troff and may be readable (if ugly) in nroff. This was the default behavior of versions of pod2man before 5.00. With this encoding, all other non-ASCII characters will be replaced with X. It may be required for very old troff and nroff implementations that do not support UTF-8, but its representation of any non-ASCII character is very poor and often specific to European languages. Its use is discouraged.

WARNING: The input encoding of the POD source is independent from the output encoding, and setting this option does not affect the interpretation of the POD input. Unless your POD source is US-ASCII, its encoding should be declared with the =encoding command in the source. If this is not done, Pod::Simple will will attempt to guess the encoding and may be successful if it's Latin-1 or UTF-8, but it will produce warnings. See perlpod(1) for more information.


[2.5.0] Set the error handling style. die says to throw an exception on any POD formatting error. stderr says to report errors on standard error, but not to throw an exception. pod says to include a POD ERRORS section in the resulting documentation summarizing the errors. none ignores POD errors entirely, as much as possible.

The default is die.


[1.0] The fixed-width font to use for verbatim text and code. Defaults to CW. Some systems may want CR instead. Only matters for troff output.


[1.0] Bold version of the fixed-width font. Defaults to CB. Only matters for troff output.


[1.0] Italic version of the fixed-width font (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 output.


[1.0] Bold italic (in theory, probably oblique in practice) 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 output.


[5.00] By default, pod2man applies some default formatting rules based on guesswork and regular expressions that are intended to make writing Perl documentation easier and require less explicit markup. These rules may not always be appropriate, particularly for documentation that isn't about Perl. This option allows turning all or some of it off.

The special rule all enables all guesswork. This is also the default for backward compatibility reasons. The special rule none disables all guesswork. Otherwise, the value of this option should be a comma-separated list of one or more of the following keywords:


Convert function references like foo() to bold even if they have no markup. The function name accepts valid Perl characters for function names (including :), and the trailing parentheses must be present and empty.


Make the first part (before the parentheses) of man page references like foo(1) bold even if they have no markup. The section must be a single number optionally followed by lowercase letters.


If no guesswork is enabled, any text enclosed in C<> is surrounded by double quotes in nroff (terminal) output unless the contents are already quoted. When this guesswork is enabled, quote marks will also be suppressed for Perl variables, function names, function calls, numbers, and hex constants.


Convert Perl variable names to a fixed-width font even if they have no markup. This transformation will only be apparent in troff output, or some other output format (unlike nroff terminal output) that supports fixed-width fonts.

Any unknown guesswork name is silently ignored (for potential future compatibility), so be careful about spelling.

-h, --help

[1.00] Print out usage information.

-l, --lax

[1.00] 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.


[5.00] Add commands telling groff that the input file is in the given language. The value of this setting must be a language abbreviation for which groff provides supplemental configuration, such as ja (for Japanese) or zh (for Chinese).

This adds:

.mso <language>.tmac
.hla <language>

to the start of the file, which configure correct line breaking for the specified language. Without these commands, groff may not know how to add proper line breaks for Chinese and Japanese text if the man page is installed into the normal man page directory, such as /usr/share/man.

On many systems, this will be done automatically if the man page is installed into a language-specific man page directory, such as /usr/share/man/zh_CN. In that case, this option is not required.

Unfortunately, the commands added with this option are specific to groff and will not work with other troff and nroff implementations.


[4.08] Sets the quote marks used to surround C<> text. --lquote sets the left quote mark and --rquote sets the right quote mark. Either may also be set to the special value none, in which case no quote mark is added on that side of C<> text (but the font is still changed for troff output).

Also see the --quotes option, which can be used to set both quotes at once. If both --quotes and one of the other options is set, --lquote or --rquote overrides --quotes.

-n name, --name=name

[4.08] Set the name of the manual page for the .TH macro 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.

Although one does not have to follow this convention, be aware that the convention for UNIX manual pages is for the title to be in all-uppercase, even if the command isn't. (Perl modules traditionally use mixed case for the manual page title, however.)

This option is probably not useful when converting multiple POD files at once.

When converting POD source from standard input, the name will be set to STDIN if this option is not provided. Providing this option is strongly recommended to set a meaningful manual page name.


[2.5.0] Normally, L<> formatting codes with a URL but anchor text are formatted to show both the anchor text and the URL. In other words:


is formatted as:

foo <>

This flag, if given, suppresses the URL when anchor text is given, so this example would be formatted as just foo. This can produce less cluttered output in cases where the URLs are not particularly important.

-o, --official

[1.00] 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

[4.00] 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. Otherwise, it is split in half, and the first half of the string is used as the left quote and the second is used 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).

Also see the --lquote and --rquote options, which can be used to set the left and right quotes independently. If both --quotes and one of the other options is set, --lquote or --rquote overrides --quotes.

-r version, --release=version

[1.00] Set the centered footer for the .TH macro to version. By default, this is set to the version of Perl you run pod2man under. Setting this to the empty string will cause some *roff implementations to use the system default value.

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 for your target system, you may want to set --release to the last modified date and --date to the version number.

-s string, --section=string

[1.00] 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.


[2.1.3] By default, pod2man dies if any errors are detected in the POD input. If --stderr is given and no --errors flag is present, errors are sent to standard error, but pod2man does not abort. This is equivalent to --errors=stderr and is supported for backward compatibility.

-u, --utf8

[2.1.0] This option used to tell pod2man to produce UTF-8 output. Since this is now the default as of version 5.00, it is ignored and does nothing.

-v, --verbose

[1.11] Print out the name of each output file as it is being generated.


As long as all documents processed result in some output, even if that output includes errata (a POD ERRORS section generated with --errors=pod), pod2man will exit with status 0. If any of the documents being processed do not result in an output document, pod2man will exit with status 1. If there are syntax errors in a POD document being processed and the error handling style is set to the default of die, pod2man will abort immediately with exit status 255.


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 in:

troff -man -rF1 perl.1

The indexing merely outputs messages via .tm for each major page, section, subsection, item, and any X<> directives.


Russ Allbery <>, based on the original pod2man by Larry Wall and Tom Christiansen.


Copyright 1999-2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012-2019, 2022 Russ Allbery <>

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


Pod::Man, Pod::Simple, man(1), nroff(1), perlpod(1), podchecker(1), perlpodstyle(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.