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File: woman,  Node: Top,  Next: Introduction,  Prev: (dir),  Up: (dir)

WoMan: Browse Unix Manual Pages "W.O. (without) Man"

     Software Version 0.54 (beta)
     Manual Last Updated Time-stamp: <2009-02-16 09:25:50 karl>

     Francis J. Wright <>
     School of Mathematical Sciences (
     Queen Mary and Westfield College (University of London)
     Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, UK

This file documents WoMan: A program to browse Unix manual pages `W.O.
(without) man'.

Copyright (C) 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Free
Software Foundation, Inc.

     Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this
     document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License,
     Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software
     Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover texts
     being "A GNU Manual," and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a)
     below.  A copy of the license is included in the section entitled
     "GNU Free Documentation License."

     (a) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is: "You have the freedom to copy and
     modify this GNU manual.  Buying copies from the FSF supports it in
     developing GNU and promoting software freedom."

* Menu:

* Introduction::        Introduction
* Background::          Background
* Finding::             Finding and Formatting Man Pages
* Browsing::            Browsing Man Pages
* Customization::       Customization
* Log::                 The *WoMan-Log* Buffer
* Technical::           Technical Details
* Bugs::                Reporting Bugs
* Acknowledgements::    Acknowledgements
* GNU Free Documentation License:: The license for this documentation.
* Command Index::       Command Index
* Variable Index::      Variable Index
* Keystroke Index::     Keystroke Index
* Concept Index::       Concept Index

File: woman,  Node: Introduction,  Next: Background,  Prev: Top,  Up: Top

1 Introduction

This version of WoMan should run with GNU Emacs 20.3 or later on any
platform.  It has not been tested, and may not run, with any other
version of Emacs.  It was developed primarily on various versions of
Microsoft Windows, but has also been tested on MS-DOS, and various
versions of UNIX and GNU/Linux.

WoMan is distributed with GNU Emacs.  In addition, the current source
code and documentation files are available from the WoMan web server

WoMan implements a subset of the formatting performed by the Emacs
`man' (or `manual-entry') command to format a Unix-style "manual page"
(usually abbreviated to "man page") for display, but without calling
any external programs.  It is intended to emulate the whole of the
`roff -man' macro package, plus those `roff' requests (*note
Background: Background.) that are most commonly used in man pages.
However, the emulation is modified to include the reformatting done by
the Emacs `man' command.  No hyphenation is performed.

     Much more direct, does not require any external programs.  Supports
     completion on man page names.

     Not a complete emulation.  Currently no support for `eqn' or
     `tbl'.  Slightly slower for large man pages (but usually faster for
     small- and medium-size pages).

This browser works quite well on simple well-written man files.  It
works less well on idiosyncratic files that "break the rules" or use
the more obscure `roff' requests directly.  Current test results are
available in the file `woman.status'

WoMan supports the use of compressed man files via
`auto-compression-mode' by turning it on if necessary.  But you may
need to adjust the user option `woman-file-compression-regexp'.  *Note
Interface Options: Interface Options.

Brief help on the WoMan interactive commands and user options, all of
which begin with the prefix `woman-' (or occasionally `WoMan-'), is
available most easily by loading WoMan and then either running the
command `woman-mini-help' or selecting the WoMan menu option `Mini

WoMan is (of course) still under development!  Please let me know
<> what doesn't work--I am adding and improving
functionality as testing shows that it is necessary.  Guidance on
reporting bugs is given below.  *Note Reporting Bugs: Bugs.

File: woman,  Node: Background,  Next: Finding,  Prev: Introduction,  Up: Top

2 Background

WoMan is a browser for traditional Unix-style manual page documentation.
Each such document is conventionally referred to as a "manual page", or
"man page" for short, even though some are very much longer than one
page.  A man page is a document written using the Unix "man" macros,
which are themselves written in the nroff/troff text processing markup
language.  `nroff' and `troff' are text processors originally written
for the UNIX operating system by Joseph F. Ossanna at Bell
Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA.  They are closely related,
and except in the few cases where the distinction between them is
important I will refer to them both ambiguously as `roff'.

`roff' markup consists of "requests" and "escape sequences".  A request
occupies a complete line and begins with either a period or a single
forward quote.  An escape sequences is embedded within the input text
and begins (by default) with a backslash.  The original man macro
package defines 20 new `roff' requests implemented as macros, which
were considered to be sufficient for writing man pages.  But whilst in
principle man pages use only the man macros, in practice a significant
number use many other `roff' requests.

The distinction between `troff' and `nroff' is that `troff' was
designed to drive a phototypesetter whereas `nroff' was designed to
produce essentially ASCII output for a character-based device similar
to a teletypewriter (usually abbreviated to "teletype" or "tty").
Hence, `troff' supports much finer control over output positioning than
does `nroff' and can be seen as a forerunner of TeX.  Traditionally,
man pages are either formatted by `troff' for typesetting or by `nroff'
for printing on a character printer or displaying on a screen.  Of
course, over the last 25 years or so, the distinction between typeset
output on paper and characters on a screen has become blurred by the
fact that most screens now support bit-mapped displays, so that any
information that can be printed can also be rendered on screen, the
only difference being the resolution.

Nevertheless, Unix-style manual page documentation is still normally
browsed on screen by running a program called `man'.  This program
looks in a predefined set of directories for the man page matching a
specified topic, then either formats the source file by running `nroff'
or recovers a pre-formatted file, and displays it via a pager such as
`more'.  `nroff' normally formats for a printer, so it paginates the
output, numbers the pages, etc., most of which is irrelevant when the
document is browsed as a continuous scrollable document on screen.  The
only concession to on-screen browsing normally implemented by the `man'
program is to squeeze consecutive blank lines into a single blank line.

For some time, Emacs has offered an improved interface for browsing man
pages in the form of the Emacs `man' (or `manual-entry') command, see
*note man: (emacs)Documentation.  This command runs `man' as described
above, perhaps in the background, and then post-processes the output to
remove much of the `nroff' pagination such as page headers and footers,
and places the result into an Emacs buffer.  It puts this buffer into a
special major mode, which is tailored for man page browsing, and
provides a number of useful navigation commands, support for following
references, etc.  It provides some support for special display faces
(fonts), but no special menu or mouse support.  The Emacs man package
appears to have been developed over about 10 years, from the late 1980s
to the late 1990s.

There is considerable inefficiency in having `nroff' paginate a
document and then removing most of the pagination!

WoMan is an Emacs Lisp library that provides an emulation of the
functionality of the Emacs `man' command, the main difference being
that WoMan does not use any external programs.  The only situation in
which WoMan might use an external program is when the source file is
compressed, when WoMan will use the standard Emacs automatic
decompression facility, which does call an external program.

I began developing WoMan in the Spring of 1997 and the first version was
released in May 1997.  The original motivation for WoMan was the fact
that many GNU and Unix programs are ported to other platforms and come
with Unix-style manual page documentation.  This may be difficult to
read because ports of the Unix-style `man' program can be a little
awkward to set up.  I decided that it should not be too hard to emulate
the 20 `man' macros directly, without treating them as macros and
largely ignoring the underlying `roff' requests, given the text
processing capabilities of Emacs.  This proved to be essentially true,
and it did not take a great deal of work to be able to format simple man
pages acceptably.

One problem arose with the significant number of man pages that use
`roff' requests in addition to the `man' macros, and since releasing
the first version of WoMan I have been continually extending it to
support more `roff' requests.  WoMan can now format a significant
proportion of the man pages that I have tested, either well or at least
readably.  However, I have added capabilities partly by making
additional passes through the document, a design that is fundamentally
flawed.  This can only be solved by a major re-design of WoMan to
handle the major formatting within a single recursive pass, rather than
the present multiple passes without any significant recursion.  There
are some `roff' requests that cannot be handled satisfactorily within
the present design.  Some of these are currently handled by kludges
that "usually more or less work."

The principle advantage of WoMan is that it does not require `man', and
indeed the name WoMan is a contraction of "without man."  But it has
other advantages.  It does not paginate the document, so it does not
need to un-paginate it again, thereby saving time.  It could take full
advantage of the display capabilities available to it, and I hope to
develop WoMan to take advantage of developments in Emacs itself.  At
present, WoMan uses several display faces to support bold and italic
text, to indicate other fonts, etc.  The default faces are also
colored, but the choice of faces is customizable.  WoMan provides menu
support for navigation and mouse support for following references, in
addition to the navigation facilities provided by `man' mode.  WoMan
has (this) texinfo documentation!

WoMan _does not_ replace `man', although it does use a number of the
facilities implemented in the Emacs `man' library.  WoMan and man can
happily co-exist, which is very useful for comparison and debugging

`nroff' simulates non-ASCII characters by using one or more ASCII
characters.  WoMan should be able to do much better than this.  I have
recently begun to add support for WoMan to use more of the characters
in its default font and to use a symbol font, and it is an aspect that
I intend to develop further in the near future.  It should be possible
to move WoMan from an emulation of `nroff' to an emulation of `troff'
as GNU Emacs moves to providing bit-mapped display facilities.

File: woman,  Node: Finding,  Next: Browsing,  Prev: Background,  Up: Top

3 Finding and Formatting Man Pages

WoMan provides three user interfaces for finding and formatting man

   * a topic interface similar to that provided by the standard Emacs
     `man' command;

   * a family of filename interfaces analogous to the standard Emacs
     `view-file' command;

   * an automatic interface that detects the file type from its
     contents.  (This is currently neither well tested, well supported
     nor recommended!)

The topic and filename interfaces support completion in the usual way.

The topic interface is generally the most convenient for regular use,
although it may require some special setup, especially if your machine
does not already have a conventional `man' installation (which WoMan
tries to detect).

The simplest filename interface command `woman-find-file' can always be
used with no setup at all (provided WoMan is installed and loaded or
set up to autoload).

The automatic interface always requires special setup.

Case-Dependence of Filenames

By default, WoMan ignores case in file pathnames only when it seems
appropriate.  Microsoft Windows users who want complete case
independence should set the special NTEmacs variable
`w32-downcase-file-names' to `t' and use all lower case when setting
WoMan file paths.

* Menu:

* Topic::               Topic Interface
* Filename::            Filename Interface
* Automatic::           Automatic Interface

File: woman,  Node: Topic,  Next: Filename,  Prev: Finding,  Up: Finding

3.1 Topic Interface

The topic interface is accessed principally via the command `woman'.
The same command can be accessed via the menu item `Help->Manuals->Read
Man Page (WoMan)...' once WoMan has been loaded.  The command reads a
manual topic in the minibuffer, which can be the "basename" of a man
file anywhere in the man file structure.  The "basename" in this
context means the filename without any directory component and without
any extension or suffix components that relate to the file type.  So,
for example, if there is a compressed source file in Chapter 5 of the
UNIX Programmer's Manual with the full pathname
`/usr/local/man/man5/man.conf.5.gz' then the topic is `man.conf'.
Provided WoMan is configured correctly, this topic will appear among
the completions offered by `woman'.  If more than one file has the same
topic name then WoMan will prompt for which file to format.  Completion
of topics is case insensitive.

Clearly, `woman' has to know where to look for man files and there are
two customizable user options that store this information:
`woman-manpath' and `woman-path'.  *Note Interface Options: Interface
Options.  If `woman-manpath' is not set explicitly then WoMan tries to
pick up the information that would be used by the `man' command, as
follows.  If the environment variable `MANPATH' is set, which seems to
be the standard mechanism under UNIX, then WoMan parses that.
Otherwise, if WoMan can find a configuration file named (by default)
`man.conf' (or something very similar), which seems to be the standard
mechanism under GNU/Linux, then it parses that.  To be precise,
"something very similar" means starting with `man' and ending with
`.conf' and possibly more lowercase letters, e.g.
`manual.configuration'.  The search path and/or precise full path name
for this file are set by the value of the customizable user option
`woman-man.conf-path'.  If all else fails, WoMan uses a plausible
default man search path.

If the above default configuration does not work correctly for any
reason then simply customize the value of `woman-manpath'.  To access
man files that are not in a conventional man file hierarchy, customize
the value of `woman-path' to include the directories containing the
files.  In this way, `woman' can access manual files _anywhere_ in the
entire file system.

There are two differences between `woman-manpath' and `woman-path'.
Firstly, the elements of `woman-manpath' must be directories that
contain _directories of_ man files, whereas the elements of
`woman-path' must be directories that contain man files _directly_.
Secondly, the last directory component of each element of `woman-path'
is treated as a regular (Emacs) match expression rather than a fixed
name, which allows collections of related directories to be specified
succinctly.  Also, elements of `woman-manpath' can be conses,
indicating a mapping from `PATH' environment variable components to man
directory hierarchies.

For topic completion to work, WoMan must build a list of all the manual
files that it can access, which can be very slow, especially if a
network is involved.  For this reason, it caches various amounts of
information, after which retrieving it from the cache is very fast.  If
the cache ever gets out of synchronism with reality, running the
`woman' command with a prefix argument (e.g. `C-u M-x woman') will
force it to rebuild its cache.  This is necessary only if the names or
locations of any man files change; it is not necessary if only their
contents change.  It would always be necessary if such a change occurred
whilst Emacs were running and after WoMan has been loaded.  It may be
necessary if such a change occurs between Emacs sessions and persistent
caching is used, although WoMan can detect some changes that invalidate
its cache and rebuild it automatically.

Customize the variable `woman-cache-filename' to save the cache between
Emacs sessions.  This is recommended only if the `woman' command is too
slow the first time it is run in an Emacs session, while it builds its
cache in main memory, which _may_ be _very_ slow.  *Note The WoMan
Topic Cache: Cache, for further details.

* Menu:

* Cache::               The WoMan Topic Cache
* Word at point::       Using the ``Word at Point'' as a Topic Suggestion

File: woman,  Node: Cache,  Next: Word at point,  Prev: Topic,  Up: Topic

3.1.1 The WoMan Topic Cache

The amount of information that WoMan caches (in main memory and,
optionally, saved to disc) is controlled by the user option
`woman-cache-level'.  There is a trade-off between the speed with which
WoMan can find a file and the size of the cache, and the default
setting gives a reasonable compromise.

The `woman' command always performs a certain amount of caching in main
memory, but it can also write its cache to the filestore as a
persistent cache under control of the user option
`woman-cache-filename'.  If persistent caching is turned on then WoMan
re-loads its internal cache from the cache file almost instantaneously,
so that there is never any perceptible start-up delay _except_ when
WoMan rebuilds its cache.  Persistent caching is currently turned off
by default.  This is because users with persistent caching turned on
may overlook the need to force WoMan to rebuild its cache the first
time they run it after they have installed new man files; with
persistent caching turned off, WoMan automatically rebuilds its cache
every time it is run in a new Emacs session.

A prefix argument always causes the `woman' command (only) to rebuild
its topic cache, and to re-save it to `woman-cache-filename' if this
variable has a non-`nil' value.  This is necessary if the _names_ of
any of the directories or files in the paths specified by
`woman-manpath' or `woman-path' change.  If WoMan user options that
affect the cache are changed then WoMan will automatically update its
cache file on disc (if one is in use) the next time it is run in a new
Emacs session.

File: woman,  Node: Word at point,  Prev: Cache,  Up: Topic

3.1.2 Using the "Word at Point" as a Topic Suggestion

By default, the `woman' command uses the word nearest to point in the
current buffer as a suggestion for the topic to look up, if it exists
as a valid topic.  The topic can be confirmed or edited in the

You can also bind the variable `woman-use-topic-at-point' locally to a
non-`nil' value (using `let'), in which case `woman' will can use the
suggested topic without confirmation if possible.  This may be useful
to provide special private key bindings, e.g. this key binding for `C-c
w' runs WoMan on the topic at point without seeking confirmation:

     (global-set-key "\C-cw"
                     (lambda ()
                       (let ((woman-use-topic-at-point t))

File: woman,  Node: Filename,  Next: Automatic,  Prev: Topic,  Up: Finding

3.2 Filename Interface

The commands in this family are completely independent of the topic
interface, caching mechanism, etc.

The filename interface is accessed principally via the extended command
`woman-find-file', which is available without any configuration at all
(provided WoMan is installed and loaded or set up to autoload).  This
command can be used to browse any accessible man file, regardless of
its filename or location.  If the file is compressed then automatic
file decompression must already be turned on (e.g. see the
`Help->Options' submenu)--it is turned on automatically only by the
`woman' topic interface.

Once WoMan is loaded (or if specially set up), various additional
commands in this family are available.  In a dired buffer, the command
`woman-dired-find-file' allows the file on the same line as point to be
formatted and browsed by WoMan.  It is bound to the key `W' in the
dired mode map and added to the dired major mode menu.  It may also be
bound to `w', unless this key is bound by another library, which it is
by `dired-x', for example.  Because it is quite likely that other
libraries will extend the capabilities of such a commonly used mode as
dired, the precise key bindings added by WoMan to the dired mode map
are controlled by the user option `woman-dired-keys'.

When a tar (Tape ARchive) file is visited in Emacs, it is opened in tar
mode, which parses the tar file and shows a dired-like view of its
contents.  The WoMan command `woman-tar-extract-file' allows the file
on the same line as point to be formatted and browsed by WoMan.  It is
bound to the key `w' in the tar mode map and added to the tar major
mode menu.

The command `woman-reformat-last-file', which is bound to the key `R'
in WoMan mode and available on the major mode menu, reformats the last
file formatted by WoMan.  This may occasionally be useful if formatting
parameters, such as the fill column, are changed, or perhaps if the
buffer is somehow corrupted.

The command `woman-decode-buffer' can be used to decode and browse the
current buffer if it is visiting a man file, although it is primarily
used internally by WoMan.

File: woman,  Node: Automatic,  Prev: Filename,  Up: Finding

3.3 Automatic Interface

Emacs provides an interface to detect automatically the format of a file
and decode it when it is visited.  It is used primarily by the
facilities for editing rich (i.e. formatted) text, as a way to store
formatting information transparently as ASCII markup.  WoMan can in
principle use this interface, but it must be configured explicitly.

This use of WoMan does not seem to be particularly advantageous, so it
is not really supported.  It originated during early experiments on how
best to implement WoMan, before I implemented the current topic
interface, and I subsequently stopped using it.  I might revive it as a
mechanism for storing pre-formatted WoMan files, somewhat analogous to
the standard Unix `catman' facility.  In the meantime, it exists for
anyone who wants to experiment with it.  Once it is set up it is simply
a question of visiting the file and there is no WoMan-specific user

To use it, put something like this in your `.emacs' file.  [The call to
`set-visited-file-name' is to avoid font-locking triggered by automatic
major mode selection.]

     (autoload 'woman-decode-region "woman")

     (add-to-list 'format-alist
                  '(man "Unix man-page source format" "\\.\\(TH\\|ig\\) "
                        woman-decode-region nil nil
                        (lambda (arg)
                          (file-name-sans-extension buffer-file-name))))

File: woman,  Node: Browsing,  Next: Customization,  Prev: Finding,  Up: Top

4 Browsing Man Pages

Once a man page has been found and formatted, WoMan provides a browsing
interface that is essentially the same as that provided by the standard
Emacs `man' command (and much of the code is inherited from the `man'
library, which WoMan currently requires).  Many WoMan facilities can be
accessed from the WoMan major mode menu as well as via key bindings,

WoMan does not produce any page breaks or page numbers, and in fact does
not paginate the man page at all, since this is not appropriate for
continuous online browsing.  It produces a document header line that is
constructed from the standard man page header and footer.  Apart from
that, the appearance of the formatted man page should be almost
identical to what would be produced by `man', with consecutive blank
lines squeezed to a single blank line.

* Menu:

* Fonts::               Fonts and Faces
* Navigation::          Navigation
* References::          Following References
* Changing::            Changing the Current Man Page
* Convenience::         Convenience Key Bindings
* Imenu::               Imenu Support; Contents Menu

File: woman,  Node: Fonts,  Next: Navigation,  Prev: Browsing,  Up: Browsing

4.1 Fonts and Faces

Fonts used by `roff' are handled by WoMan as faces, the details of
which are customizable.  *Note Faces: Faces.  WoMan supports both the
italic and bold fonts normally used in man pages, together with a single
face to represent all unknown fonts (which are occasionally used in
"non-standard" man pages, usually to represent a "typewriter" font) and
a face to indicate additional symbols introduced by WoMan.  This
currently means the characters ^ and _ used to indicate super- and
sub-scripts, which are not displayed well by WoMan.

File: woman,  Node: Navigation,  Next: References,  Prev: Fonts,  Up: Browsing

4.2 Navigation

Man (and hence WoMan) mode can be thought of as a superset of view mode.
The buffer cannot be edited, so keys that would normally self-insert are
used for navigation.  The WoMan key bindings are a minor modification of
the `man' key bindings.

     Scroll the man page up the window (`scroll-up').

     Scroll the man page down the window (`scroll-down').

     Move point to the Nth next section--default 1 (`Man-next-section').

     Move point to Nth previous section--default 1

     Move point to the specified section (`Man-goto-section').

     Move point to the "SEE ALSO" section
     (`Man-goto-see-also-section').  Actually the section moved to is
     described by `Man-see-also-regexp'.

File: woman,  Node: References,  Next: Changing,  Prev: Navigation,  Up: Browsing

4.3 Following References

Man pages usually contain a "SEE ALSO" section containing references to
other man pages.  If these man pages are installed then WoMan can
easily be directed to follow the reference, i.e. to find and format the
man page.  When the mouse is passed over a correctly formatted reference
it is highlighted, in which case clicking the middle button `Mouse-2'
will cause WoMan to follow the reference.  Alternatively, when point is
over such a reference the key <RET> will follow the reference.

Any word in the buffer can be used as a reference by clicking `Mouse-2'
over it provided the Meta key is also used (although in general such a
"reference" will not lead to a man page).  Alternatively, the key `r'
allows completion to be used to select a reference to follow, based on
the word at point as default.

     Run WoMan with word under mouse as topic (`woman-mouse-2').  The
     word must be mouse-highlighted unless `woman-mouse-2' is used with
     the Meta key.

     Get the man page for the topic under (or nearest to) point

     Get one of the man pages referred to in the "SEE ALSO" section
     (`Man-follow-manual-reference').  Specify which reference to use;
     default is based on word at point.

File: woman,  Node: Changing,  Next: Convenience,  Prev: References,  Up: Browsing

4.4 Changing the Current Man Page

The man page currently being browsed by WoMan can be changed in several
ways.  The command `woman' can be invoked to format another man page,
or the current WoMan buffer can be buried or killed.  WoMan maintains a
ring of formatted man pages, and it is possible to move forwards and
backwards in this ring by moving to the next or previous man page.  It
is sometimes useful to reformat the current page, for example after the
right margin (the wrap column) or some other formatting parameter has
been changed.

Buffers formatted by Man and WoMan are completely unrelated, even though
some of the commands to manipulate them are superficially the same (and
share code).

     Run the command `man' to get a Un*x manual page and put it in a
     buffer.  This command is the top-level command in the man package.
     It runs a Un*x command to retrieve and clean a man page in the
     background and places the results in a Man mode (man page
     browsing) buffer.  If a man buffer already exists for this man
     page, it will display immediately.  This works exactly the same if
     WoMan is loaded, except that the formatting time is displayed in
     the mini-buffer.

     Run the command `woman' exactly as if the extended command or menu
     item had been used.

     Bury the buffer containing the current man page (`Man-quit'), i.e.
     move it to the bottom of the buffer stack.

     Kill the buffer containing the current man page (`Man-kill'), i.e.
     delete it completely so that it can be retrieved only by formatting
     the page again.

     Find the previous WoMan buffer (`WoMan-previous-manpage').

     Find the next WoMan buffer (`WoMan-next-manpage').

     Call WoMan to reformat the last man page formatted by WoMan
     (`woman-reformat-last-file'), e.g. after changing the fill column.

File: woman,  Node: Convenience,  Next: Imenu,  Prev: Changing,  Up: Browsing

4.5 Convenience Key Bindings

     Begin a negative numeric argument for the next command

`0 .. 9'
     Part of the numeric argument for the next command

     Move point to the beginning of the buffer; leave mark at previous
     position (`beginning-of-buffer').

     Move point to the end of the buffer; leave mark at previous
     position (`end-of-buffer').

     Display documentation of current major mode and minor modes
     (`describe-mode').  The major mode description comes first,
     followed by the minor modes, each on a separate page.

File: woman,  Node: Imenu,  Prev: Convenience,  Up: Browsing

4.6 Imenu Support; Contents Menu

The WoMan menu provides an option to make a contents menu for the
current man page (using `imenu').  Alternatively, if you customize the
option `woman-imenu' to `t' then WoMan will do it automatically for
every man page.  The menu title is set by the option
`woman-imenu-title', which is "CONTENTS" by default.  The menu shows
manual sections and subsections by default, but you can change this by
customizing `woman-imenu-generic-expression'.

WoMan is configured not to replace spaces in an imenu `*Completion*'
buffer.  For further documentation on the use of imenu, such as menu
sorting, see the source file `imenu.el', which is distributed with GNU

File: woman,  Node: Customization,  Next: Log,  Prev: Browsing,  Up: Top

5 Customization

All WoMan user options are customizable, and it is recommended to
change them only via the standard Emacs customization facilities.
WoMan defines a top-level customization group called `WoMan' under the
parent group `Help'.  It can be accessed either via the standard Emacs
facilities, e.g. via the `Help->Customize' submenu, or via the WoMan
major mode menu.

The top-level WoMan group contains only a few general options and three
subgroups.  The hooks are provided only for special purposes that, for
example, require code to be executed, and should be changed only via
`Customization' or the function `add-hook'.  Most customization should
be possible via existing user options.

     A boolean value that defaults to `nil'.  If non-`nil' then show the
     `*WoMan-Log*' buffer if appropriate, i.e. if any warning messages
     are written to it.  *Note The *WoMan-Log* Buffer: Log.

     A hook run immediately before formatting a buffer.  It might, for
     example, be used for face customization.  *Note Faces: Faces,

     A hook run immediately after formatting a buffer.  It might, for
     example, be used for installing a dynamic menu using `imenu'.
     (However. in this case it is better to use the built-in WoMan
     `imenu' support.  *Note Imenu Support; Contents Menu: Imenu.)

Customization Subgroups

`WoMan Interface'
     These options control the process of locating the appropriate file
     to browse, and the appearance of the browsing interface.

`WoMan Formatting'
     These options control the layout that WoMan uses to format the man

`WoMan Faces'
     These options control the display faces that WoMan uses to format
     the man page.

* Menu:

* Interface Options::
* Formatting Options::
* Faces::
* Special symbols::

File: woman,  Node: Interface Options,  Next: Formatting Options,  Prev: Customization,  Up: Customization

5.1 Interface Options

These options control the process of locating the appropriate file to
browse, and the appearance of the browsing interface.

     A list of strings representing directories to search and/or files
     to try for a man configuration file.  The default is

          ("/etc" "/usr/local/lib")

     [for GNU/Linux and Cygwin respectively.]  A trailing separator (`/'
     for UNIX etc.) on directories is optional and the filename matched
     if a directory is specified is the first to match the regexp
     `man.*\.conf'.  If the environment variable `MANPATH' is not set
     but a configuration file is found then it is parsed instead (or as
     well) to provide a default value for `woman-manpath'.

     A list of strings representing _directory trees_ to search for Unix
     manual files.  Each element should be the name of a directory that
     contains subdirectories of the form `man?', or more precisely
     subdirectories selected by the value of `woman-manpath-man-regexp'.
     Non-directory and unreadable files are ignored.  This can also
     contain conses, with the car indicating a `PATH' variable
     component mapped to the directory tree given in the cdr.

     If not set then the environment variable `MANPATH' is used.  If no
     such environment variable is found, the default list is determined
     by consulting the man configuration file if found.  By default
     this is expected to be either `/etc/man.config' or
     `/usr/local/lib/man.conf', which is controlled by the user option
     `woman-man.conf-path'.  An empty substring of `MANPATH' denotes
     the default list.  Otherwise, the default value of this variable is

          ("/usr/man" "/usr/local/man")

     Any environment variables (names of which must have the Unix-style
     form `$NAME', e.g. `$HOME', `$EMACSDATA', `$EMACS_DIR', regardless
     of platform) are evaluated first but each element must evaluate to
     a _single_ directory name.  Trailing `/'s are ignored.  (Specific
     directories in `woman-path' are also searched.)

     On Microsoft platforms I recommend including drive letters
     explicitly, e.g.

          ("C:/Cygwin/usr/man" "C:/usr/man" "C:/usr/local/man")

     The `MANPATH' environment variable may be set using DOS
     semi-colon-separated or Unix-style colon-separated syntax (but not

     A regular expression to match man directories _under_ the
     `woman-manpath' directories.  These normally have names of the form
     `man?'.  Its default value is `"[Mm][Aa][Nn]"', which is
     case-insensitive mainly for the benefit of Microsoft platforms.
     Its purpose is to avoid directories such as `cat?', `.', `..', etc.

     A list of strings representing _specific directories_ to search for
     Unix manual files.  For example


     These directories are searched in addition to the directory trees
     specified in `woman-manpath'.  Each element should be a directory
     string or `nil', which represents the current directory when the
     path is expanded and cached.  However, the last component (only)
     of each directory string is treated as a regexp (Emacs, not shell)
     and the string is expanded into a list of matching directories.
     Non-directory and unreadable files are ignored.  The default value
     on MS-DOS is

          ("$DJDIR/info" "$DJDIR/man/cat[1-9onlp]")

     and on other platforms is `nil'.

     Any environment variables (names of which must have the Unix-style
     form `$NAME', e.g. `$HOME', `$EMACSDATA', `$EMACS_DIR', regardless
     of platform) are evaluated first but each element must evaluate to
     a _single_ directory name (regexp, see above).  For example


     or equivalently


     Trailing `/'s are discarded.  (The directory trees in
     `woman-manpath' are also searched.)  On Microsoft platforms I
     recommend including drive letters explicitly.

     A positive integer representing the level of topic caching:

       1. cache only the topic and directory lists (uses minimal
          memory, but not recommended);

       2. cache also the directories for each topic (faster, without
          using much more memory);

       3. cache also the actual filenames for each topic (fastest, but
          uses twice as much memory).

     The default value is currently 2, a good general compromise.  If
     the `woman' command is slow to find files then try 3, which may be
     particularly beneficial with large remote-mounted man directories.
     Run the `woman' command with a prefix argument or delete the cache
     file `woman-cache-filename' for a change to take effect.  (Values
     < 1 behave like 1; values > 3 behave like 3.)

     Either a string representing the full pathname of the WoMan
     directory and topic cache file, or `nil'.  It is used to save and
     restore the cache between Emacs sessions.  This is especially
     useful with remote-mounted man page files!  The default value of
     `nil' suppresses this action.  The "standard" non-`nil' filename is
     `~/.wmncach.el'.  Remember that a prefix argument forces the
     `woman' command to update and re-write the cache.

     A list of `dired' mode keys to be defined to run WoMan on the
     current file, e.g. `("w" "W")' or any non-`nil' atom to
     automatically define `w' and `W' if they are unbound, or `nil' to
     do nothing.  Default is `t'.

     Imenu support for Sections and Subsections: an alist with elements
     of the form `(MENU-TITLE REGEXP INDEX)'--see the documentation for
     `imenu-generic-expression'.  Default value is

          ((nil "\n\\([A-Z].*\\)" 1)  ; SECTION, but not TITLE
           ("*Subsections*" "^   \\([A-Z].*\\)" 1))

     A boolean value that defaults to `nil'.  If non-`nil' then WoMan
     adds a Contents menu to the menubar by calling

     A string representing the title to use if WoMan adds a Contents
     menu to the menubar.  Default is `"CONTENTS"'.

     A boolean value that defaults to `nil'.  If non-`nil' then the
     `woman' command uses the word at point as the topic, _without
     interactive confirmation_, if it exists as a topic.

     A boolean value representing the default value for
     `woman-use-topic-at-point'.  The default value is `nil'.  [The
     variable `woman-use-topic-at-point' may be `let'-bound when
     `woman' is loaded, in which case its global value does not get
     defined.  The function `woman-file-name' sets it to this value if
     it is unbound.]

     A regular match expression used to select man source files
     (ignoring any compression extension).  The default value is
     `"\\.\\([0-9lmnt]\\w*\\)"' [which means a filename extension is

     _Do not change this unless you are sure you know what you are

     The SysV standard man pages use two character suffixes, and this is
     becoming more common in the GNU world.  For example, the man pages
     in the `ncurses' package include `toe.1m', `form.3x', etc.

     *Please note:* an optional compression regexp will be appended, so
     this regexp _must not_ end with any kind of string terminator such
     as `$' or `\\''.

     A regular match expression used to match compressed man file
     extensions for which decompressors are available and handled by
     auto-compression mode.  It should begin with `\\.' and end with
     `\\'' and _must not_ be optional.  The default value is
     `"\\.\\(g?z\\|bz2\\)\\'"', which matches the `gzip' and `bzip2'
     compression extensions.

     _Do not change this unless you are sure you know what you are

     [It should be compatible with the `car' of
     `jka-compr-file-name-handler-entry', but that is unduly
     complicated, includes an inappropriate extension (`.tgz') and is
     not loaded by default!]

     If non-`nil' then use a dedicated frame for displaying WoMan
     windows.  This is useful only when WoMan is run under a window
     system such as X or Microsoft Windows that supports real multiple
     frames, in which case the default value is non-`nil'.

File: woman,  Node: Formatting Options,  Next: Faces,  Prev: Interface Options,  Up: Customization

5.2 Formatting Options

These options control the layout that WoMan uses to format the man page.

     An integer specifying the right margin for formatted text.
     Default is 65.

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then most of the frame width is
     used, overriding the value of `woman-fill-column'.  Default is

     An integer specifying the default prevailing indent for the `-man'
     macros.  Default is 5.  Set this variable to 7 to emulate
     GNU/Linux man formatting.

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then embolden section and subsection
     headings.  Default is `t'.  [Heading emboldening is _not_ standard
     `man' behavior.]

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then unrecognized requests etc. are
     ignored.  Default is `t'.  This gives the standard `roff' behavior.
     If `nil' then they are left in the buffer, which may aid debugging.

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then preserve ASCII characters in
     the WoMan buffer.  Otherwise, non-ASCII characters (that display as
     ASCII) may remain, which is irrelevant unless the buffer is to be
     saved to a file.  Default is `nil'.

     WoMan emulation, currently either `nroff' or `troff'.  Default is
     `nroff'.  `troff' emulation is experimental and largely untested.

File: woman,  Node: Faces,  Next: Special symbols,  Prev: Formatting Options,  Up: Customization

5.3 Faces

These options control the display faces that WoMan uses to format the
man page.

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then WoMan assumes that face
     support is available.  It defaults to a non-`nil' value if the
     display supports either colors or different fonts.

     Face for italic font in man pages.  Default: italic, underlined,
     foreground red.  This is overkill!  `troff' uses just italic;
     `nroff' uses just underline.  You should probably select either
     italic or underline as you prefer, but not both, although italic
     and underline work together perfectly well!

     Face for bold font in man pages.  Default: bold, foreground blue.

     Face for all unknown fonts in man pages.  Default: foreground
     brown.  Brown is a good compromise: it is distinguishable from the
     default but not enough so as to make font errors look terrible.
     (Files that use non-standard fonts seem to do so badly or in
     idiosyncratic ways!)

     Face for all additions made by WoMan to man pages.  Default:
     foreground orange.

File: woman,  Node: Special symbols,  Prev: Faces,  Up: Customization

5.4 Special symbols

This section currently applies _only_ to Microsoft Windows.

WoMan provides partial experimental support for special symbols,
initially only for MS-Windows and only for MS-Windows fonts.  This
includes both non-ASCII characters from the main text font and use of a
separate symbol font.  Later, support will be added for other font
types (e.g. `bdf' fonts) and for the X Window System.  In Emacs 20.7,
the current support works partially under Windows 9x but may not work
on any other platform.

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then WoMan may use non-ASCII
     characters from the default font.  Default is `t'.

     A boolean value.  If non-`nil' then WoMan may use the symbol font.
     Default is `nil', mainly because it may change the line spacing (at
     least in NTEmacs 20).

     A string describing the symbol font to use for special characters.
     It should be compatible with, and the same size as, the default
     text font.  Under MS-Windows, the default is


File: woman,  Node: Log,  Next: Technical,  Prev: Customization,  Up: Top

6 The *WoMan-Log* Buffer

This is modeled on the Emacs byte-compiler.  It logs all files
formatted by WoMan and the time taken.  If WoMan finds anything that it
cannot handle then it writes a warning to this buffer.  If the variable
`woman-show-log' is non-`nil' (by default it is `nil') then WoMan
automatically displays this buffer.  *Note Interface Options: Interface
Options.  Many WoMan warnings can be completely ignored, because they
are reporting the fact that WoMan has ignored requests that it is
correct for WoMan to ignore.  In some future version this level of
paranoia may be reduced, but not until WoMan is deemed more reliable.
At present, all warnings should be treated with some suspicion.
Uninterpreted escape sequences are also logged (in some cases).

By resetting the variable `woman-ignore' to `nil' (by default it is
`t'), uninterpreted `roff' requests can optionally be left in the
formatted buffer to indicate precisely where they occurred.  *Note
Interface Options: Interface Options.

File: woman,  Node: Technical,  Next: Bugs,  Prev: Log,  Up: Top

7 Technical Details

Horizontal and vertical spacing and resolution

WoMan currently assumes 10 characters per inch horizontally, hence a
horizontal resolution of 24 basic units, and 5 lines per inch
vertically, hence a vertical resolution of 48 basic units.  (`nroff'
uses 240 per inch.)

Vertical spacing and blank lines

The number of consecutive blank lines in the formatted buffer should be
either 0 or 1.  A blank line should leave a space like .sp 1.  Current
policy is to output vertical space only immediately before text is

File: woman,  Node: Bugs,  Next: Acknowledgements,  Prev: Technical,  Up: Top

8 Reporting Bugs

If WoMan fails completely, or formats a file incorrectly (i.e.
obviously wrongly or significantly differently from `man') or
inelegantly, then please

  1. try the latest version of `woman.el' from the Emacs CVS repository
     on `'.  If it still fails, please

  2. send a bug report to <> and to
     <>.  Please include the entry from the
     `*WoMan-Log*' buffer relating to the problem file, together with a
     brief description of the problem.  Please indicate where you got
     the man source file from, but do not send it unless asked to send

File: woman,  Node: Acknowledgements,  Next: GNU Free Documentation License,  Prev: Bugs,  Up: Top

9 Acknowledgements

For Heather, Kathryn and Madelyn, the women in my life (although they
will probably never use it)!

I also thank the following for helpful suggestions, bug reports, code
fragments, general interest, etc.:

     Jari Aalto, <>
     Dean Andrews, <>
     Juanma Barranquero, <>
     Karl Berry, <>
     Jim Chapman, <>
     Frederic Corne, <>
     Peter Craft, <>
     Charles Curley, <>
     Jim Davidson, <>
     Kevin D'Elia, <>
     John Fitch, <>
     Hans Frosch, <>
     Guy Gascoigne-Piggford, <>
     Brian Gorka, <>
     Nicolai Henriksen, <>
     Thomas Herchenroeder, <>
     Alexander Hinds, <>
     Stefan Hornburg, <>
     Theodore Jump, <>
     Paul Kinnucan, <>
     Jonas Linde, <>
     Andrew McRae, <>
     Howard Melman, <>
     Dennis Pixton, <>
     T. V. Raman, <>
     Bruce Ravel, <>
     Benjamin Riefenstahl, <>
     Kevin Ruland, <>
     Tom Schutter, <>
     Wei-Xue Shi, <>
     Fabio Somenzi, <>
     Karel Sprenger, <>
     Chris Szurgot, <>
     Paul A. Thompson, <>
     Arrigo Triulzi, <>
     Geoff Voelker, <>
     Eli Zaretskii, <>

File: woman,  Node: GNU Free Documentation License,  Next: Command Index,  Prev: Acknowledgements,  Up: Top

Appendix A GNU Free Documentation License

                     Version 1.3, 3 November 2008

     Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

     Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
     of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.


     The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other
     functional and useful document "free" in the sense of freedom: to
     assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it,
     with or without modifying it, either commercially or
     noncommercially.  Secondarily, this License preserves for the
     author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not
     being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

     This License is a kind of "copyleft", which means that derivative
     works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense.
     It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft
     license designed for free software.

     We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for
     free software, because free software needs free documentation: a
     free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms
     that the software does.  But this License is not limited to
     software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless
     of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book.
     We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is
     instruction or reference.


     This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium,
     that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it
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     to use that work under the conditions stated herein.  The
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     of the public is a licensee, and is addressed as "you".  You
     accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a
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     A "Modified Version" of the Document means any work containing the
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     A "Secondary Section" is a named appendix or a front-matter section
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File: woman,  Node: Command Index,  Next: Variable Index,  Prev: GNU Free Documentation License,  Up: Top

Command Index

* Menu:

* beginning-of-buffer:                   Convenience.          (line 16)
* describe-mode:                         Convenience.          (line 24)
* digit-argument:                        Convenience.          (line 11)
* end-of-buffer:                         Convenience.          (line 20)
* man:                                   Changing.             (line 20)
* man-follow:                            References.           (line 26)
* Man-follow-manual-reference:           References.           (line 30)
* Man-goto-section:                      Navigation.           (line 25)
* Man-goto-see-also-section:             Navigation.           (line 28)
* Man-kill:                              Changing.             (line 38)
* Man-next-section:                      Navigation.           (line 18)
* Man-previous-section:                  Navigation.           (line 21)
* Man-quit:                              Changing.             (line 34)
* negative-argument:                     Convenience.          (line  7)
* scroll-down:                           Navigation.           (line 15)
* scroll-up:                             Navigation.           (line 12)
* woman:                                 Changing.             (line 30)
* woman-decode-buffer:                   Filename.             (line 42)
* woman-dired-find-file:                 Filename.             (line 18)
* woman-find-file:                       Filename.             (line  9)
* woman-mouse-2:                         References.           (line 21)
* WoMan-next-manpage:                    Changing.             (line 46)
* WoMan-previous-manpage:                Changing.             (line 43)
* woman-reformat-last-file:              Changing.             (line 49)
* woman-tar-extract-file:                Filename.             (line 29)

File: woman,  Node: Variable Index,  Next: Keystroke Index,  Prev: Command Index,  Up: Top

Variable Index

* Menu:

* w32-downcase-file-names:               Finding.             (line  35)
* woman-addition-face:                   Faces.               (line  31)
* woman-bold-face:                       Faces.               (line  21)
* woman-bold-headings:                   Formatting Options.  (line  22)
* woman-cache-filename:                  Interface Options.   (line 116)
* woman-cache-level:                     Interface Options.   (line  97)
* woman-default-indent:                  Formatting Options.  (line  17)
* woman-dired-keys:                      Interface Options.   (line 125)
* woman-emulation:                       Formatting Options.  (line  38)
* woman-file-compression-regexp:         Interface Options.   (line 178)
* woman-fill-column:                     Formatting Options.  (line   8)
* woman-fill-frame:                      Formatting Options.  (line  12)
* woman-fontify:                         Faces.               (line   9)
* woman-ignore:                          Formatting Options.  (line  27)
* woman-imenu:                           Interface Options.   (line 139)
* woman-imenu-generic-expression:        Interface Options.   (line 131)
* woman-imenu-title:                     Interface Options.   (line 144)
* woman-italic-face:                     Faces.               (line  14)
* woman-man.conf-path:                   Interface Options.   (line   9)
* woman-manpath:                         Interface Options.   (line  22)
* woman-manpath-man-regexp:              Interface Options.   (line  56)
* woman-path:                            Interface Options.   (line  63)
* woman-post-format-hook:                Customization.       (line  29)
* woman-pre-format-hook:                 Customization.       (line  24)
* woman-preserve-ascii:                  Formatting Options.  (line  32)
* woman-show-log:                        Customization.       (line  19)
* woman-symbol-font:                     Special symbols.     (line  25)
* woman-uncompressed-file-regexp:        Interface Options.   (line 161)
* woman-unknown-face:                    Faces.               (line  24)
* woman-use-extended-font:               Special symbols.     (line  16)
* woman-use-own-frame:                   Interface Options.   (line 194)
* woman-use-symbol-font:                 Special symbols.     (line  20)
* woman-use-topic-at-point:              Interface Options.   (line 148)
* woman-use-topic-at-point-default:      Interface Options.   (line 153)

File: woman,  Node: Keystroke Index,  Next: Concept Index,  Prev: Variable Index,  Up: Top

Keystroke Index

* Menu:

* -:                                     Convenience.          (line  7)
* .:                                     Convenience.          (line 16)
* 0 .. 9:                                Convenience.          (line 11)
* <:                                     Convenience.          (line 15)
* >:                                     Convenience.          (line 20)
* ?:                                     Convenience.          (line 24)
* DEL:                                   Navigation.           (line 15)
* g:                                     Navigation.           (line 25)
* k:                                     Changing.             (line 38)
* m:                                     Changing.             (line 20)
* M-n:                                   Changing.             (line 46)
* M-p:                                   Changing.             (line 43)
* Mouse-2:                               References.           (line 21)
* n:                                     Navigation.           (line 18)
* p:                                     Navigation.           (line 21)
* q:                                     Changing.             (line 34)
* R:                                     Changing.             (line 49)
* r:                                     References.           (line 30)
* RET:                                   References.           (line 26)
* s:                                     Navigation.           (line 28)
* SPC:                                   Navigation.           (line 12)
* w:                                     Changing.             (line 30)

File: woman,  Node: Concept Index,  Prev: Keystroke Index,  Up: Top

Concept Index

* Menu:

* acknowledgements:                      Acknowledgements.     (line  6)
* automatic interface:                   Automatic.            (line  6)
* background:                            Background.           (line  6)
* browsing man pages:                    Browsing.             (line  6)
* buffer, log:                           Log.                  (line  6)
* bugs, reporting:                       Bugs.                 (line  6)
* cache, topic:                          Cache.                (line  6)
* case-sensitivity:                      Finding.              (line 35)
* changing current man page:             Changing.             (line  6)
* contents menu:                         Imenu.                (line  6)
* convenience key bindings:              Convenience.          (line  6)
* current man page, changing:            Changing.             (line  6)
* customization:                         Customization.        (line  6)
* directory separator character:         Interface Options.    (line 52)
* faces <1>:                             Faces.                (line  6)
* faces:                                 Fonts.                (line  6)
* filename interface:                    Filename.             (line  6)
* finding man pages:                     Finding.              (line  6)
* following references:                  References.           (line  6)
* fonts:                                 Fonts.                (line  6)
* formatting man pages:                  Finding.              (line  6)
* formatting options:                    Formatting Options.   (line  6)
* horizontal spacing:                    Technical.            (line  6)
* imenu support:                         Imenu.                (line  6)
* interface options:                     Interface Options.    (line  6)
* introduction:                          Introduction.         (line  6)
* key bindings, convenience:             Convenience.          (line  6)
* log buffer:                            Log.                  (line  6)
* man pages, browsing:                   Browsing.             (line  6)
* man pages, finding:                    Finding.              (line  6)
* man pages, formatting:                 Finding.              (line  6)
* MANPATH, directory separator:          Interface Options.    (line 52)
* MANPATH, environment variable:         Interface Options.    (line 31)
* navigation:                            Navigation.           (line  6)
* point, word at:                        Word at point.        (line  6)
* references:                            References.           (line  6)
* reporting bugs:                        Bugs.                 (line  6)
* resolution:                            Technical.            (line  6)
* spacing, horizontal and vertical:      Technical.            (line  6)
* special symbols:                       Special symbols.      (line  6)
* technical details:                     Technical.            (line  6)
* topic cache:                           Cache.                (line  6)
* topic interface:                       Topic.                (line  6)
* using, browsing man pages:             Browsing.             (line  6)
* using, finding man pages:              Finding.              (line  6)
* using, formatting man pages:           Finding.              (line  6)
* vertical spacing:                      Technical.            (line  6)
* word at point:                         Word at point.        (line  6)