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5.1.10 Input Conventions

Since GNU troff fills text automatically, it is common practice in the roff language to avoid visual composition of text in input files: the esthetic appeal of the formatted output is what matters. Therefore, roff input should be arranged such that it is easy for authors and maintainers to compose and develop the document, understand the syntax of roff requests, macro calls, and preprocessor languages used, and predict the behavior of the formatter. Several traditions have accrued in service of these goals.

We conclude this section with an example sufficiently long to illustrate most of the above suggestions in practice. For the purpose of fitting the example between the margins of this manual with the font used for its typeset version, we have shortened the input line length to 56 columns. As before, an arrow → indicates a tab character.

.\"   nroff this_file.roff | less
.\"   groff -T ps this_file.roff >
→The theory of relativity is intimately connected with
the theory of space and time.
I shall therefore begin with a brief investigation of
the origin of our ideas of space and time,
although in doing so I know that I introduce a
controversial subject.  \" remainder of paragraph elided

→The experiences of an individual appear to us arranged
in a series of events;
in this series the single events which we remember
appear to be ordered according to the criterion of
\[lq]earlier\[rq] and \[lq]later\[rq], \" punct swapped
which cannot be analysed further.
There exists,
for the individual,
an I-time,
or subjective time.
This itself is not measurable.
I can,
associate numbers with the events,
in such a way that the greater number is associated with
the later event than with an earlier one;
but the nature of this association may be quite
This association I can define by means of a clock by
comparing the order of events furnished by the clock
with the order of a given series of events.
We understand by a clock something which provides a
series of events which can be counted,
and which has other properties of which we shall speak
.\" Albert Einstein, _The Meaning of Relativity_, 1922

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