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4.3.2 General structure of an ms document

The ms macro package expects a certain amount of structure, but not as much as packages such as man or mdoc.

The simplest documents can begin with a paragraph macro (such as LP or PP), and consist of text separated by paragraph macros or even blank lines. Longer documents have a structure as follows:

Document type

If you invoke the RP (report) macro on the first line of the document, groff prints the cover page information on its own page; otherwise it prints the information on the first page with your document text immediately following. Other document formats found in AT&T troff are specific to AT&T or Berkeley, and are not supported in groff.

Format and layout

By setting number registers, you can change your document’s type (font and size), margins, spacing, headers and footers, and footnotes. See ms Document Control Registers, for more details.

Cover page

A cover page consists of a title, the author’s name and institution, an abstract, and the date.7 See ms Cover Page Macros, for more details.


Following the cover page is your document. You can use the ms macros to write reports, letters, books, and so forth. The package is designed for structured documents, consisting of paragraphs interspersed with headings and augmented by lists, footnotes, tables, and other common constructs. See ms Body Text, for more details.

Table of contents

Longer documents usually include a table of contents, which you can invoke by placing the TC macro at the end of your document. The ms macros have minimal indexing facilities, consisting of the IX macro, which prints an entry on standard error. Printing the table of contents at the end is necessary since groff is a single-pass text formatter, thus it cannot determine the page number of each section until that section has actually been set and printed. Since ms output is intended for hardcopy, you can manually relocate the pages containing the table of contents between the cover page and the body text after printing.

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