Table of contents


man2html - convert a UNIX manual page file from nroff/troff -man format to HTML


man2html [ -v HTML=[2|3|3.2] ] [ input-manpage-file or < input-manpage-file ] > output-html-file


man2html converts a UNIX manual page file named on the command line, or provided on stdin, from nroff(1)/troff(1) -man format to strictly-grammar-conforming HTML. You can verify the correctness of the translation by validating the output HTML file with either html-check(1) or html-ncheck(1); neither should produce any warnings or errors whatsoever.

Little attempt is made to prettyprint the output HTML; that job is better left to a separate program, html-pretty(1).

Although some vendors, such as Sun Microsystems, provide clear documentation of how manual pages should be written, many manual page authors ignore those recommendations, and use arbitrary [nt]roff markup to achieve the traditional appearance of UNIX manual pages, without actually using the standard -man format commands.

man2html works quite well on Sun manual pages, but may be less successful on manual pages from other sources. In such a case, an alternative may be to use T. A. Phelp's RosettaMan(1), commonly installed as rman(1). That program works on the output of nroff(1), and attempts to guess manual page structure from the horizontal and vertical spacing in order to add HTML markup. When vendor-provided manual pages are available only in preformatted form, as on IBM AIX and SGI IRIX systems, rman(1) may be your only choice. However, when man2html can be used successfully, it can often do a better job than rman(1) because it has a better understanding of the document structure implied [nt]roff manual-page markup.


There is only one option:
-v HTML=[2|3|3.2]
Define the HTML grammar level to be used for the output
declaration. The default, if this option is omitted, is -v HTML=3, to select grammar level 2, which is reasonably-well supported by all current browsers. The level 3 grammar has expired; some of its features, particularly the support for markup of mathematics, will appear in a future HTML grammar level. The version 3.2 grammar is a stopgap, which, despite its number, lies approximately between 2 and 3 in features. It was released on 5-Nov-1996 at
to provide a stable grammar toward which WWW browser developers could work.

There are only three potential differences in the output of man2html for these grammar levels:


html-check(1), html-ncheck(1), html-norm(1), html-pretty(1), html-spam(1), htmlchek(1), nsgmls(1), rman(1), RosettaMan(1), sgmlnorm(1), sgmls(1), spam(1), spent(1),


Nelson H. F. Beebe, Ph.D.
Center for Scientific Computing
Department of Mathematics
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Tel: +1 801 581 5254
FAX: +1 801 581 4148
Email: <>