man - format and display the on-line manual pages ("on-line" meaning “on the computer”, as opposed to “on paper”, not “on the Internet”)
A traditional Unix documentation system,
man is the main documentation scheme on most Unix-like OS's.
man itself, it is:
an interface to the on-line reference manuals.
The pages are usually written in English, with translations sometimes provided.
Man topics fall into these numbered sections, though section numbers may differ from system to system:
1 - Executable programs and shell commands, eg.
man 1 aspell
2 - System calls (kernel functions), eg.
man 2 delete_module
3 - Library calls, eg.
man 3 assert
4 - Special files (usually devices found in /dev) and drivers, eg.
5 - File formats and conventions, eg.
6 - Games and screensavers, eg:
7 - Miscellaneous (including macro packages and conventions), e.g.
man 7 man,
8 - System administration commands (usually only for root), e.g.
9 - Kernel routines [Non standard]
0 - C library header files [Non standard]
Section numbers are used in
man calls for disambiguation, when there are documents for the same names, but different topics, in different sections, eg.
man 2 exitfor
exitkernel function terminating the calling process immediately, and
man 3 exitfor a standard library function call that causes normal termination of the process.
Similar documentation standards
Shell built-ins usually do not have their separate
man pages. Their short description can be viewed with the
In recent years, software providers often choose
info pages as their documentation scheme.
Man pages of
- History of UNIX Manpages
- THE LINUX MAN-PAGE-HOWTO by Jens Schweikhardt
- Writing Effective Manual Pages by Larry Kollar