fmt - Formats mail messages prior to sending
fmt [-width] file...
The fmt command reads the input file or files, or standard
input if no files are specified, and writes to standard
output a version of the input with lines of a length as
close as possible to width columns. (Because fmt is internationalized
software, the number of display columns is
not necessarily equivalent to the number of bytes.)
The fmt command both joins and splits lines to achieve the
desired width, but words are never joined or split; spaces
are always preserved, and lines are split at spaces only.
In effect, fmt ignores newline characters in the input and
wraps words to make lines a close as possible to width
columns, resulting in individual lines of varying length
but a consistent (new) text width overall. Because blank
lines are always preserved, fmt does not merge paragraphs
separated by blank lines.
If you specify more than one file, the files are concatenated
as input to fmt. If you do not specify -width, the
default line length is 72 columns. Spacing at the beginning
of input lines is always preserved in the output.
The fmt command is generally used to format mail messages
to improve their appearance before they are sent. It may
also be useful, however, for other simple formatting
tasks. For example, when you are using vi, you can use
the command :%!fmt -60 to reformat your text so that all
lines are approximately 60 columns long.
The fmt command is a fast, simple formatting program.
Standard text editing programs are more appropriate than
fmt for complex formatting operations. Do not use the fmt
command if the message contains embedded messages or preformatted
information from other files. This command formats
the heading information in embedded messages and may
change the format of preformatted information.
file1 contains these lines:
Australia is an island-continent, home to many very
interesting plants and animals.
To reformat this text to a narrower width, enter:
fmt -30 file1
This results in the following, displayed on your
screen: Australia is an island-continent, home to
many very interesting plants and animals.
To make file1 wider, enter: fmt -60 file1
This results in: Australia is an island-continent,
home to many very interesting plants and animals.
To format a message you have created with the mailx
editor, at the left margin enter: ~|fmt
After you enter the command, your message is formatted,
in this case to the default line length of
72 columns, and the word continue is displayed to
indicate that you can enter more information or
send your message.
Commands: mail(1), mailx(1), vi(1)
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