fmt man page on DigitalUNIX

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fmt(1)									fmt(1)

       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  col‐
       umns 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  pre‐
       served,	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

       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 embed‐
       ded messages or preformatted information from other files.   This  com‐
       mand  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: Aus‐
	      tralia 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:

	      After you enter the command, your message is formatted, in  this
	      case to the default line length of 72 columns, and the word con‐
	      tinue is displayed to indicate that you can enter more  informa‐
	      tion or send your message.

       Commands:  mail(1), mailx(1), vi(1)


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