fmt(1)fmt(1)NAMEfmt - Formats mail messages prior to sending
SYNOPSISfmt [-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)fmt(1)