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 neces-
sarily 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 approxi-
mately 60 columns long.
1. The fmt command is a fast, simple formatting program. Standard text
editing programs are more appropriate than fmt for complex formatting
2. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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 continue is
displayed to indicate that you can enter more information or send your
Commands: mail(1), mailx(1), vi(1)