UNIX in a Nutshell: System V Edition

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The quick ref follows certain typographic conventions, outlined below:


is used for directories, filenames, commands, and options. All terms shown in bold are typed literally.


is used to show generic arguments and options; these should be replaced with user-supplied values. Italic is also used to highlight comments in examples.

Constant Width

is used to show the contents of files or the output from commands.

Constant Bold

is used in examples and tables to show commands or other text that should be typed literally by the user.

Constant Italic

is used in examples and tables to show generic text; these should be replaced with user-supplied values.

%, $

are used in some examples as the C shell prompt (%) and as the Bourne shell or Korn shell prompt ($).

[ ]

surround optional elements in a description of syntax. (The brackets themselves should never be typed.) Note that many commands show the argument [files]. If a filename is omitted, standard input (i.e., the keyboard) is assumed. End with an end-of-file character.


indicates the end-of-file character (normally CTRL-D).


is used in syntax descriptions to separate items for which only one alternative may be chosen at a time.

A final word about syntax. In many cases, the space between an option and its argument can be omitted. In other cases, the spacing (or lack of spacing) must be followed strictly. For example, -wn (no intervening space) might be interpreted differently from -w n. It's important to notice the spacing used in option syntax.

Previous: Scope of This BookUNIX in a Nutshell: System V EditionNext: Acknowledgments
Scope of This BookBook IndexAcknowledgments

The UNIX CD Bookshelf NavigationThe UNIX CD BookshelfUNIX Power ToolsUNIX in a NutshellLearning the vi Editorsed & awkLearning the Korn ShellLearning the UNIX Operating System