fmt — simple optimal text formatter


fmt [−WIDTH] [OPTION...] [FILE...]


Reformat each paragraph in the FILE(s), writing to standard output. The option −WIDTH is an abbreviated form of −−width=DIGITS.

Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.

−c, −−crown−margin

preserve indentation of first two lines

−p, −−prefix=STRING

reformat only lines beginning with STRING, reattaching the prefix to reformatted lines

−s, −−split−only

split long lines, but do not refill

−t, −−tagged−paragraph

indentation of first line different from second

−u, −−uniform−spacing

one space between words, two after sentences

−w, −−width=WIDTH

maximum line width (default of 75 columns)

−g, −−goal=WIDTH

goal width (default of 93% of width)


display this help and exit


output version information and exit

With no FILE, or when FILE is −, read standard input.


Written by Ross Paterson.


Report fmt bugs to bug−

GNU coreutils home page: <>

General help using GNU software: <>

Report fmt translation bugs to <>


The full documentation for fmt is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and fmt programs are properly installed at your site, the command

  • info coreutils 'fmt invocation'

should give you access to the complete manual.


Copyright © 2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc. License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <>.

This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it. There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.