refentry — A reference page (originally a UNIX man-style reference page).



Common attributes and common linking attributes.

Additional attributes:

  • label
  • status

Additional Constraints

  • The root element must have a version attribute.


A refentry is a reference page. In UNIX parlance this has historically been called a “man page” (short for manual page).

A refentry is an appropriate wrapper for any small unit of reference documentation describing a single topic. Canonical examples are programming language functions and user commands (one refentry per function or command).[5]

On some projects, the structure of reference pages may be rigorously defined right down to the number, order, and title of individual sections (some or all of which may be required).

Processing expectations

Formatted as a displayed block. It is not uncommon for refentrys to introduce a forced page break in print media.

Formatting reference pages may require a fairly sophisticated processing system. Much of the meta-information about a reference page (its name, type, purpose, title, and classification) is stored in wrappers near the beginning of the refentry.

Common presentational features, such as titles and running heads, may require data from several of these wrappers plus some generated text. Other formatting often requires that these elements be reordered.


Common attributes and common linking attributes.


Specifies an identifying string for presentation purposes


Identifies the editorial or publication status of the element on which it occurs


These elements contain refentry: appendix, article, chapter, part, partintro, preface, reference, section.


The following elements occur in refentry: indexterm (db.indexterm.endofrange), indexterm (db.indexterm.singular), indexterm (db.indexterm.startofrange), info (, refmeta, refnamediv, refsect1, refsection, refsynopsisdiv.


  1 <article xmlns=''>
  2 <title>Example refentry</title>
  4 <refentry xml:id="ls">
  6   <refmeta>
  8     <manvolnum>1</manvolnum>
 12     <refname>ls</refname>
        <refpurpose>list contents of a directory</refpurpose>
 14     <refclass>UNIX/Linux</refclass>
 18     <cmdsynopsis>
 20       <arg choice="opt">
 22       </arg>
          <arg choice="opt" rep="repeat">file</arg>
 24     </cmdsynopsis>
 28   <para>For each file that is a directory, <command>ls</command>
      lists the contents of the directory; for each file that is an
 30   ordinary file, <command>ls</command> repeats its name and any
      other information requested.
 32   </para>
 34   </refsect1>
  1 <article xmlns=''>
  2 <title>Example refentry</title>
  4 <refentry xml:id="printf">
  6   <refmeta>
  8     <manvolnum>3S</manvolnum>
 12     <refname>printf</refname>
 14     <refname>sprintf</refname>
        <refpurpose>print formatted output</refpurpose>
 16   </refnamediv>
 18   <refsynopsisdiv>
 20     <funcsynopsis>
 22         #include &lt;stdio.h&gt;
 24       <funcprototype>
            <funcdef>int <function>printf</function></funcdef>
 26         <paramdef>const char *<parameter>format</parameter></paramdef>
 28       </funcprototype>
 30       <funcprototype>
            <funcdef>int <function>fprintf</function></funcdef>
 32         <paramdef>FILE *<parameter>strm</parameter></paramdef>
            <paramdef>const char *<parameter>format</parameter></paramdef>
 34         <paramdef>...</paramdef>
 38         <funcdef>int <function>sprintf</function></funcdef>
            <paramdef>char *<parameter>s</parameter></paramdef>
 40         <paramdef>const char *<parameter>format</parameter></paramdef>
 42       </funcprototype>
 48   <para><function>printf</function> places output on the standard
      output stream stdout.
 50   </para>
 52   </refsect1>
  1 <article xmlns=''>
  2 <title>Example refentry</title>
  4 <refentry xml:id="iovec">
  6   <refmeta>
  8     <manvolnum>9S</manvolnum>
 12     <refname>iovec</refname>
        <refpurpose>data storage structure for I/O using uio</refpurpose>
 14   </refnamediv>
 16   <refsynopsisdiv>
 18       #include &lt;sys/uio.h&gt;
 20   </refsynopsisdiv>
 22   <refsect1><title>Interface Level</title>
      <para>Architecture independent level 1 (DDI/DKI).
 24   </para>
 30     An <code>iovec</code> structure describes a data
        storage area for transfer in a
 32     <citerefentry><refentrytitle>uio</refentrytitle>
 34     </citerefentry>
        structure. Conceptually, it may be thought of as
 36     a base address and length specification.
 40   <refsect1><title>Structure Members</title>
 42   <programlisting>
         caddr_t  iov_base;  /* base address of the data storage area */
 44                          /* represented by the iovec structure */
         int      iov_len;   /* size of the data storage area in bytes */
 46   </programlisting>
 48   <para>…</para>
 50 </refentry>
 52 </article>

[5]You’re reading a refentry right now.

Last revised by Norman Walsh on 6 Jun 2011 (git hash: 6ffcc7640bbc5f852a318e452c9f210f03292cb9)