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ISBN : 978-2-7460-9712-4
EAN : 9782746097124
(Editions ENI)


CentOS 2.1AS







mpost, inimpost, virmpost − MetaPost, a system for drawing pictures


mpost [options] [commands]


This manual page is not meant to be exhaustive. The complete documentation for this version of TeX can be found in the info file or manual Web2C: A TeX implementation.

MetaPost interprets the MetaPost language and produces PostScript pictures. The MetaPost language is similar to Knuth’s Metafont with additional features for including tex(1) or troff(1) commands and accessing features of PostScript not found in Metafont.

Like TeX and Metafont, MetaPost is normally used with a large body of precompiled macros. This version of MetaPost looks at its command line to see what name it was called under. Both inimpost and virmpost are symlinks to the mpost executable. When called as inimpost (or when the --ini option is given) it can be used to precompile macros into a .mem file. When called as virmpost it will use the plain mem. When called under any other name, MetaPost will use that name as the name of the mem to use. For example, when called as mpost the mpost mem is used, which is identical to the plain mem. Other mems than plain are rarely used.

The commands given on the command line to the program are passed to it as the first input line. (But it is often easier to type extended arguments as the first input line, since UNIX shells tend to gobble up or misinterpret MetaPost’s favorite symbols, like semicolons, unless you quote them.) The first line should begin with a filename, a \controlsequence, or a &memname.

The normal usage is to say mp figs to process the file figs.mp. The basename of figs becomes the ’’jobname’’, and is used in forming output file names. If no file is named, the jobname becomes mpout. The default extension, .mp, can be overridden by specifying an extension explicitly.

There is normally one output file for each picture generated, and the output files are named jobname.nnn, where nnn is a number passed to the beginfig macro. The output file name can also be jobname.ps if this number is negative.

The output files can be used as figures in a TeX document by including

\special{psfile=jobname.nnn} in the TeX document. Alternatively, one can \input epsf.tex and then use the macro
jobname.nnn} to produce a box of the appropriate size containing the figure.

btex TeX commands etex

This causes mp to generate a MetaPost picture expression that corresponds to the TeX commands. If the TeX commands generate more than one line of text, it must be in a \vbox or a minipage environment.

verbatimtex TeX commands etex

This is ignored by mp except that the TeX commands are passed on to TeX. When using LaTeX instead of TeX the input file must start with a verbatimtex block that gives the \documentstyle and \begin{document} commands. You can use the ’%&’ construct in the first verbatimtex block to ensure that the correct TeX format is used to process the commands.

Since most TeX fonts have to be downloaded as bitmaps, the btex feature works best when the output of mp is to be included in a TeX document so that dvips(1) can download the fonts. For self-contained PostScript output that can be used directly or included in a troff document, start your MetaPost input file with the command prologues:=1 and stick to standard PostScript fonts. TeX and MetaPost use the names in the third column of the file trfonts.map, which can be found in the directories with support files for MetaPost.

MetaPost output can be included in a troff document via the -m pictures macro package. In this case mp should be invoked with the -T flag so that the commands between btex and etex or between verbatimtex and etex are interpreted as troff instead of TeX. (This automatically sets prologues:=1 ).


This version of MetaPost understands the following command line options.

Use mem as the name of the mem to be used, instead of the name by which MetaPost was called or a %& line.


Print help message and exit.


Be inimpost, for dumping bases; this is implicitly true if the program is called as inimpost.

--interaction mode

Sets the interaction mode. The mode can be one of batchmode, nonstopmode, scrollmode, and errorstopmode. The meaning of these modes is the same as that of the corresponding commands.

--kpathsea-debug bitmask

Sets path searching debugging flags according to the bitmask. See the Kpathsea manual for details.

--progname name

Pretend to be program name. This affects both the format used and the search paths.


Produce TROFF output.

--translate-file tcxname

Use the tcxname translation table.


As -T.


Print version information and exit.


See the Kpathsearch library documentation (the ’Path specifications’ node) for the details of how the environment variables are use when searching. The kpsewhich utility can be used to query the values of the variables.

If the environment variable TEXMFOUTPUT is set, MetaPost attempts to put its output files in it, if they cannot be put in the current directory.

Here is a list of the environment variables affect the behavior of mp:


Search path for input files.


Auxiliary search path for input files with .mf extensions.


Directory for various tables for handling included tex and troff.


The name of a shell script that converts embedded typesetting commands to a form that MetaPost understands. Defaults: makempx for tex and troffmpx for troff.


The version of TeX − or LaTeX − to use when processing btex and verbatimtex commands. Default tex. This version of MetaPost allows you to use a ’%&format’ line instead.


The troff pipeline for btex and verbatimtex commands. Default eqn -d\$\$ | troff


A command template for invoking an editor.

A .mem file is a binary file that permits fast loading of macro packages. mpost reads the default plain.mem unless another .mem file is specified at the start of the first line with an & just before it. There is also an that simulates plain Metafont so that mpost can read .mf fonts. (Plain Metafont is described in The Metafontbook).

Experts can create .mem files be invoking inimpost and giving macro definitions followed by a dump command.

The MetaPost language is similar to Metafont, but the manual A User’s Manual for MetaPost assumes no knowledge of Metafont. MetaPost does not have bitmap output commands or Metafont’s online display mechanism.



Encoded text of MetaPost’s messages.


Predigested MetaPost mem files.


The standard mem file.


The Metafont-compatible mem file. This is loaded when virmp is invoked via a symbolic link as mfmp.


The standard MetaPost macros included in the original distribution.


Various tables for handling included tex and troff.


Table of corresponding font names for troff and PostScript.


Table of corresponding font names for tex and PostScript.


The source file for a few sample figures that are part of a LaTeX document $TEXMFMAIN/doc/metapost/mpintro.tex that describes the MetaPost system in a little more detail.


Donald E. Knuth, The Metafontbook (Volume C of Computers and Typesetting), Addison-Wesley, 1986, ISBN 0-201-13445-4.
John D. Hobby, A User’s Manual for MetaPost, CSTR 162, AT&T Bell Labs,
John D. Hobby, Drawing Graphs with MetaPost, CSTR 164, AT&T Bell Labs,
(the journal of the TeX Users Group).


tex(1), mf(1), dvips(1).


MetaPost was designed by John D. Hobby, incorporating algorithms from Metafont by Donald E. Knuth. It was originally implemented on Unix, incorporating system-dependent routines from web2c, while not relying on it exccept for the actual Web-to-C translator.

Ulrik Vieth adapted MetaPost to take advantage of the advanced path searching features in more recent versions of web2c and worked towards fully integrating MetaPost into the canonical Unix TeX distribution. He also updated and extended this manual page.


Unlike TeX and Metafont, MetaPost originally didn’t use any fancy logo. John Hobby says he prefers the spelling ’’MetaPost’’, yet Don Knuth has updated the Metafont logo.mf font to be able to typeset a proper MetaPost logo similar to the Metafont logo. Feel free to use whatever you think is more approporiate!