What would you reccommend as makeprg for compiling nroff documents (for man pages)? I currently have it set to mandoc because it works when I do it from the terminal: mandoc foo.1

When I run :make, it escapes to the terminal and the output stream produced appears to be fine. However the content loaded into the quickfix window is messed up and has weird characters:

||        sstt [--aaiivv] [--cc _c_l_a_s_s] [--ff _f_o_n_t] [--gg _g_e_o_m_e_t_r_y] [--nn _n_a_m_e] [--oo _i_o_f_i_l_e] [--TT
||        _t_i_t_l_e] [--tt _t_i_t_l_e] [--ll _l_i_n_e] [--ww _w_i_n_d_o_w_i_d] [[--ee] _c_o_m_m_a_n_d [_a_r_g_u_m_e_n_t_s...]]
||        sstt [--aaiivv] [--cc _c_l_a_s_s] [--ff _f_o_n_t] [--gg _g_e_o_m_e_t_r_y] [--nn _n_a_m_e] [--oo _i_o_f_i_l_e] [--TT
||        _t_i_t_l_e] [--tt _t_i_t_l_e] [--ww _w_i_n_d_o_w_i_d] -l _l_i_n_e [_s_t_t_y___a_r_g_s...]
||        sstt is a simple terminal emulator.

I tried using the -K (encoding flag) with the available options like utf-8, etc. But it does not seem to work. Any thoughts? It would be really nice to load the compiled man page in a separate split like you can load man pages using the ftplugin/man.vim script and invoking :Man ... (with all the nice syntax highlighting)

On a related note, the quickfix window does not open automatically and I have the following autocommand set (works in all other cases)

autocmd QuickFixCmdPost [^l]* cwindow
  • 2
    I don’t know what mandoc outputs, but if it’s terminal escape sequences, you’re kind of out of luck. I suspect just man will work, but you need an appropriate errorformat! For the separate window, maybe new | read !mandoc # | set filetype=man?
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 4:17

1 Answer 1


If anyone is interested, I found a post that addresses this issue: the suggested approach is to pipe the mandoc (or groff) output through col -bx to remove all terminal control characters, like so:

mandoc file.1 | col -bx | vim - 

The setting would thus be :

set makeprg=mandoc\ -K\ utf-8\ -Tutf8\ %\ \\\|\ col\ -bx

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