perldoc - Look up Perl documentation in Pod format.


perldoc [-h] [-v] [-t] [-u] [-m] [-l] [-F] [-i] [-V] [-T] [-r] [-d

] [-o
] [-M
] [-w
] [-nnroff-replacement] [-X] [-L language_code] PageName|ModuleName|ProgramName

perldoc -f BuiltinFunction

perldoc -L it -f BuiltinFunction

perldoc -q FAQ Keyword

perldoc -L fr -q FAQ Keyword

See below for more description of the switches.


perldoc looks up a piece of documentation in .pod format that is embedded in the perl installation tree or in a perl script, and displays it via

pod2man | nroff -man | $PAGER
. (In addition, if running under HP-UX,
col -x
will be used.) This is primarily used for the documentation for the perl library modules.

Your system may also have man pages installed for those modules, in which case you can probably just use the man(1) command.

If you are looking for a table of contents to the Perl library modules documentation, see the perltoc page.


-h Prints out a brief help message.
-v Describes search for the item in detail (verbosely).
-t Display docs using plain text converter, instead of nroff. This may be faster, but it probably won’t look as nice.
-u Skip the real Pod formatting, and just show the raw Pod source (Unformatted)
-m module Display the entire module: both code and unformatted pod documentation. This may be useful if the docs don’t explain a function in the detail you need, and you’d like to inspect the code directly; perldoc will find the file for you and simply hand it off for display.
-l Display only the file name of the module found.
-F Consider arguments as file names; no search in directories will be performed.
-f perlfunc The -f option followed by the name of a perl built in function will extract the documentation of this function from perlfunc.


      perldoc -f sprintf
-q perlfaq-search-regexp The -q option takes a regular expression as an argument. It will search the question headings in perlfaq[1-9] and print the entries matching the regular expression. Example:
perldoc -q shuffle
-T This specifies that the output is not to be sent to a pager, but is to be sent right to STDOUT.
-d destination-filename This specifies that the output is to be sent neither to a pager nor to STDOUT, but is to be saved to the specified filename. Example:
perldoc -oLaTeX -dtextwrapdocs.tex Text::Wrap
-o output-formatname This specifies that you want Perldoc to try using a Pod-formatting class for the output format that you specify. For example:
. This is actually just a wrapper around the
switch; using
 just looks for a loadable class by adding
that format name (with different capitalizations) to the end of
different classname prefixes.

For example,

currently tries all of the following classes: Pod::Perldoc::ToLaTeX Pod::Perldoc::Tolatex Pod::Perldoc::ToLatex Pod::Perldoc::ToLATEX Pod::Simple::LaTeX Pod::Simple::latex Pod::Simple::Latex Pod::Simple::LATEX Pod::LaTeX Pod::latex Pod::Latex Pod::LATEX.
-M module-name This specifies the module that you want to try using for formatting the pod. The class must at least provide a
method. For example:
perldoc -MPod::Perldoc::ToChecker

You can specify several classes to try by joining them with commas or semicolons, as in

-w option:value or -w option This specifies an option to call the formatter with. For example,
-w textsize:15
will call
on the formatter object before it is used to format the object. For this to be valid, the formatter class must provide such a method, and the value you pass should be valid. (So if
expects an integer, and you do
-w textsize:big
, expect trouble.)

You can use

-w optionname
(without a value) as shorthand for
-w optionname:
.  This is presumably useful in cases of on/off
features like: 
-w page_numbering

You can use a = instead of the :, as in:

-w textsize=15
. This might be more (or less) convenient, depending on what shell you use.
-X Use an index if it is present — the -X option looks for an entry whose basename matches the name given on the command line in the file
. The pod.idx file should contain fully qualified filenames, one per line.
-L language_code This allows to specify the language code for desired language translation. If
package doesn’t exist (or isn’t installed in your system), the switch will be ignored. All available translation packages should be found under the
namespace. See POD2::IT (or POD2::FR) in order to see how to create and integrate new localized
pod documentation packages in Pod::Perldoc.
PageName|ModuleName|ProgramName The item you want to look up. Nested modules (such as
) are specified either as
. You may also give a descriptive name of a page, such as
-n some-formatter Specify replacement for nroff
-r Recursive search.
-i Ignore case.
-V Displays the version of perldoc you’re running.


Because perldoc does not run properly tainted, and is known to have security issues, when run as the superuser it will attempt to drop privileges by setting the effective and real IDs to nobody’s or nouser’s account, or -2 if unavailable. If it cannot relinquish its privileges, it will not run.


Any switches in the

environment variable will be used before the command line arguments.

Useful values for

, and so on, depending on what modules you have on hand; or exactly specify the formatter class with
or the like.

also searches directories specified by the
is not defined) and
environment variables. (The latter is so that embedded pods for executables, such as
itself, are available.)

will use, in order of preference, the pager defined in
, or
before trying to find a pager on its own. (
is not used if
was told to display plain text or unformatted pod.)

One useful value for

less -+C -E

Having PERLDOCDEBUG set to a positive integer will make perldoc emit even more descriptive output than the

switch does — the higher the number, the more it emits.


Current maintainer: Sean M. Burke, <>

Past contributors are: Kenneth Albanowski <>, Andy Dougherty <>, and many others.

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