perldoc - Look up Perl documentation in Pod format.


perldoc [-h] [-v] [-t] [-u] [-m] [-l] [-F] [-i] [-V] [-T] [-r] [-ddestination_file] [-oformatname] [-MFormatterClassName] [-wformatteroption:value] [-nnroff-replacement] [-X] PageName|ModuleName|ProgramName

perldoc -f BuiltinFunction

perldoc -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 the perltoc manpage page.



Prints out a brief help message.


Describes search for the item in detail (verbosely).


Display docs using plain text converter, instead of nroff. This may be faster, but it probably won't look as nice.


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.


Display only the file name of the module found.


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 the perlfunc manpage.


      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


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: -oman. This is actually just a wrapper around the -M switch; using -oformatname just looks for a loadable class by adding that format name (with different capitalizations) to the end of different classname prefixes.

For example, -oLaTeX 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 parse_from_file method. For example: perldoc -MPod::Perldoc::ToChecker.

You can specify several classes to try by joining them with commas or semicolons, as in -MTk::SuperPod;Tk::Pod.

-w option:value or -w option

This specifies an option to call the formatter with. For example, -w textsize:15 will call $formatter->textsize(15) 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 textsize expects an integer, and you do -w textsize:big, expect trouble.)

You can use -w optionname (without a value) as shorthand for -w optionname:TRUE. 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.


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 $Config{archlib}/pod.idx. The pod.idx file should contain fully qualified filenames, one per line.


The item you want to look up. Nested modules (such as File::Basename) are specified either as File::Basename or File/Basename. You may also give a descriptive name of a page, such as perlfunc.

-n some-formatter

Specify replacement for nroff


Recursive search.


Ignore case.


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 PERLDOC environment variable will be used before the command line arguments.

Useful values for PERLDOC include -oman, -otext, -otk, -ortf, -oxml, and so on, depending on what modules you have on hand; or exactly specify the formatter class with -MPod::Perldoc::ToMan or the like.

perldoc also searches directories specified by the PERL5LIB (or PERLLIB if PERL5LIB is not defined) and PATH environment variables. (The latter is so that embedded pods for executables, such as perldoc itself, are available.)

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

One useful value for PERLDOC_PAGER is less -+C -E.

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