Formatting RFCs and Internet-Drafts
The basic reference document on creating an RFC is
"Instructions to RFC Authors".
The primary submission format for RFCs is ASCII text.
For more on RFC/Internet-Draft authoring tools, see also the IETF web page
"Available Authoring Tools".
The xml2rfc tool converts an XML source file to text, HTML, or
nroff. RFC 2629
successor define the
format. Various templates,
the xml2rfc FAQ, and
intro to xml2rfc slides are available.
A template by Elwyn Davies is available as template-bare.xml.
A template by the MIB Doctors for a document containing a MIB is
The text output with advice is available
The text preparation program nroff is widely available for Unix
systems, while its freeware equivalent groff is available for an
even wider range of platforms, including Microsoft Windows. These
programs use directives in the text to control the formatting. The RFC
Editor, in particular, uses nroff for final RFC formatting.
NroffEdit is an application with wysiwyg display for
writing and editing Internet-Drafts using nroff. You edit the nroff
in the left-hand window and see the text output in the right-hand
window. To start a new I-D, load a template by selecting File > New Draft from Template.
is available as 3-nroff.template. There is also an introductory tutorial on the use of nroff.
The rules for formatting RFCs were set in the days when most text
editors basically handled ASCII text files. Life is more difficult
for those who must use Microsoft Word to produce their RFCs.
RFC 5385 by Joe Touch describes in detail how to use his Word template to create an
Internet-Draft or RFC. It requires
script for post-processing.
LaTeX is widely used for text preparation in many academic
environments. A convenient LaTeX template is available as
2-latex.template. LaTeX in general does not produce plain ASCII text
in the RFC format, but there is a
LaTeX-to-nroff translation tool.
Checking Formal Languages
For creating different kinds of diff files, see the diff tools made
available by the IETF Tools Team.
For validating your XML file for use with xml2rfc, see
Bill Fenner's xml2rfc validator.
This page was last updated on 9 November 2010.