Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

RTFM is an initialism and internet slang for the expression "read the fucking manual"[1] – typically used to reply to a basic question where the answer is easily found in the documentation, user guide, owner's manual, man page, online help, internet forum, software documentation or FAQ.

Usage is variously viewed as a pointed reminder of etiquette to try to find a solution before posting to a mass forum or email alias;[2] helping a newer user (colloquially and demeaningly referred to as a noob within internet culture) to improve themselves;[3] as a useless response;[4] or as a hostile and elitist response.[5] Polite usages would mention where one has looked when asking a question, and to provide an exact location or link where exactly to RTFM.

In expurgated texts, substitutions such as "read the frickn' manual", "read the factory manual", "read the field manual", "read the flaming manual", "read the fine manual", "read the friendly manual", "read the [pause] manual" or similar variants are used.[6]

If there is no appropriate content in the manual but the answer is frequently seen in the forum, a similar response in internet culture might be to Lurk moar, meaning to observe the forum for a time before asking questions.

A related concept is, "let me google that for you" (abbreviated to "LMGTFY"). In this case, the "manual" is the World Wide Web, so one of several search engines such as Google could be used to look up the answer. In many cases, doing so provides an answer in less time than it takes to ask someone else the question. The range of usage is similar to that for RTFM.[7]

List of similar initialisms[edit]

  • RTBM – "read the bloody manual"[8]
  • RTFA – "read the fucking/featured article"– common on news forums such as Fark[9] and Slashdot, where using "TFA" instead of "the article" has become a meme[citation needed]
  • WABM – "write a better manual" – an answer complaining that the manual is not written well[10]
  • RTFS – "read the fucking source" or "read the fucking standard" or "read the fucking syllabus"[11]
  • RTFB – "read the fucking binary"[12]
  • STFW – "search the fucking web"[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes censored as "Read the Friendly Manual"
  2. ^ "RTFM. No seriously, R.T.F.M. Then ask your question". 4 August 2011. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  3. ^ "What is Read The F###ing Manual (RTFM)?". 15 May 2012. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  4. ^ "RTFM: I did, and it didn't help". 19 November 2007. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  5. ^ "It's Time to Retire "RTFM"". 17 April 2019. Retrieved 2021-10-15.
  6. ^ Howard, Michael, David LeBlanc, and John Viega. 19 Deadly Sins of Software Security: Programming Flaws and How to Fix Them. New York: McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2005. ISBN 0-07-226085-8.
  7. ^ "Let me google that for you". 22 January 2007. Retrieved 2023-09-17.
  8. ^ "RTBM definition". foldoc.com. Retrieved 2009-12-08.
  9. ^ "Routine traffic stop has man up in arms. Er, caught red-handed. Er, never mind, just RTFA". Fark.com. 2008-11-28. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  10. ^ "RTFM is a four-letter word". Software Sustainability Institute. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  11. ^ "RTFS". The Jargon File – version 4.4.7. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  12. ^ "RTFB". The Jargon File – version 4.4.7. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  13. ^ Eric S. Raymond (21 May 2014). "RTFM and STFW: How To Tell You've Seriously Screwed Up". How to ask Smart Questions. Retrieved 17 November 2023.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to RTFM at Wikimedia Commons