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Awk Introduction Tutorial 7 Awk Print Examples

by Sasikala on January 6, 2010

20 Like 31 Tw eet 12

This is the first article on the new awk tutorial series. Well be posting several articles on awk in the upcoming weeks that will cover all features of awk with
practical examples.

In this article, let us review the fundamental awk working methodology along with 7 practical awk print examples.

Note: Make sure you review our earlier Sed Tutorial Series.

Awk Introduction and Printing Operations

Awk is a programming language which allows easy manipulation of structured data and the generation of formatted reports. Awk stands for the names of its
authors Aho, Weinberger, and Kernighan

The Awk is mostly used for pattern scanning and processing. It searches one or more files to see if they contain lines that matches with the specified patterns and
then perform associated actions.

Some of the key features of Awk are:

Awk views a text file as records and fields.

Like common programming language, Awk has variables, conditionals and loops
Awk has arithmetic and string operators.
Awk can generate formatted reports

Awk reads from a file or from its standard input, and outputs to its standard output. Awk does not get along with non-text files. 1/13

awk '/search pattern1/ {Actions}

/search pattern2/ {Actions}' file

In the above awk syntax:

search pattern is a regular expression.

Actions statement(s) to be performed.
several patterns and actions are possible in Awk.
file Input file.
Single quotes around program is to avoid shell not to interpret any of its special characters.

Awk Working Methodology

1. Awk reads the input files one line at a time.
2. For each line, it matches with given pattern in the given order, if matches performs the corresponding action.
3. If no pattern matches, no action will be performed.
4. In the above syntax, either search pattern or action are optional, But not both.
5. If the search pattern is not given, then Awk performs the given actions for each line of the input.
6. If the action is not given, print all that lines that matches with the given patterns which is the default action.
7. Empty braces with out any action does nothing. It wont perform default printing operation.
8. Each statement in Actions should be delimited by semicolon.

Let us create employee.txt file which has the following content, which will be used in the
examples mentioned below.

$cat employee.txt
100 Thomas Manager Sales $5,000
200 Jason Developer Technology $5,500
300 Sanjay Sysadmin Technology $7,000
400 Nisha Manager Marketing $9,500
500 Randy DBA Technology $6,000

Awk Example 1. Default behavior of Awk

By default Awk prints every line from the file.

$ awk '{print;}' employee.txt

100 Thomas Manager Sales $5,000
200 Jason Developer Technology $5,500
300 Sanjay Sysadmin Technology $7,000
400 Nisha Manager Marketing $9,500
500 Randy DBA Technology $6,000

In the above example pattern is not given. So the actions are applicable to all the lines.
Action print with out any argument prints the whole line by default. So it prints all the
lines of the file with out fail. Actions has to be enclosed with in the braces.

Awk Example 2. Print the lines which matches with the pattern.
$ awk '/Thomas/
> /Nisha/' employee.txt
100 Thomas Manager Sales $5,000
400 Nisha Manager Marketing $9,500 2/13
In the above example it prints all the line which matches with the Thomas or Nisha. It has two patterns. Awk accepts any number of patterns, but each set
(patterns and its corresponding actions) has to be separated by newline.

Awk Example 3. Print only specific field.

Awk has number of built in variables. For each record i.e line, it splits the record delimited by whitespace character by default and stores it in the $n variables. If
the line has 4 words, it will be stored in $1, $2, $3 and $4. $0 represents whole line. NF is a built in variable which represents total number of fields in a record.

$ awk '{print $2,$5;}' employee.txt

Thomas $5,000
Jason $5,500
Sanjay $7,000
Nisha $9,500
Randy $6,000

$ awk '{print $2,$NF;}' employee.txt

Thomas $5,000
Jason $5,500
Sanjay $7,000
Nisha $9,500
Randy $6,000

In the above example $2 and $5 represents Name and Salary respectively. We can get the Salary using $NF also, where $NF represents last field. In the print
statement , is a concatenator.

Awk Example 4. Initialization and Final Action

Awk has two important patterns which are specified by the keyword called BEGIN and END.


BEGIN { Actions}
{ACTION} # Action for everyline in a file
END { Actions }

# is for comments in Awk

Actions specified in the BEGIN section will be executed before starts reading the lines from the input.
END actions will be performed after completing the reading and processing the lines from the input.

$ awk 'BEGIN {print "Name\tDesignation\tDepartment\tSalary";}

> {print $2,"\t",$3,"\t",$4,"\t",$NF;}
> END{print "Report Generated\n--------------";
> }' employee.txt
Name Designation Department Salary
Thomas Manager Sales $5,000
Jason Developer Technology $5,500
Sanjay Sysadmin Technology $7,000
Nisha Manager Marketing $9,500
Randy DBA Technology $6,000
Report Generated

In the above example, it prints headline and last file for the reports.

Awk Example 5. Find the employees who has employee id greater than 200
$ awk '$1 >200' employee.txt
300 Sanjay Sysadmin Technology $7,000
400 Nisha Manager Marketing $9,500
500 Randy DBA Technology $6,000

In the above example, first field ($1) is employee id. So if $1 is greater than 200, then just do the default print action to print the whole line.

Awk Example 6. Print the list of employees in Technology department

Now department name is available as a fourth field, so need to check if $4 matches with the string Technology, if yes print the line.

$ awk '$4 ~/Technology/' employee.txt

200 Jason Developer Technology $5,500
300 Sanjay Sysadmin Technology $7,000
500 Randy DBA Technology $6,000

Operator ~ is for comparing with the regular expressions. If it matches the default action i.e print whole line will be performed. 3/13
Awk Example 7. Print number of employees in Technology department

The below example, checks if the department is Technology, if it is yes, in the Action, just increment the count variable, which was initialized with zero in the
BEGIN section.

$ awk 'BEGIN { count=0;}

$4 ~ /Technology/ { count++; }
END { print "Number of employees in Technology Dept =",count;}' employee.txt
Number of employees in Tehcnology Dept = 3

Then at the end of the process, just print the value of count which gives you the number of employees in Technology department.

Recommended Reading

Sed and Awk 101 Hacks, by Ramesh Natarajan. I spend several hours a day on UNIX / Linux environment dealing with text files (data,
config, and log files). I use Sed and Awk for all my my text manipulation work. Based on my Sed and Awk experience, Ive written Sed and Awk 101 Hacks
eBook that contains 101 practical examples on various advanced features of Sed and Awk that will enhance your UNIX / Linux life. Even if youve been using
Sed and Awk for several years and have not read this book, please do yourself a favor and read this book. Youll be amazed with the capabilities of Sed and
Awk utilities.

Additional Awk Articles

Awk User-defined Variables with 3 Practical Examples

8 Powerful Awk Built-in Variables FS, OFS, RS, ORS, NR, NF, FILENAME, FNR
7 Powerful Awk Operators Examples (Unary, Binary, Arithmetic, String, Assignment, Conditional, Reg-Ex Awk Operators)
4 Awk If Statement Examples ( if, if else, if else if, : ? )
Caught In the Loop? Awk While, Do While, For Loop, Break, Continue, Exit Examples

20 Tw eet 12 Like 31 Share Comment

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Tags: Awk ACTION Block, Awk BEGIN Block, Awk Begin End, Awk END Block, Awk Tutorial Examples, Linux Awk Examples, Linux Awk Tutorial, Unix
Awk Examples, Unix Awk Tutorial

{ 34 comments read them below or add one }

1 Steve Mills January 6, 2010 at 3:38 am 4/13
I have only just started reading these articles. So far I think they are well written and the explanations are clearly done with an awareness as to how they
might possibly be misunderstood and hence extra layers of detail are presented where that might happen. For example, pointing out that the tilde (~) is used
to compare with regular expressions when the reader might have otherwise expected an equals sign without the explanation the reader might have decided
that the tilde represented the same thing as an equals sign.

I shall be reading more.

Thanks for posting these articles.

Kind Regards

2 Daniel Reimann January 6, 2010 at 6:02 am

Thank you for the post here on awk. I use it frequently, but it is always good to have some updates and reminders. Happy New Year.

3 Lawrence January 7, 2010 at 4:34 am

awk is awesome! thanks for your sharing.

Best Regards,

4 Knusper January 9, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Hi Good article now I know what ark is, and what I could use it for well written. I follow you now on twitter!

5 Harsh January 10, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Thanks for posting a tutorial on awk with illustrated examples.

I Will be expecting other articles on awk

6 Ramesh Natarajan January 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm


Yeah. ~ can be little confusing in this context, if not explained properly. Thanks for you comment.


Yeah. Most other readers of the blog are in similar position like you. So, we are here to give constant updated and remainders of the functionality that they
already know.

@Lawrence, Harsh,

Thanks for the very nice comment. Im glad you liked this article.


Thanks for following us on twitter.

7 thalafan March 21, 2010 at 10:24 am

Nandraka Ulladhu!!!

I guess the example 2 can be done without a new line like below? Pattern as regex.

~/bin$ awk /Jason|Randy/ employee

200 Jason Developer Technology $5,500
500 Randy DBA Technology $6,000

And also what does the ; stands for? End of Pattern?

8 Andreia Amaral April 7, 2010 at 5:14 am


I want to use an if else statement like this:

if $10>10 print $0 > filename1
else print $0> filename2 5/13
but its not working it is not creating filename1 or filename2, how can I do this?

9 Ashu Agrawal August 6, 2010 at 10:31 am

Grt post.Thanks for making me understand the awk working

10 avinash October 1, 2010 at 7:30 am

hi, this is avinash.

suppose u have a emp table like this:
id name designation salary
1 avi manager 1000
2 ash manager 1500
3 nash manager 2000
4 varma trainee 500
5 chow trainee 600
6 hemanth trainee 800

using awk command, i hav to print manager total salary and trainee total salary.
i need a program.. can any one plz post it

11 vikas October 13, 2010 at 1:34 am

u can try this one.
awk BEGIN {man_sal=0;trainee_sal=0;}
$3 ~/manager/ {man_sal+=$NF}
/trainee/ {trainee_sal+=$NF}
END {print Total salary of managers and trainees are=man_sal,trainee_sal}

12 siva October 15, 2010 at 1:44 am

Hello forum members,

Thanks for AWK tutorials ,it was very help ful to me.

13 avinash October 19, 2010 at 5:12 am

@ vikas
thanks you

14 wish October 21, 2010 at 3:36 am

hi all,
if i have a issue file like:

101 add open vish iuo

if exit and login again i should get the increment of the first field like

102 add open vish iuo

15 mounika October 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm

its simply superb to understand

its is very useful for the beginning learners and its is very help in exams time also

so guys read and enjoy wd the unix

16 Lynda Zhang November 17, 2010 at 12:36 pm

This is very help. How about if I want to print the salary seperated by commas, e.g. 2,000 instead of 2000

17 Ikem December 30, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Youve made a little typo:

> Number of employees in _Tehcnology_ Dept = 3 6/13
18 sudha February 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm

vary vary healpul to every one

19 eben March 27, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Its very useful for beginers like me

20 kalandar April 7, 2011 at 8:58 am

I found this article to be very useful. Anybody who wants to know what an awk is , this will give a fair idea. Looking forward to similar articles on other
topics of unix.


21 Bhagyaraj April 24, 2011 at 1:38 am


Please try teach in Youtube to try differntly.
It will be more success.

Keep it up,
I need to take an exam on awk, let me see how much I can successed.

22 kernelkid June 10, 2011 at 6:48 am

very simple and easy to understand, thanks a lot, it help me a lot

23 liju June 14, 2011 at 3:05 am

good simple article

24 Marija June 30, 2011 at 9:03 am

I have read few geekstuff articles until now, explanations provided are the best I have ever seen so far! Great job Thanks a lot

25 Muslim July 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm


i have the question that how to using print command awk to sort or transpose this data from many coloums to 2 columns only
#input file
- - -
BEN 5,000 6,000 7,000 8,000 6,500 7,500 9,000
YONG 4,000 5,500 6,000 5,800 7,000 8,000 8,5000

# output should be as below.

BEN 5,000
BEN 6,000
BEN 7,000
BEN 8,000
BEN 6,500
BEN 7,500
BEN 9,000
YONG 4,000
YONG 5,500
YONG 6,000
YONG 5,800
YONG 7,000
YONG 8,000
YONG 8,5000
Anyone can help.thanks

26 nails carmody August 9, 2011 at 1:08 pm 7/13
I know its late, but


awk {
# skip the first two lines
if (NR == 1 || NR == 2)

for(i=2; i<=NF; i++)

printf("%s %s\n", $1, $i)
} ' datafile.txt

Nice site! I learned some new things about sed I didn't know.

27 Sudhanshu August 29, 2011 at 1:00 am

The article is simply awesome!!!

28 Kalim January 25, 2012 at 9:03 am

Very gud information for beginners. Thanks

29 Len Richards February 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

We have duplicate titles in our library database. I am able to find the duplicates but cant figure out how to print the line above that matches the regular
expression and that line also has the same expression. Each set of duplicates has a space between: example. I would match on SERSOL-EBK

2012 Joe ate my dog|SERSOL-EBK|122456

2012 Joe ate my dog|SERSOL-EBK|122459

2011 Joe ate my toaster|SERSOL-EBK|122433

2011 Joe ate my toaster|SERSOL-EBK|125567

30 Neha March 1, 2012 at 12:37 am

i want to capture these data through awk.

596583.46875(E) 4924298.34375(N)
geology@PERMANENT in PERMANENT (9)sand

604960.78125(E) 4922837.53125(N)
geology@PERMANENT in PERMANENT (6)shale

596911.40625(E) 4920512.15625(N)
geology@PERMANENT in PERMANENT (4)sandstone

the output should be :

insert into mytable values(596583.46875,4924298.34375,geology@PERMANENT,shale);
insert into mytable values(604960.78125,4922837.53125,geology@PERMANENT,shale);

any help would be grateful.

sorry i need to put shale within single codes so that i can insert into my table.insert into mytable

Thank u

31 subhojit777 June 30, 2012 at 12:55 am

Great article. Thanks you

32 Mimi July 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Thank you for this site you really saved me a lot of time. This is easy to follow and really helped me understand awk.

33 sudarshan July 17, 2012 at 7:38 am

Hi All, 8/13
I have a log file with the contents as below.

09:30:51 [00082] TIMER iatesystems.hub.logging.TimerLog: MPI_MxmRunMatch: 09:30:52 [00082] TIMER iatesystems.hub.logging.TimerLog:

09:30:53 [00082] TIMER iatesystems.hub.logging.TimerLog: MPI_MxmRunMatch:

This will have entities based on the timestamp shown above (i.e. 09:30:51, 09:30:52, etc).

Now my requirement is, I need to get the number of entries per an hour.
For example if the first record is with timestamp as 09:30:51.
Till 10:30:51 timestamps record I need to get the number of records.

Can you please help me to get this?


34 Steven August 13, 2012 at 8:54 am

Neha try this

suppose your data filename=log.txt
insert statements be put in insert.sql
awk BEGIN {str=insert into mytable values(;}
{if ((NR % 3)==1)
{ #print NR1 is: NR;

#print str1 is: instr;
else if ((NR % 3)==2)
{#print NR2 is:NR;
print instr >insert.sql;
else ((NR % 3)==0)
{# print NR3 is:NR;
str=insert into mytable values(;
END{} log.txt

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