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6 WC Command Examples to Count Number of Lines, Words, Characters in Linux

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The wc (word count) command in Unix/Linux operating systems is used to find out number of newline count, word count, byte and characters count in a files specified by the file arguments. The syntax of wc command as shown below.

# wc [options] filenames

The following are the options and usage provided by the command.

wc -l : Prints the number of lines in a file.
wc -w : prints the number of words in a file.
wc -c : Displays the count of bytes in a file.
wc -m : prints the count of characters from a file.
wc -L : prints only the length of the longest line in a file.

So, let’s see how we can use the ‘wc‘ command with their few available arguments and examples in this article. We have used the ‘tecmint.txt‘ file for testing the commands. Let’s find out the output of the file using cat command as shown below.

[root@tecmint ~]# cat tecmint.txt

Red Hat
CentOS
Fedora
Debian
Scientific Linux
OpenSuse
Ubuntu
Xubuntu
Linux Mint
Pearl Linux
Slackware
Mandriva

1. A Basic Example of WC Command

The ‘wc‘ command without passing any parameter will display a basic result of ”tecmint.txt‘ file. The three numbers shown below are 12 (number of lines), 16 (number of words) and 112 (number of bytes) of the file.

[root@tecmint ~]# wc tecmint.txt

12  16 112 tecmint.txt

2. Count Number of Lines

To count number of newlines in a file use the option ‘-l‘, which prints the number of lines from a given file. Say, the following command will display the count of newlines in a file. In the output the first filed assigned as count and second field is the name of file.

[root@tecmint ~]# wc -l tecmint.txt

12 tecmint.txt

3. Display Number of Words

Using ‘-w‘ argument with ‘wc‘ command prints the number of words in a file. Type the following command to count the words in a file.

[root@tecmint ~]# wc -w tecmint.txt

16 tecmint.txt

4. Count Number of Bytes and Characters

When using options ‘-c‘ and ‘-m‘ with ‘wc‘ command will print the total number of bytes and characters respectively in a file.

[root@tecmint ~]# wc -c tecmint.txt

112 tecmint.txt
[root@tecmint ~]# wc -m tecmint.txt

112 tecmint.txt

5. Display Length of Longest Line

The ‘wc‘ command allow an argument ‘-L‘, it can be used to print out the length of longest (number of characters) line in a file. So, we have the longest character line (‘Scientific Linux‘) in a file.

[root@tecmint ~]# wc -L tecmint.txt

16 tecmint.txt

6. Check More WC Options

For more information and help on the wc command, simple run the ‘wc –help‘ or ‘man wc‘ from the command line.

[root@tecmint ~]# wc --help

Usage: wc [OPTION]... [FILE]...
  or:  wc [OPTION]... --files0-from=F
Print newline, word, and byte counts for each FILE, and a total line if
more than one FILE is specified.  With no FILE, or when FILE is -,
read standard input.
  -c, --bytes            print the byte counts
  -m, --chars            print the character counts
  -l, --lines            print the newline counts
  -L, --max-line-length  print the length of the longest line
  -w, --words            print the word counts
      --help			display this help and exit
      --version			output version information and exit

Report wc bugs to bug-coreutils@gnu.org
GNU coreutils home page: <http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/>
General help using GNU software: <http://www.gnu.org/gethelp/>
For complete documentation, run: info coreutils 'wc invocation'

Ravi Saive

Owner at TecMint.com
Simple Word a Computer Geek and Linux Guru who loves to share tricks and tips on Internet. Most Of My Servers runs on Open Source Platform called Linux.

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2 Responses

  1. SRI says:

    Please tell me how to display number of words in each line by using wc command?

  2. Jayanto says:

    When I do a wc -l in a directory then the output is something like -
    1 File1.txt
    2 File2.txt
    3 File3.txt
    6 Total

    I do not want to display the last Total. How can we do that? Any insights..!

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