Awk Cookbook


  • -F: To specify a file separator.
  • -f: To specify a file that contains awk script.
  • -v: To declare a variable.

Positional Variables

  • $0: refers to the current line
  • $1: refers to the value in the first column
  • $6: refers to the value in the sixth column

Example: print the second column of each row:

$ echo "1,2,3\n4,5,6" | awk -F, '{ print $2 }'

Example: print the first and third columns of each row:

$ echo "1,2,3\n4,5,6" | awk -F, '{ print $1","$3 }'

Built-in Variables

  • FS: input field separator, tells Awk how to split a record into different fields
  • OFS: output field separator, tells Awk how to print out a record
  • NF: number of fields in a record
    • Note: $NF refers to the last field;
    • Note: In Awk, there is a limit of 99 fields in a single line
  • NR: number of records
  • RS: record separator (by default it is the line break \n character)
  • ORS: output record separator (by default it is also the new line \n character)
  • FILENAME: the current file name

Built-in Functions

  • length: Return the lenght of a string, e.g if length($0) > 1 { ... }
  • index: Return the position of a substring in a given string, e.g. index("apple", "l") returns 4
  • substr: Return a substring of the given string, e.g. substr("apple", 1, 3) returns app
  • split: Split a string into an array, return the number of components, usage: split(string, array, separator), where separator should be a single character
  • tolower, toupper: convert strings to lowercases or uppercases

Summary of Data

Summing up the values in the second column:

$ echo "1,2,3\n4,5,6" | awk -F, '{ sum += $2 } END { print sum }'

Summing up the values in the second column if the first column is larger than 10:

$ echo "11,2\n4,1\n15,3\n8,2" | awk -F, '$1 > 10 { sum += $2 } END { print sum }'

Regular expressions are put between slashes. For example, /apple/ will match any string containing the apple.

$ echo "I have an apple\nI have an orange" | awk '/apple/' { print $0 }'
I have an apple

Using the match function if we want to get the position of where the pattern starts:

    regex = "[0-9]+";
    if (match($0, regex)) {
        print RSTART, RLENGTH

For example, given the following content 123ABC\nABC678, the above script will print:

1 3
4 3

Creating Time Strings

In GAWK, a strftime function is available for creating a string of the current time. For example, strftime("%y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S") returns something like 2020-06-01 12:30:12.

However, in AWK, this function is not available. However, we can use the date command in combination with the getline function to obtain a date/time string:

$ echo "Current date/time is" | awk 'BEGIN { "date \"+%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S\"" | getline a}{ print $0 " " a }'
Current date/time is 2020-06-08 12:36:40