nl (Unix)

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nl
Operating systemUnix and Unix-like
TypeCommand
Licensecoreutils: GPLv3+

nl is a Unix utility for numbering lines, either from a file or from standard input, reproducing output on standard output.

History[edit]

nl is part of the X/Open Portability Guide since issue 2 of 1987. It was inherited into the first version of POSIX.1 and the Single Unix Specification.[1] It first appeared in System V release 2.[2]

The version of nl bundled in GNU coreutils was written by Scott Bartram and David MacKenzie.[3]

Syntax[edit]

The command has a number of switches:

  • a - number all lines
  • t - number lines with printable text only
  • n - no line numbering
  • string - number only those lines containing the regular expression defined in the string supplied.

The default applied switch is t.

nl also supports some command line options.

Example[edit]

 $ nl tf
     1  echo press cr
     2  read cr
     3  done

The following example numbers only the lines that begin with a capital letter A (matching on the regular expression /^A/). filename is optional.

$ nl -b p^A filename
       apple
    1  Apple
       BANANA
    2  Allspice
       strawberry

It can be useful as an alternative to grep -n:

$ cat somefile
aaaa
bbbb
cccc
dddc
$ nl somefile | grep cccc
    3 cccc

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ nl – Commands & Utilities Reference, The Single UNIX Specification, Issue 7 from The Open Group
  2. ^ nl(1) – FreeBSD General Commands Manual
  3. ^ nl(1) – Linux General Commands Manual

External links[edit]