col(1) — Linux manual page


COL(1)                          User Commands                         COL(1)

NAME         top

       col - filter reverse line feeds from input

SYNOPSIS         top

       col [options]

DESCRIPTION         top

       col filters out reverse (and half-reverse) line feeds so the output
       is in the correct order, with only forward and half-forward line
       feeds.  It also replaces any whitespace characters with tabs where
       possible.  This can be useful in processing the output of nroff(1)
       and tbl(1).

       col reads from standard input and writes to standard output.

OPTIONS         top

       -b, --no-backspaces
              Do not output any backspaces, printing only the last character
              written to each column position.

       -f, --fine
              Permit half-forward line feeds.  Normally characters destined
              for a half-line boundary are printed on the following line.

       -h, --tabs
              Output tabs instead of multiple spaces.

       -l, --lines number
              Buffer at least number lines in memory.  By default, 128 lines
              are buffered.

       -p, --pass
              Force unknown control sequences to be passed through
              unchanged.  Normally col will filter out any control sequences
              other than those recognized and interpreted by itself, which
              are listed below.

       -x, --spaces
              Output multiple spaces instead of tabs.

       -V, --version
              Display version information and exit.

       -H, --help
              Display help text and exit.

CONFORMING TO         top

       The col utility conforms to the Single UNIX Specification, Version 2.
       The -l option is an extension to the standard.

NOTES         top

       The control sequences for carriage motion that col understands and
       their decimal values are listed in the following table:

              ESC-7             reverse line feed (escape then 7)
              ESC-8             half reverse line feed (escape then 8)
              ESC-9             half forward line feed (escape then 9)
              backspace         moves back one column (8); ignored in the
                                first column
              newline           forward line feed (10); also does carriage
              carriage return   (13)
              shift in          shift to normal character set (15)
              shift out         shift to alternate character set (14)
              space             moves forward one column (32)
              tab               moves forward to next tab stop (9)
              vertical tab      reverse line feed (11)

       All unrecognized control characters and escape sequences are

       col keeps track of the character set as characters are read and makes
       sure the character set is correct when they are output.

       If the input attempts to back up to the last flushed line, col will
       display a warning message.

HISTORY         top

       A col command appeared in Version 6 AT&T UNIX.

SEE ALSO         top

       expand(1), nroff(1), tbl(1)

AVAILABILITY         top

       The col command is part of the util-linux package and is available
       from Linux Kernel Archive 

COLOPHON         top

       This page is part of the util-linux (a random collection of Linux
       utilities) project.  Information about the project can be found at 
       ⟨⟩.  If you have a
       bug report for this manual page, send it to  This page was obtained from the
       project's upstream Git repository
       ⟨git://⟩ on
       2020-08-13.  (At that time, the date of the most recent commit that
       was found in the repository was 2020-08-12.)  If you discover any
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       (which is not part of the original manual page), send a mail to

util-linux                        July 2014                           COL(1)

Pages that refer to this page: colcrt(1)grotty(1)