column(1) — Linux manual page


COLUMN(1)                     User Commands                    COLUMN(1)

NAME         top

       column - columnate lists

SYNOPSIS         top

       column [options] [file ...]

DESCRIPTION         top

       The column utility formats its input into multiple columns. The
       util support three modes:

       columns are filled before rows
           This is the default mode (required by backward

       rows are filled before columns
           This mode is enabled by option -x, --fillrows

           Determine the number of columns the input contains and create
           a table. This mode is enabled by option -t, --table and
           columns formatting is possible to modify by --table-*
           options. Use this mode if not sure. The output is aligned to
           the terminal width in interactive mode and the 80 columns in
           non-interactive mode (see --output-width for more details).

       Input is taken from file, or otherwise from standard input. Empty
       lines are ignored and all invalid multibyte sequences are encoded
       by x<hex> convention.

OPTIONS         top

       The argument columns for --table-* options is a comma separated
       list of the column names as defined by --table-columns, or names
       defined by --table-column or it’s column number in order as
       specified by input. It’s possible to mix names and numbers. The
       special placeholder '0' (e.g. -R0) may be used to specify all
       columns and '-1' (e.g. -R -1) to specify the last visible column.
       It’s possible to use ranges like '1-5' when addressing columns by

       -J, --json
           Use JSON output format to print the table, the option
           --table-columns is required and the option --table-name is

       -c, --output-width width
           Output is formatted to a width specified as number of
           characters. The original name of this option is --columns;
           this name is deprecated since v2.30. Note that input longer
           than width is not truncated by default. The default is a
           terminal width and the 80 columns in non-interactive mode.
           The column headers are never truncated.

           The placeholder "unlimited" (or 0) is possible to use to not
           restrict output width. This is recommended for example when
           output to the files rather than on terminal.

       -d, --table-noheadings
           Do not print header. This option allows the use of logical
           column names on the command line, but keeps the header hidden
           when printing the table.

       -o, --output-separator string
           Specify the columns delimiter for table output (default is
           two spaces).

       -s, --separator separators
           Specify the possible input item delimiters (default is

       -t, --table
           Determine the number of columns the input contains and create
           a table. Columns are delimited with whitespace, by default,
           or with the characters supplied using the --output-separator
           option. Table output is useful for pretty-printing.

       -C, --table-column properties
           Define one column by comma separated list of column
           attributes. This option can be used more than once, every use
           defines just one column. The properties replace some of
           --table- options. For example --table-column name=FOO,right
           define one column where text is aligned to right. The option
           is mutually exclusive to --table-columns.

           The currently supported attributes are:

               Specifies column name.

               The column text can be truncated when necessary. The same
               as --table-truncate.

               Right align text in the specified columns. The same as

               Specifies column width. The width is used as a hint only.
               The width is strictly followed only when strictwidth
               attribute is used too.

               Strictly follow column width= setting.

               Specify columns where is possible to ignore unusually
               long cells. See --table-noextreme for more details.

               Specify columns where is possible to use multi-line cell
               for long text when necessary. See --table-wrap.

               Don’t print specified columns. See --table-hide.

               Define column type for JSON output, Supported are string,
               number and boolean.

       -N, --table-columns names
           Specify the columns names by comma separated list of names.
           The names are used for the table header or to address column
           in option argument. See also --table-column.

       -l, --table-columns-limit number
           Specify maximal number of the input columns. The last column
           will contain all remaining line data if the limit is smaller
           than the number of the columns in the input data.

       -R, --table-right columns
           Right align text in the specified columns.

       -T, --table-truncate columns
           Specify columns where text can be truncated when necessary,
           otherwise very long table entries may be printed on multiple

       -E, --table-noextreme columns
           Specify columns where is possible to ignore unusually long
           (longer than average) cells when calculate column width. The
           option has impact to the width calculation and table
           formatting, but the printed text is not affected.

           The option is used for the last visible column by default.

       -e, --table-header-repeat
           Print header line for each page.

       -W, --table-wrap columns
           Specify columns where is possible to use multi-line cell for
           long text when necessary.

       -H, --table-hide columns
           Don’t print specified columns. The special placeholder '-'
           may be used to hide all unnamed columns (see

       -O, --table-order columns
           Specify columns order on output.

       -n, --table-name name
           Specify the table name used for JSON output. The default is

       -m, --table-maxout
           Fill all available space on output.

       -L, --keep-empty-lines
           Preserve whitespace-only lines in the input. The default is
           ignore empty lines at all. This option’s original name was
           --table-empty-lines but is now deprecated because it gives
           the false impression that the option only applies to table

       -r, --tree column
           Specify column to use tree-like output. Note that the
           circular dependencies and other anomalies in child and parent
           relation are silently ignored.

       -i, --tree-id column
           Specify column with line ID to create child-parent relation.

       -p, --tree-parent column
           Specify column with parent ID to create child-parent

       -x, --fillrows
           Fill rows before filling columns.

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

       -V, --version
           Print version and exit.

ENVIRONMENT         top

       The environment variable COLUMNS is used to determine the size of
       the screen if no other information is available.

HISTORY         top

       The column command appeared in 4.3BSD-Reno.

BUGS         top

       Version 2.23 changed the -s option to be non-greedy, for example:

           printf "a:b:c\n1::3\n" | column -t -s ':'

       Old output:

           a  b  c
           1  3

       New output (since util-linux 2.23):

           a  b  c
           1     3

       Historical versions of this tool indicated that "rows are filled
       before columns" by default, and that the -x option reverses this.
       This wording did not reflect the actual behavior, and it has
       since been corrected (see above). Other implementations of column
       may continue to use the older documentation, but the behavior
       should be identical in any case.

EXAMPLES         top

       Print fstab with header line and align number to the right:

           sed 's/#.*//' /etc/fstab | column --table --table-columns SOURCE,TARGET,TYPE,OPTIONS,PASS,FREQ --table-right PASS,FREQ

       Print fstab and hide unnamed columns:

           sed 's/#.*//' /etc/fstab | column --table --table-columns SOURCE,TARGET,TYPE --table-hide -

       Print a tree:

           echo -e '1 0 A\n2 1 AA\n3 1 AB\n4 2 AAA\n5 2 AAB' | column --tree-id 1 --tree-parent 2 --tree 3
           1  0  A
           2  1  |-AA
           4  2  | |-AAA
           5  2  | `-AAB
           3  1  `-AB

SEE ALSO         top

       colrm(1), ls(1), paste(1), sort(1)

REPORTING BUGS         top

       For bug reports, use the issue tracker at

AVAILABILITY         top

       The column command is part of the util-linux package which can be
       downloaded from Linux Kernel Archive
       <>. 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
       2023-12-22. (At that time, the date of the most recent commit
       that was found in the repository was 2023-12-14.) If you discover
       any rendering problems in this HTML version of the page, or you
       believe there is a better or more up-to-date source for the page,
       or you have corrections or improvements to the information in
       this COLOPHON (which is not part of the original manual page),
       send a mail to

util-linux 2.39.594-1e0ad      2023-07-19                      COLUMN(1)

Pages that refer to this page: colrm(1)