How to use WC Command on Linux

The Linux wc command is a useful command that can come in handy if you ever want to know details like newline counts, byte counts, character counts etc for a file which is supplied as input. In this article, we will discuss 5 basic examples of this command.

List WC command options

WC command in unix or linux is used to find the number of lines, words and characters in a file. The syntax of wc command is shown below:

# wc [options] filenames

[su_note]You can use the following options with the wc command.
wc -l: print the newline counts
wc -w: print the word counts
wc -c: print the byte counts
wc -m: print the character counts
wc -L: print the length of the longest line
wc –help: display this help and exit
wc –version: output version information and exit[/su_note]

Let see how to use the wc command with few examples. Create the following file in your unix or linux operating system.

[rasho@Gandalf ~]# cat lintut.txt

Red Hat
Scientific Linux

WC Command Examples

The ‘wc‘ command without passing any parameter will display a basic result of ”lintut.txt‘ file. The three numbers shown below are 5 (number of lines), 7 (number of words) and 46 (numberof bytes) of the file.

[rasho@Gandalf ~]# wc lintut.txt

5 7 46 lintut.txt

Printing count of lines

This is the most commonly used operation to find the number of lines from a file. Run the below command to display the number of lines:

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

5 lintut.txt

Displaying the number of words.

Just use the -w option to find the count of words in a file. This is shown below:

[rasho@Gandalf ~]# wc -w lintut.txt

16 lintut.txt

We can use the -c and -m options to find the number of bytes and characters respectively in a file.

[rasho@Gandalf ~]# wc -c lintut.txt

46 lintut.txt
[rasho@Gandalf ~]# wc -m lintut.txt

46 lintut.txt

The -L option is used to print the number of characters in the longest line from a file.

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

16 lintut.txt

Show more wc options

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

[rasho@Gandalf ~]# 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.  A word is a non-zero-length sequence of characters
delimited by white space.
The options below may be used to select which counts are printed, always in
the following order: newline, word, character, byte, maximum line length.
  -c, --bytes            print the byte counts
  -m, --chars            print the character counts
  -l, --lines            print the newline counts
      --files0-from=F    read input from the files specified by
                           NUL-terminated names in file F;
                           If F is - then read names from standard input
  -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
GNU coreutils home page:>
General help using GNU software:>
For complete documentation, run: info coreutils 'wc invocation'

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