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Print out the pattern space (to the standard output). This command is usually only used in conjunction with the -n command-line option. Note: some implementations of SED, such as this one, will double-print lines when auto-print is not disabled and the p command is given. Other implementations will only print the line once. Both ways conform with the POSIX.2 standard, and so neither way can be considered to be in error. Portable SED scripts should thus avoid relying on either behavior; either use the -n option and explicitly print what you want, or avoid use of the p command (and also the p flag to the s command).
me@localhost:~$ sed 5p lq.txt
me@localhost:~$ sed -n 5p lq.txt
heh...unfortunately neither- I'd feel a lot less silly if it were a nice explainable reference.
Sadly it's just a carryover from an old email address that I used when I was in high school, and I'm just sort of used to typing it.