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Old 10-04-2011, 10:29 AM   #1
Registered: Aug 2011
Distribution: Linux Mint
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AWK: delete space between two fields while keep the format for other part

Dear Experts,

I have a file like:
column1   column2 column3      column4 column5
How could I delete the space between column2 and column3(to make them into a single field), while keep the spaces between other columns?

Please pay attention that the number of spaces between other columns are all different. What I need is to keep exactly same format for other parts of the file. That means the number of spaces between other columns should not be changed.

If I simply use:
awk '$2 =$2$3 {print}' FILENAME
I can indeed delete that space but that would destroy the original format, which is not what I am expecting.

So, How to do it easily with AWK?

I would appreciate to your kind help!

Last edited by cristalp; 10-04-2011 at 10:35 AM.
Old 10-04-2011, 11:29 AM   #2
David the H.
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awk is possibly not the best tool to use here. Since it's designed for breaking things up into fields, manipulation of the delimiters between the fields is sometimes not so easy to do, particularly when you only want to affect some of them.

I'd use sed in this case, since it targets the line as a whole.
sed -r 's/(^[^[:blank:]]+[[:blank:]]+[^[:blank:]]+)[[:blank:]]+/\1/' infile.txt
This assumes that each field is separated by whitespace. It's a simple regex that matches [linestart][nospaces][whitespace][nospaces][whitespace], and prints all but the last bit of whitespace back into the line, effectively removing that part.

There may be easier ways, but it's the first solution that came to mind.

Edit: D'oh! Just after posting I realized that there is a much easier way.
sed -r 's/[[:blank:]]+//2' infile.txt
The two at the end means the substitution only affects the second match on the line. So we just tell it to match contiguous spans of whitespace, and substitute the second match with nothing.

Last edited by David the H.; 10-04-2011 at 11:40 AM. Reason: as stated


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