COL(1)                          User Commands                         COL(1)


col – filter reverse line feeds from input


col [options]


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.


-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.


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.


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


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


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


The col command is part of the util-linux package and is available
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
[email protected]  This page was obtained from the
project’s upstream Git repository
(git:// on
2014-12-30.  If you discover any rendering problems in this HTML ver‐
sion 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 man‐
ual page), send a mail to [email protected]

util-linux                        July 2014                           COL(1)


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