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11.3. Text Information Tools

wc Word count, count how many words you have in a text document. Can also be used to count the lines or bytes within the file.

Use the options -w for words, -l for lines and -c for bytes. Or simply run wc with no options to get all three.

Command syntax:

wc -option file.txt

style To run various readability tests on a particular text file. Will output scores on a number of different readability tests (with no options).

Command syntax:

style -options text_file
Note Find style in the diction package

This command is part of the diction package and does not appear to be used too often these days

cmp Determines whether or not two files differ, works on any type of file. Very similar to diff only it compares on the binary level instead of just the text.

diff Compares two text files and output a difference report (sometimes called a "diff") containing the text that differs between two files.

Can be used to create a 'patch' file (which can be used by patch).


diff file1.txt file2.txt

diff will output a '>' (followed by the line) for each line that isn't in the first file but is in the second file, and it will output a '<' (followed by the line) for each line that is in the first file but not in the second file.


Instead of giving a difference report, it outputs the files in two columns, side by side, separated by spaces.

diff3 Same as diff except for three files.


comm Compares two files, line-by-line and prints lines that are unique to file1 (1st column), unique to file 2 (2nd column) and common to both files (3rd column).

Use comm with the -1, -2, or -3 to suppress the printing of those particular lines. Simply run comm to have all three listed (ie. unique to files 1 and 2 and common to both).

Command syntax:

comm file1 file2

look To output a list of words in the system dictionary that begin with a given string -- this is useful for finding words that begin with a particular phrase or prefix.

Give the string as an argument; it is not case sensitive.

Command syntax:

look string

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