How can I use awk to remove all text after a certain character ";" that appears on every line of my text file? (I then need to run for loops on the text)

Jenny,Sarah,John;North Dakota


Aaron,Kathryn,Caitlin,Harris;New York
  • 1
    Please show us the actual text file, the devil's in the details with this kind of thing. – terdon Feb 28 '14 at 3:54
  • I gave an example now @terdon – Jenny Feb 28 '14 at 3:59

There are two general approaches.

  1. Set awk's field separator to that character. You can then get the parts you want as $1:

    $ echo "Today was cloudy; yesterday too" | awk -F';' '{print $1}'
    Today was cloudy
  2. Use gsub() to substitute it with an empty string:

    $ echo "Today was cloudy; yesterday too" | awk '{sub(/;.*/,""); print}'
    Today was cloudy

So, for your example:

$ awk -F';' '{print $1}' file



Here's an answer with sed -- since you're not really doing any field processing, awk is probably overkill.

sed 's/;.*//'
  • 1
    +1 but based on the OP's comments, I am assuming this is all part of a larger script. @Jenny, that's the kind of detail you should include in your questions by the way. – terdon Feb 28 '14 at 4:13

And also just cut ..

cut -d\; -f1 file

Sometimes you may want to replace all characters after a certain word with another string. For example:

original_string="abc blabla foo bar" and you want to replace words after blabla with 'hello world'

echo $original_string | sed -E 's/(.+ blabla) .+/\1 hello world/'

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