I'm trying to learn the basics and I have run into an issue with my script counting the characters of a user's input. Here is my script, can someone point out where I'm going wrong please?


echo "Enter a word!"    
len= echo $INPUT_STRING | wc -c 
echo "Your character length is " $len

every beginning is hard:

read INPUT
echo $INPUT
len=$(echo -n "$INPUT" | LC_ALL=C.UTF-8 wc -m)
echo $len

specifically, there must not be a space surrounding = and a separate command needs to be enclosed inside $(...). Also, you might want to write your variables in quotes " using this syntax "${INPUT}", this ensures that the variable is not accidentally concatenated with what follows and can contain special chars (e.g. newlines \n).

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    Thank you my code works now, and the additional help shall help me in the future. Thanks – Jack Slater Sep 18 '14 at 12:47
  • @Gnouc Thank you for this insightful edit! still learning... – Sebastian Sep 18 '14 at 13:07
  • sorry for future reference could you tell me what the -n does and LC_ALL=C.UTF-8 because I would like to know of its purpose. Thank you – Jack Slater Sep 19 '14 at 8:19
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    to find the meaning of a command line switch, try using the man command (in this case man echo: -n do not output trailing newline). Frequent invocation of man will advance your linux skills rapidly. For more info on LC_ALL, see this question/answer – Sebastian Sep 19 '14 at 8:34
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    copy from link: You generally run a command with LC_ALL=C to avoid the user's settings to interfere with your script. For instance, if you want [a-z] to match the 26 ASCII characters from a to z, you have to set LC_ALL=C – Sebastian Sep 19 '14 at 8:43

I think preferably would be to use


as otherwise the end of line character added by echo will be counted in as well. Unless that is what you want.

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  • I agree, it's shorter and faster. – Franki Sep 18 '14 at 15:55

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