input_file (columns are tab delimited, only column 4 contains spaces)


A B C D;<>X;<>Y 0
C D E F;<>Z;<>X 1


A B C D;<>X;<>Y;<>apple=0
C D E F;<>Z;<>X;<>apple=1

I would like to merge the last column of input_file with the second last column and separate the value of last column with ";" and a tag "apple=" in second last column (just like in column number 4 of input_file). Hence that output_file has one less column. It is also necessary to keep the formatting output file to be intact.As all the columns are tab delimited, but the values in column 4 has spaces too (D;<>X;<>Y).

Hence I want to keep all the field separators of input file as such, just want to merge the value of last column in the second last with a tag (apple=). Thanks

2 Answers 2


changing the last but one field and removing the last field:

$ awk '{$(NF-1)=$(NF-1)";<>apple="$NF;$NF="";}1' OFS="\t" file

The easiest way is probably with awk:

awk 'BEGIN {FS=OFS="\t"} { $4 = $4 ";<>apple="$5; print $1, $2, $3, $4 }'

The BEGIN block ensures that tab is used as input field separator as well as output separator.

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