I would like to split a string into two halves and print them sequentially. For example:




Is there a simple way to do it, or it needs some string processing?

  • How do you have the incoming string? Variable? Stdin? Other? – Jeff Schaller May 30 '19 at 21:24
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    In a variable. It doesn't really matter, as anything can be worked out (stdin input can be put in a variable). – Gabriel Diego May 30 '19 at 21:27
  • It matters for efficiency, especially if it can be possibly-gigantic. And also for convenience. – Peter Cordes May 31 '19 at 10:36

Using parameter expansion and shell arithmetic:

The first half of the variable will be:


The second half of the variable will be:


so you could use:

printf '%s\n' "${var:0:${#var}/2}" "${var:${#var}/2}"

You could also use the following awk command:

awk 'BEGIN{FS=""}{for(i=1;i<=NF/2;i++)printf $i}{printf "\n"}{for(i=NF/2+1;i<=NF;i++){printf $i}{printf "\n"}}'

$ echo abcdef | awk 'BEGIN{FS=""}{for(i=1;i<=NF/2;i++)printf $i}{printf "\n"}{for(i=NF/2+1;i<=NF;i++){printf $i}{printf "\n"}}'
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  • Thanks for the response! – Gabriel Diego May 30 '19 at 21:19
  • concise and elegant solution. – Dudi Boy May 30 '19 at 21:32
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    You can get rid of the $((...)); the off and len part of the ${var:off:len} substitution are already evaluated as arithmetic expressions. Example: foo=01234567; echo "${foo:0:${#foo}/2} ${foo:${#foo}/2}". That's documented, and it's the same in zsh and ksh93 as in bash. – mosvy May 30 '19 at 21:47
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    Note: If the length of the string is odd, this will still split it into two parts, but the second will be a character longer. – peterh - Reinstate Monica May 31 '19 at 7:39

Using split, here strings and command substitution:

printf '%s\n' "$(split -n1/2 <<<$var)" "$(split -n2/2 <<<$var)"
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Another awk script can be:

echo abcdef | awk '{print substr($0,1,length/2); print substr($0,length/2+1)}'
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  • 1
    Note that it doesn't work with mawk or busybox awk because of the syntax ambiguity of division / and the /ERE/ operator, and the special case of () being optional for length (still those implementations are not POSIX compliant in that case). Using length() or length($0) here instead of length would help for those. You could also do awk 'BEGIN{half = int(length(ARGV[1]) / 2); print substr(ARGV[1], 1, half) ORS substr(ARGV[1], half+1)}' abcdef which would save the pipe and extra process and make it work even if the string contains newline characters. – Stéphane Chazelas May 31 '19 at 10:55

Python 3

s = input()  # Take one line of input from stdin.
x = len(s) // 2  # Get middle of string. "//" is floor division
print(s[:x], s[x:], sep="\n")  # Print "s" up to "x", then "s" past "x", joined on newlines.

For example,

$ echo abcdef | python3 -c 's = input(); x = len(s) // 2; print(s[:x], s[x:], sep="\n")'

If the string length is not an even number, the second line will be longer. E.g.

$ echo abcdefg | python3 -c 's = input(); x= len(s) // 2; print(s[:x], s[x:], sep="\n")'
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