It is a simple problem. I have a csv file with multiple columns I would like to extract 3 columns and save the output to a text file.

sample of my dataset:

page_id     post_name   link        post_type       likes_count
5550296508  Ben Carson  www.cnn.com shared_story    192583
5830242058  John Smith  www.abc.com news_story      467
9485676544  Sara John   www.msc.com shared_story    462

I would like to select three columns and save them to a text file with a comma seperator.The desired output: (or any similar format that shows the columns in a neat way. it doesn't have to be exactly like this format)

"5550296508","Ben Carson","shared_story"
"5830242058","John Smith", "news_story" 
"9485676544", "Sara John",  "shared_story" 

I tried to use awk:

awk -F',' '{print $1,$2,$4}' Data.csv > output.txt

It returns this output with a blank space between the columns, I would like to replace the blank space with a comma:

page_id     post_name   post_type 
5550296508  Ben Carson  shared_story    
5830242058  John Smith  news_story   
9485676544  Sara John   shared_story 

I tried printf but I am not sure I am using the correct string because it doesn't return the output I want.

awk '{printf "%s,%s,%s", $1,$2,$4}' Data.csv > output.txt

using sed. This only replaces the first blank with a comma.

awk -F',' '{print $2,$5,$10}' Data.csv | sed 's/ /,/' > output.txt

2 Answers 2


You can use below command to separate it out with comma , :

awk '{print $1","$2","$4}' Data.csv > output.txt

Output Will be :

  • this worked, thanks! I just had to add -F','
    – leena
    Sep 22, 2019 at 23:48

Your input file is not comma-separated. I am guessing that it is tab-separated. If that is the case, then try:

$ awk -F'\t' '{print "\""$1,$2,$4"\""}' OFS='","' Data.csv
"5550296508","Ben Carson","shared_story"
"5830242058","John Smith","news_story"
"9485676544","Sara John","shared_story"

If that is not quite it, then try:

awk -F'\t+' '{print "\""$1,$2,$4"\""}' OFS='","' Data.csv

How it works

  • -F'\t' tells awk to use tab as the field separator. Alternatively, -F'\t+' tells awk to use any sequence of one or more field tabs as a field separator.

  • print "\""$1,$2,$4"\"" tells awk to print a double-quote, followed by field 1 followed by a field separator followed by field 2 followed by a field separator followed by field 4 followed by a double-quote.

  • OFS='","' tells awk to use "," as the field separator on output.

  • it works too. And the output looks very neat. Thank you John. I just had to replace the tab delimiter with a comma.-F','
    – leena
    Sep 22, 2019 at 23:50
  • @leena Very good. Your observation is curious, though: Your sample input, as shown in the question ("sample of my dataset"), has no commas in it all.
    – John1024
    Sep 23, 2019 at 0:21
  • 1
    yes I didn't reflect the sample dataset in the best way. Thanks for your help
    – leena
    Sep 23, 2019 at 0:31

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