I need to paste two columns (in a file) to a very big file with an identical number of columns (length 48554). I have tried this

I have two files with columns separated by tabs. File 1 looks like this:

Header_1 header_2

0 23

1 25

and file 2 looks like this:

Header_3 header_4

2 24

3 26

What I want is this:

Header_1 header_2 Header_3 header_4

0 23 2 24

1 25 3 26

I have tried paste, e.g. this:

paste file1 file2 | pr -t -e24

  • but I get this:
Header_1 header_2

0 23

1 25 Header_3


2 24

3 26
  • i.e, the problem is that paste appends the new columns in file 2 to the bottom of the last column in file 1, not added side by side as two extra columns in the +5000 column matrix as I need.

    What am I doing wrong?


Although your delimeter looks more like a space than a tab, paste works fine for me.

Alternatives you could try

join <(nl file1) <(nl file2) | cut -d' ' -f2-5


awk '{ if (FNR==NR) {F[NR]=$1;G[NR]=$2; next}; {printf "%s\t%s\t%s\t%s\n", $1, $2, F[FNR], G[FNR]}}' file2 file1
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  • Thanks for the answer, but unfortunately none of these suggestions work. My delimiter in the actual files is indeed a tab, though it may be reproduced as a space here, but either way, the paste command returns identically useless output. – Christoffer Bugge Harder Oct 27 '19 at 22:59
  • Your suggestions here: > join <(nl file1) <(nl file2) | cut -d' ' -f2-5 gives this output: >Header_1 Header_2 >0 23 Your AWK suggestion gives this output: >Header_1 Header_2 Header_3 Header_4 >2 I made the files in excel, and saved them as tab-separated txt files - I have verified the hidden codes and tabular separations. It´s simply that nothing is working. :( – Christoffer Bugge Harder Oct 27 '19 at 23:06
  • How does your paste oneliner look? No matter how I try it, it either does nothing at all, or merges the top of the columns in file 2 to the bottom of columns in file1. – Christoffer Bugge Harder Oct 27 '19 at 23:08
  • just like this paste file1 file2 | pr -t s24 although the pr doesn't seem to do anything on my system...... – bu5hman Oct 28 '19 at 16:49

I can actually make it work in R by importing both files as tables/data frames:


and then using cbind simply

combined.txt <- cbind(file1, file2)

but I struggle to comprehend that there could be no simple unix feature that can accomplish the same that worked for me........

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