I'm trying to remove all punctuation from a text file using the sed command, but I don't quite know how to.


1 Answer 1


If by "punctuation", you mean any of the characters in the set


(which is the set of "POSIX punctuation characters", written as [:punct:] in a regular expression) and if by "remove" you mean "delete completely", then it would be more efficient to do this with tr like so:

tr -d '[:punct:]' <file.in >file.out

This tells tr to delete all characters from the above set in its input stream, reading from a file called file.in and writing the result to some file file.out.

With sed, you would do the same thing with

sed 's/[[:punct:]]//g' <file.in >file.out

... but I would expect this to be slightly slower (possibly only noticeably so on large input data).

  • Though I in this case I'm usually interested in the words and replace the punctuation with spaces or new lines, as this makes the result better processable. So: tr '[[:punct:]]' ' ' or tr '[[:punct:]]' '\n' might help the OP better.
    – JdeHaan
    Feb 26, 2022 at 9:46
  • @JdeHaan The user in the question did not further specify what they wanted to do beyond removing the punctuation. Your tr command would be more correct if written as tr '[:punct:]' '[\n*]' (see the tr manual for that syntax). Feb 26, 2022 at 9:54

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