This is Info file gawk.info, produced by Makeinfo-1.54 from the input
file gawk.texi.

   This file documents `awk', a program that you can use to select
particular records in a file and perform operations upon them.

   This is Edition 0.15 of `The GAWK Manual',
for the 2.15 version of the GNU implementation
of AWK.

   Copyright (C) 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

   Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this
manual provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are
preserved on all copies.

   Permission is granted to copy and distribute modified versions of
this manual under the conditions for verbatim copying, provided that
the entire resulting derived work is distributed under the terms of a
permission notice identical to this one.

   Permission is granted to copy and distribute translations of this
manual into another language, under the above conditions for modified
versions, except that this permission notice may be stated in a
translation approved by the Foundation.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Top,  Next: Preface,  Prev: (dir),  Up: (dir)

General Introduction

   This file documents `awk', a program that you can use to select
particular records in a file and perform operations upon them.

   This is Edition 0.15 of `The GAWK Manual',
for the 2.15 version of the GNU implementation
of AWK.

* Menu:

* Preface::                     What you can do with `awk'; brief history
                                and acknowledgements.
* Copying::                     Your right to copy and distribute `gawk'.
* This Manual::                 Using this manual.
                                Includes sample input files that you can use.
* Getting Started::             A basic introduction to using `awk'.
                                How to run an `awk' program.
                                Command line syntax.
* Reading Files::               How to read files and manipulate fields.
* Printing::                    How to print using `awk'.  Describes the
                                `print' and `printf' statements.
                                Also describes redirection of output.
* One-liners::                  Short, sample `awk' programs.
* Patterns::                    The various types of patterns
                                explained in detail.
* Actions::                     The various types of actions are
                                introduced here.  Describes
                                expressions and the various operators in
                                detail.  Also describes comparison expressions.
* Expressions::                 Expressions are the basic building
                                blocks of statements.
* Statements::                  The various control statements are
                                described in detail.
* Arrays::                      The description and use of arrays.
                                Also includes array-oriented control
* Built-in::                    The built-in functions are summarized here.
* User-defined::                User-defined functions are described in detail.
* Built-in Variables::          Built-in Variables
* Command Line::                How to run `gawk'.
* Language History::            The evolution of the `awk' language.
* Installation::                Installing `gawk' under
                                various operating systems.
* Gawk Summary::                `gawk' Options and Language Summary.
* Sample Program::              A sample `awk' program with a
                                complete explanation.
* Bugs::                        Reporting Problems and Bugs.
* Notes::                       Something about the
                                implementation of `gawk'.
* Glossary::                    An explanation of some unfamiliar terms.
* Index::

File: gawk.info,  Node: Preface,  Next: Copying,  Prev: Top,  Up: Top


   If you are like many computer users, you would frequently like to
make changes in various text files wherever certain patterns appear, or
extract data from parts of certain lines while discarding the rest.  To
write a program to do this in a language such as C or Pascal is a
time-consuming inconvenience that may take many lines of code.  The job
may be easier with `awk'.

   The `awk' utility interprets a special-purpose programming language
that makes it possible to handle simple data-reformatting jobs easily
with just a few lines of code.

   The GNU implementation of `awk' is called `gawk'; it is fully upward
compatible with the System V Release 4 version of `awk'.  `gawk' is
also upward compatible with the POSIX (draft) specification of the
`awk' language.  This means that all properly written `awk' programs
should work with `gawk'.  Thus, we usually don't distinguish between
`gawk' and other `awk' implementations in this manual.

   This manual teaches you what `awk' does and how you can use `awk'
effectively.  You should already be familiar with basic system commands
such as `ls'.  Using `awk' you can:

   * manage small, personal databases

   * generate reports

   * validate data

   * produce indexes, and perform other document preparation tasks

   * even experiment with algorithms that can be adapted later to other
     computer languages

* Menu:

* History::                     The history of `gawk' and
                                `awk'.  Acknowledgements.

File: gawk.info,  Node: History,  Prev: Preface,  Up: Preface

History of `awk' and `gawk'

   The name `awk' comes from the initials of its designers: Alfred V.
Aho, Peter J. Weinberger, and Brian W. Kernighan.  The original version
of `awk' was written in 1977.  In 1985 a new version made the
programming language more powerful, introducing user-defined functions,
multiple input streams, and computed regular expressions.  This new
version became generally available with System V Release 3.1.  The
version in System V Release 4 added some new features and also cleaned
up the behavior in some of the "dark corners" of the language.  The
specification for `awk' in the POSIX Command Language and Utilities
standard further clarified the language based on feedback from both the
`gawk' designers, and the original `awk' designers.

   The GNU implementation, `gawk', was written in 1986 by Paul Rubin
and Jay Fenlason, with advice from Richard Stallman.  John Woods
contributed parts of the code as well.  In 1988 and 1989, David
Trueman, with help from Arnold Robbins, thoroughly reworked `gawk' for
compatibility with the newer `awk'.  Current development (1992) focuses
on bug fixes, performance improvements, and standards compliance.

   We need to thank many people for their assistance in producing this
manual.  Jay Fenlason contributed many ideas and sample programs.
Richard Mlynarik and Robert J. Chassell gave helpful comments on early
drafts of this manual.  The paper `A Supplemental Document for `awk''
by John W.  Pierce of the Chemistry Department at UC San Diego,
pinpointed several issues relevant both to `awk' implementation and to
this manual, that would otherwise have escaped us.  David Trueman, Pat
Rankin, and Michal Jaegermann also contributed sections of the manual.

   The following people provided many helpful comments on this edition
of the manual: Rick Adams, Michael Brennan, Rich Burridge, Diane Close,
Christopher ("Topher") Eliot, Michael Lijewski, Pat Rankin, Miriam
Robbins, and Michal Jaegermann.  Robert J. Chassell provided much
valuable advice on the use of Texinfo.

   Finally, we would like to thank Brian Kernighan of Bell Labs for
invaluable assistance during the testing and debugging of `gawk', and
for help in clarifying numerous points about the language.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Copying,  Next: This Manual,  Prev: Preface,  Up: Top


                         Version 2, June 1991

     Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
     675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
     Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
     of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.


   The licenses for most software are designed to take away your
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   When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
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   To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid
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                                NO WARRANTY



                      END OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS

How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

   If you develop a new program, and you want it to be of the greatest
possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it
free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these

   To do so, attach the following notices to the program.  It is safest
to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively
convey the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least
the "copyright" line and a pointer to where the full notice is found.

     Copyright (C) 19YY  NAME OF AUTHOR
     This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
     it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
     the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
     (at your option) any later version.
     This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
     but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
     GNU General Public License for more details.
     You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
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   Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper

   If the program is interactive, make it output a short notice like
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     Gnomovision version 69, Copyright (C) 19YY NAME OF AUTHOR
     Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details
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   The hypothetical commands `show w' and `show c' should show the
appropriate parts of the General Public License.  Of course, the
commands you use may be called something other than `show w' and `show
c'; they could even be mouse-clicks or menu items--whatever suits your

   You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or
your school, if any, to sign a "copyright disclaimer" for the program,
if necessary.  Here is a sample; alter the names:

     Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program
     `Gnomovision' (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.
     SIGNATURE OF TY COON, 1 April 1989
     Ty Coon, President of Vice

   This General Public License does not permit incorporating your
program into proprietary programs.  If your program is a subroutine
library, you may consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary
applications with the library.  If this is what you want to do, use the
GNU Library General Public License instead of this License.

File: gawk.info,  Node: This Manual,  Next: Getting Started,  Prev: Copying,  Up: Top

Using this Manual

   The term `awk' refers to a particular program, and to the language
you use to tell this program what to do.  When we need to be careful,
we call the program "the `awk' utility" and the language "the `awk'
language."  The term `gawk' refers to a version of `awk' developed as
part the GNU project.  The purpose of this manual is to explain both the
`awk' language and how to run the `awk' utility.

   While concentrating on the features of `gawk', the manual will also
attempt to describe important differences between `gawk' and other
`awk' implementations.  In particular, any features that are not in the
POSIX standard for `awk' will be noted.

   The term "`awk' program" refers to a program written by you in the
`awk' programming language.

   *Note Getting Started with `awk': Getting Started, for the bare
essentials you need to know to start using `awk'.

   Some useful "one-liners" are included to give you a feel for the
`awk' language (*note Useful "One-liners": One-liners.).

   A sample `awk' program has been provided for you (*note Sample

   If you find terms that you aren't familiar with, try looking them up
in the glossary (*note Glossary::.).

   The entire `awk' language is summarized for quick reference in *Note
`gawk' Summary: Gawk Summary.  Look there if you just need to refresh
your memory about a particular feature.

   Most of the time complete `awk' programs are used as examples, but in
some of the more advanced sections, only the part of the `awk' program
that illustrates the concept being described is shown.

* Menu:

* Sample Data Files::           Sample data files for use in the `awk'
                                programs illustrated in this manual.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Sample Data Files,  Prev: This Manual,  Up: This Manual

Data Files for the Examples

   Many of the examples in this manual take their input from two sample
data files.  The first, called `BBS-list', represents a list of
computer bulletin board systems together with information about those
systems.  The second data file, called `inventory-shipped', contains
information about shipments on a monthly basis.  Each line of these
files is one "record".

   In the file `BBS-list', each record contains the name of a computer
bulletin board, its phone number, the board's baud rate, and a code for
the number of hours it is operational.  An `A' in the last column means
the board operates 24 hours a day.  A `B' in the last column means the
board operates evening and weekend hours, only.  A `C' means the board
operates only on weekends.

     aardvark     555-5553     1200/300          B
     alpo-net     555-3412     2400/1200/300     A
     barfly       555-7685     1200/300          A
     bites        555-1675     2400/1200/300     A
     camelot      555-0542     300               C
     core         555-2912     1200/300          C
     fooey        555-1234     2400/1200/300     B
     foot         555-6699     1200/300          B
     macfoo       555-6480     1200/300          A
     sdace        555-3430     2400/1200/300     A
     sabafoo      555-2127     1200/300          C

   The second data file, called `inventory-shipped', represents
information about shipments during the year.  Each record contains the
month of the year, the number of green crates shipped, the number of
red boxes shipped, the number of orange bags shipped, and the number of
blue packages shipped, respectively.  There are 16 entries, covering
the 12 months of one year and 4 months of the next year.

     Jan  13  25  15 115
     Feb  15  32  24 226
     Mar  15  24  34 228
     Apr  31  52  63 420
     May  16  34  29 208
     Jun  31  42  75 492
     Jul  24  34  67 436
     Aug  15  34  47 316
     Sep  13  55  37 277
     Oct  29  54  68 525
     Nov  20  87  82 577
     Dec  17  35  61 401
     Jan  21  36  64 620
     Feb  26  58  80 652
     Mar  24  75  70 495
     Apr  21  70  74 514

   If you are reading this in GNU Emacs using Info, you can copy the
regions of text showing these sample files into your own test files.
This way you can try out the examples shown in the remainder of this
document.  You do this by using the command `M-x write-region' to copy
text from the Info file into a file for use with `awk' (*Note Misc File
Ops: (emacs)Misc File Ops, for more information).  Using this
information, create your own `BBS-list' and `inventory-shipped' files,
and practice what you learn in this manual.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Getting Started,  Next: Reading Files,  Prev: This Manual,  Up: Top

Getting Started with `awk'

   The basic function of `awk' is to search files for lines (or other
units of text) that contain certain patterns.  When a line matches one
of the patterns, `awk' performs specified actions on that line.  `awk'
keeps processing input lines in this way until the end of the input
file is reached.

   When you run `awk', you specify an `awk' "program" which tells `awk'
what to do.  The program consists of a series of "rules".  (It may also
contain "function definitions", but that is an advanced feature, so we
will ignore it for now.  *Note User-defined Functions: User-defined.)
Each rule specifies one pattern to search for, and one action to
perform when that pattern is found.

   Syntactically, a rule consists of a pattern followed by an action.
The action is enclosed in curly braces to separate it from the pattern.
Rules are usually separated by newlines.  Therefore, an `awk' program
looks like this:


* Menu:

* Very Simple::                 A very simple example.
* Two Rules::                   A less simple one-line example with two rules.
* More Complex::                A more complex example.
* Running gawk::                How to run `gawk' programs;
                                includes command line syntax.
* Comments::                    Adding documentation to `gawk' programs.
* Statements/Lines::            Subdividing or combining statements into lines.
* When::                        When to use `gawk' and
                                when to use other things.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Very Simple,  Next: Two Rules,  Prev: Getting Started,  Up: Getting Started

A Very Simple Example

   The following command runs a simple `awk' program that searches the
input file `BBS-list' for the string of characters: `foo'.  (A string
of characters is usually called, a "string".  The term "string" is
perhaps based on similar usage in English, such as "a string of
pearls," or, "a string of cars in a train.")

     awk '/foo/ { print $0 }' BBS-list

When lines containing `foo' are found, they are printed, because
`print $0' means print the current line.  (Just `print' by itself means
the same thing, so we could have written that instead.)

   You will notice that slashes, `/', surround the string `foo' in the
actual `awk' program.  The slashes indicate that `foo' is a pattern to
search for.  This type of pattern is called a "regular expression", and
is covered in more detail later (*note Regular Expressions as Patterns:
Regexp.).  There are single-quotes around the `awk' program so that the
shell won't interpret any of it as special shell characters.

   Here is what this program prints:

     fooey        555-1234     2400/1200/300     B
     foot         555-6699     1200/300          B
     macfoo       555-6480     1200/300          A
     sabafoo      555-2127     1200/300          C

   In an `awk' rule, either the pattern or the action can be omitted,
but not both.  If the pattern is omitted, then the action is performed
for *every* input line.  If the action is omitted, the default action
is to print all lines that match the pattern.

   Thus, we could leave out the action (the `print' statement and the
curly braces) in the above example, and the result would be the same:
all lines matching the pattern `foo' would be printed.  By comparison,
omitting the `print' statement but retaining the curly braces makes an
empty action that does nothing; then no lines would be printed.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Two Rules,  Next: More Complex,  Prev: Very Simple,  Up: Getting Started

An Example with Two Rules

   The `awk' utility reads the input files one line at a time.  For
each line, `awk' tries the patterns of each of the rules.  If several
patterns match then several actions are run, in the order in which they
appear in the `awk' program.  If no patterns match, then no actions are

   After processing all the rules (perhaps none) that match the line,
`awk' reads the next line (however, *note The `next' Statement: Next
Statement.).  This continues until the end of the file is reached.

   For example, the `awk' program:

     /12/  { print $0 }
     /21/  { print $0 }

contains two rules.  The first rule has the string `12' as the pattern
and `print $0' as the action.  The second rule has the string `21' as
the pattern and also has `print $0' as the action.  Each rule's action
is enclosed in its own pair of braces.

   This `awk' program prints every line that contains the string `12'
*or* the string `21'.  If a line contains both strings, it is printed
twice, once by each rule.

   If we run this program on our two sample data files, `BBS-list' and
`inventory-shipped', as shown here:

     awk '/12/ { print $0 }
          /21/ { print $0 }' BBS-list inventory-shipped

we get the following output:

     aardvark     555-5553     1200/300          B
     alpo-net     555-3412     2400/1200/300     A
     barfly       555-7685     1200/300          A
     bites        555-1675     2400/1200/300     A
     core         555-2912     1200/300          C
     fooey        555-1234     2400/1200/300     B
     foot         555-6699     1200/300          B
     macfoo       555-6480     1200/300          A
     sdace        555-3430     2400/1200/300     A
     sabafoo      555-2127     1200/300          C
     sabafoo      555-2127     1200/300          C
     Jan  21  36  64 620
     Apr  21  70  74 514

Note how the line in `BBS-list' beginning with `sabafoo' was printed
twice, once for each rule.

File: gawk.info,  Node: More Complex,  Next: Running gawk,  Prev: Two Rules,  Up: Getting Started

A More Complex Example

   Here is an example to give you an idea of what typical `awk'
programs do.  This example shows how `awk' can be used to summarize,
select, and rearrange the output of another utility.  It uses features
that haven't been covered yet, so don't worry if you don't understand
all the details.

     ls -l | awk '$5 == "Nov" { sum += $4 }
                  END { print sum }'

   This command prints the total number of bytes in all the files in the
current directory that were last modified in November (of any year).
(In the C shell you would need to type a semicolon and then a backslash
at the end of the first line; in a POSIX-compliant shell, such as the
Bourne shell or the Bourne-Again shell, you can type the example as

   The `ls -l' part of this example is a command that gives you a
listing of the files in a directory, including file size and date.  Its
output looks like this:

     -rw-r--r--  1 close        1933 Nov  7 13:05 Makefile
     -rw-r--r--  1 close       10809 Nov  7 13:03 gawk.h
     -rw-r--r--  1 close         983 Apr 13 12:14 gawk.tab.h
     -rw-r--r--  1 close       31869 Jun 15 12:20 gawk.y
     -rw-r--r--  1 close       22414 Nov  7 13:03 gawk1.c
     -rw-r--r--  1 close       37455 Nov  7 13:03 gawk2.c
     -rw-r--r--  1 close       27511 Dec  9 13:07 gawk3.c
     -rw-r--r--  1 close        7989 Nov  7 13:03 gawk4.c

The first field contains read-write permissions, the second field
contains the number of links to the file, and the third field
identifies the owner of the file.  The fourth field contains the size
of the file in bytes.  The fifth, sixth, and seventh fields contain the
month, day, and time, respectively, that the file was last modified.
Finally, the eighth field contains the name of the file.

   The `$5 == "Nov"' in our `awk' program is an expression that tests
whether the fifth field of the output from `ls -l' matches the string
`Nov'.  Each time a line has the string `Nov' in its fifth field, the
action `{ sum += $4 }' is performed.  This adds the fourth field (the
file size) to the variable `sum'.  As a result, when `awk' has finished
reading all the input lines, `sum' is the sum of the sizes of files
whose lines matched the pattern.  (This works because `awk' variables
are automatically initialized to zero.)

   After the last line of output from `ls' has been processed, the
`END' rule is executed, and the value of `sum' is printed.  In this
example, the value of `sum' would be 80600.

   These more advanced `awk' techniques are covered in later sections
(*note Overview of Actions: Actions.).  Before you can move on to more
advanced `awk' programming, you have to know how `awk' interprets your
input and displays your output.  By manipulating fields and using
`print' statements, you can produce some very useful and spectacular
looking reports.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Running gawk,  Next: Comments,  Prev: More Complex,  Up: Getting Started

How to Run `awk' Programs

   There are several ways to run an `awk' program.  If the program is
short, it is easiest to include it in the command that runs `awk', like


where PROGRAM consists of a series of patterns and actions, as
described earlier.

   When the program is long, it is usually more convenient to put it in
a file and run it with a command like this:


* Menu:

* One-shot::                    Running a short throw-away `awk' program.
* Read Terminal::               Using no input files (input from
                                terminal instead).
* Long::                        Putting permanent `awk' programs in files.
* Executable Scripts::          Making self-contained `awk' programs.

File: gawk.info,  Node: One-shot,  Next: Read Terminal,  Prev: Running gawk,  Up: Running gawk

One-shot Throw-away `awk' Programs

   Once you are familiar with `awk', you will often type simple
programs at the moment you want to use them.  Then you can write the
program as the first argument of the `awk' command, like this:


where PROGRAM consists of a series of PATTERNS and ACTIONS, as
described earlier.

   This command format instructs the shell to start `awk' and use the
PROGRAM to process records in the input file(s).  There are single
quotes around PROGRAM so that the shell doesn't interpret any `awk'
characters as special shell characters.  They also cause the shell to
treat all of PROGRAM as a single argument for `awk' and allow PROGRAM
to be more than one line long.

   This format is also useful for running short or medium-sized `awk'
programs from shell scripts, because it avoids the need for a separate
file for the `awk' program.  A self-contained shell script is more
reliable since there are no other files to misplace.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Read Terminal,  Next: Long,  Prev: One-shot,  Up: Running gawk

Running `awk' without Input Files

   You can also run `awk' without any input files.  If you type the
command line:

     awk 'PROGRAM'

then `awk' applies the PROGRAM to the "standard input", which usually
means whatever you type on the terminal.  This continues until you
indicate end-of-file by typing `Control-d'.

   For example, if you execute this command:

     awk '/th/'

whatever you type next is taken as data for that `awk' program.  If you
go on to type the following data:


then `awk' prints this output:


as matching the pattern `th'.  Notice that it did not recognize
`Thomas' as matching the pattern.  The `awk' language is "case
sensitive", and matches patterns exactly.  (However, you can override
this with the variable `IGNORECASE'.  *Note Case-sensitivity in
Matching: Case-sensitivity.)

File: gawk.info,  Node: Long,  Next: Executable Scripts,  Prev: Read Terminal,  Up: Running gawk

Running Long Programs

   Sometimes your `awk' programs can be very long.  In this case it is
more convenient to put the program into a separate file.  To tell `awk'
to use that file for its program, you type:


   The `-f' instructs the `awk' utility to get the `awk' program from
the file SOURCE-FILE.  Any file name can be used for SOURCE-FILE.  For
example, you could put the program:


into the file `th-prog'.  Then this command:

     awk -f th-prog

does the same thing as this one:

     awk '/th/'

which was explained earlier (*note Running `awk' without Input Files:
Read Terminal.).  Note that you don't usually need single quotes around
the file name that you specify with `-f', because most file names don't
contain any of the shell's special characters.  Notice that in
`th-prog', the `awk' program did not have single quotes around it.  The
quotes are only needed for programs that are provided on the `awk'
command line.

   If you want to identify your `awk' program files clearly as such,
you can add the extension `.awk' to the file name.  This doesn't affect
the execution of the `awk' program, but it does make "housekeeping"

File: gawk.info,  Node: Executable Scripts,  Prev: Long,  Up: Running gawk

Executable `awk' Programs

   Once you have learned `awk', you may want to write self-contained
`awk' scripts, using the `#!' script mechanism.  You can do this on
many Unix systems (1) (and someday on GNU).

   For example, you could create a text file named `hello', containing
the following (where `BEGIN' is a feature we have not yet discussed):

     #! /bin/awk -f
     # a sample awk program
     BEGIN    { print "hello, world" }

After making this file executable (with the `chmod' command), you can
simply type:


at the shell, and the system will arrange to run `awk' (2) as if you
had typed:

     awk -f hello

Self-contained `awk' scripts are useful when you want to write a
program which users can invoke without knowing that the program is
written in `awk'.

   If your system does not support the `#!' mechanism, you can get a
similar effect using a regular shell script.  It would look something
like this:

     : The colon makes sure this script is executed by the Bourne shell.
     awk 'PROGRAM' "$@"

   Using this technique, it is *vital* to enclose the PROGRAM in single
quotes to protect it from interpretation by the shell.  If you omit the
quotes, only a shell wizard can predict the results.

   The `"$@"' causes the shell to forward all the command line
arguments to the `awk' program, without interpretation.  The first
line, which starts with a colon, is used so that this shell script will
work even if invoked by a user who uses the C shell.

   ---------- Footnotes ----------

   (1)  The `#!' mechanism works on Unix systems derived from Berkeley
Unix, System V Release 4, and some System V Release 3 systems.

   (2)  The line beginning with `#!' lists the full pathname of an
interpreter to be run, and an optional initial command line argument to
pass to that interpreter.  The operating system then runs the
interpreter with the given argument and the full argument list of the
executed program.  The first argument in the list is the full pathname
of the `awk' program.  The rest of the argument list will either be
options to `awk', or data files, or both.

File: gawk.info,  Node: Comments,  Next: Statements/Lines,  Prev: Running gawk,  Up: Getting Started

Comments in `awk' Programs

   A "comment" is some text that is included in a program for the sake
of human readers, and that is not really part of the program.  Comments
can explain what the program does, and how it works.  Nearly all
programming languages have provisions for comments, because programs are
typically hard to understand without their extra help.

   In the `awk' language, a comment starts with the sharp sign
character, `#', and continues to the end of the line.  The `awk'
language ignores the rest of a line following a sharp sign.  For
example, we could have put the following into `th-prog':

     # This program finds records containing the pattern `th'.  This is how
     # you continue comments on additional lines.

   You can put comment lines into keyboard-composed throw-away `awk'
programs also, but this usually isn't very useful; the purpose of a
comment is to help you or another person understand the program at a
later time.