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HP-UX 11i Version 3: February 2007

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paste — merge same lines of several files or subsequent lines of one file


paste file1 file2 ...

paste -d list file1 file2 ...

paste -s [-d list] file1 file2 ...


In the first two forms, paste concatenates corresponding lines of the given input files file1, file2, etc. It treats each file as a column or columns in a table and pastes them together horizontally (parallel merging). In other words, it is the horizontal counterpart of cat(1) which concatenates vertically; i.e., one file after the other. In the -s option form above, paste replaces the function of an older command with the same name by combining subsequent lines of the input file (serial merging). In all cases, lines are glued together with the tab character, or with characters from an optionally specified list. Output is to standard output, so paste can be used as the start of a pipe, or as a filter if - is used instead of a file name.

paste recognizes the following options and command-line arguments:


Without this option, the new-line characters of all but the last file (or last line in case of the -s option) are replaced by a tab character. This option allows replacing the tab character by one or more alternate characters (see below).


One or more characters immediately following -d replace the default tab as the line concatenation character. The list is used circularly; i.e., when exhausted, it is reused. In parallel merging (that is, no -s option), the lines from the last file are always terminated with a new-line character, not from the list. The list can contain the special escape sequences: \n (new-line), \t (tab), \\ (backslash), and \0 (empty string, not a null character). Quoting may be necessary if characters have special meaning to the shell. (For example, to get one backslash, use -d"\\\\" ).


Merge subsequent lines rather than one from each input file. Use tab for concatenation, unless a list is specified with the -d option. Regardless of the list, the very last character of the file is forced to be a new-line.


Can be used in place of any file name to read a line from the standard input (there is no prompting).


Environment Variables

LC_CTYPE determines the locale for the interpretation of text as single- and/or multi-byte characters.

LC_MESSAGES determines the language in which messages are displayed.

If LC_CTYPE or LC_MESSAGES is not specified in the environment or is set to the empty string, the value of LANG is used as a default for each unspecified or empty variable. If LANG is not specified or is set to the empty string, a default of "C" (see lang(5)) is used instead of LANG.

If any internationalization variable contains an invalid setting, paste behaves as if all internationalization variables are set to "C". See environ(5).

International Code Set Support

Single- and multi-byte character code sets are supported.


These commands return the following values upon completion:


Completed successfully.


An error occurred.


List directory in one column:

ls | paste -d" " -

List directory in four columns

ls | paste - - - -

Combine pairs of lines into lines

paste -s -d"\t\n" file


pr -t -m... works similarly, but creates extra blanks, tabs and new-lines for a nice page layout.


too many files

Except for the -s option, no more than OPEN_MAX - 3 input files can be specified (see limits(5)).


paste was developed by OSF and HP.


cut(1), grep(1), pr(1).


paste: SVID2, SVID3, XPG2, XPG3, XPG4, POSIX.2

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