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Print a horizontal line

terminal, line
Jan Schampera, prince_jammys, ccsalvesen, others

The purpose of this small code collection is to show some code that draws a horizontal line using as less external tools as possible (it's not a big deal to do it with AWK or Perl, but with pure or nearly-pure Bash it gets more interesting).

In general, you should be able to use this code to repeat any character or character sequence.

Not a miracle, just to be complete here.

# of course you can use echo(1), too
printf -- '--------------------\n'

This one simply loops 20 times, always draws a dash, finally a newline

for ((x = 0; x < 20; x++)); do
  printf -- '-'
printf '\n'

This one uses the printf command to print an empty field with a minimum field width of 20 characters. The text is padded with spaces, since there is no text, you get 20 spaces. The spaces are then converted to - by the tr command.

printf '%20s\n' | tr ' ' '-'

whitout an external command, using a bash specific expansion:

printf -v res '%20s'
printf "%s\n" "${res// /-}"

This one is a variant of the one above. It uses tput cols to find the width of the terminal and set that number as the minimum field witdh.

printf "%$(tput cols)s\n"|tr ' ' '='

This one is a bit tricky. The format for the printf command is %.0s, which specified a field with the maximum length of zero. After this field, printf is told to print a dash. You might remember that it's the nature of printf to repeat, if the number of format specifications is less than the number of given arguments. With brace expansion {1..20}, 20 arguments are given (you could easily write 1 2 3 4 … 20, of course!). Following happens: The zero-length field plus the dash is repeated 20 times. A zero length field is, naturally, invisible. What you see is the dash, repeated 20 times.

# Note: you might see that as %.s, which is a (less documented) shorthand for %.0s
printf '%.0s-' {1..20}
printf '\n'
if the 20 is variable, you can use eval (take care that using eval is potentially dangerous if you evaluate external data):
eval printf '%.0s-' {1..$(tput cols)}

Preparing enough dashes in advance, we can then use a (bash specific) expansion:

echo ${hr:0:$(tput cols)}

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Fernando Basso, 2011/12/27 10:10

What about having the horizontal line being displayed from withing PS1 so that it will show up after every command?

Jan Schampera, 2011/12/28 00:50, 2011/12/28 00:52

Something like this:

PROMPT_COMMAND="printf '%.0s-' {1..20};printf '\n'"

Krim, 2012/02/10 03:01

Lol, can't resist: just as a joke: (and to be a annoying) my ansi escape solution to print a horizontal line at the top of a screen. (vt100 compatible terminal required)

echo $'\e#8\e[1B\e[J'

# #8   == print alignment test pattern
# [1B  == move cursor down 1 row
# [J   == clear screen from cursor downward

:-) /krim
onirix, 2015/07/07 10:12

Hello Krim,

Where can I found a complete list of commands that you pickup these ones ?

Thanks !

Krim, 2012/02/10 03:36

On a slightly related note, my

PROMPT_COMMAND="echo $'\e7\e[2;800H\e[16D\e[7m' $(date +"%Y/%m/%d %H:%M")$'\e8'"
# \e7        = Store cursor position and attributes
# \e[2;800H  = Move cursor to top right (well, I don't have any > 800 col ttys)
# \e[16D     = Move cursor left 16 chars
# \e[7m      = Set reverse video
#          Then print a space and the date, and finish with a 
# \e8        = Restore cursor position and attributes

luka, 2014/01/25 01:54

Not being a C-native, I prefer using a simple echo/tr combination to do the job:

<pre> echo -$nothing{1..80} | tr -d " " </pre>

Provided that $nothing is unset, bash parameter expansion will replace it with nothing - 80 times due to the sequence expression {1..80} Since brace expansion seperates each item with the first character of the IFS delimiter and this is a space by default, we need to delete those spaces using tr -d.

Mind you, I have no idea whether echoing an unset variable is portable or will lead to errors in other shells.

gianni, 2014/01/25 10:55

# print multi-${c}haracter ${w}ide Horizontal RoW on stdout hrw () {

isi "$2" && w="$2" ; isi "$1" && w="$1"
isc "$2" && c="$2" ; isc "$1" && c="$1"
w="${w:-${COLUMNS:-`tput cols`}}"
printf '%*s\n' $w '' | tr ' ' "$c"
unset w c


# IS Integer isi () { egrep -oq '^[0-9]+$' «< "$1" ; }

# IS Character isc () { grep -oq '^punct$' «< "$1" ; }

Mike, 2015/01/08 00:57

printf "%s\b\b\b" -{001..25}

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  • snipplets/print_horizontal_line.1310187514.txt
  • Last modified: 2011/07/09 04:58
  • by ormaaj