Use wc command to count number lines

by Daniel Pham
Published: Updated:
This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series Linux commands: Part 6 - Redirection

This article will introduce wc command. You can use wc command to count the number of lines, words and bytes in the file.

Wc command syntax

There are 2 ways to use the wc command as below.

We use wc to count the number of lines in a file, not the data in the pipeline.

$ wc [options] filename

Use wc in the pipeline, processing the output data from another command.

$ command-1 | command-2 | wc [options]

Use wc command to count number lines

Okey, now we will do an example. The first example is to use the non-pipeline command.

We have a text file with the following content. Now we will count the lines, count the words, count the number of bytes of that text file.

$ wc demo-wc.txt
use wc command to count number lines, number words, number bytes in a file
Use wc command to count number lines, number words, number bytes in a file.

For the second example, we will reuse the example included in the article about sort command. We will list the content in /bin and /usr/bin and sort it. Now we will count the number files in both folders after sorting.

$ ls /bin /usr/bin | sort | wc -l
  • Use -c to print the byte counts.
  • Use -l to print the newline counts.
  • And use -w to print the word counts.


The wc command is often used in conjunction with the sort and uniq command. This set of 3 commands creates very powerful data filtering pipelines. You should combine it.

(This is an article from my old blog that has been inactive for a long time, I don’t want to throw it away so I will keep it and hope it helps someone).

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Series Navigation«« Previous part: Use uniq command to delete duplicate linesNext part: Use grep to print lines match a pattern »»

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