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I have a rtf file that I'm using grep on like this

 grep "Order Number" 'Extract Text Output.rtf'

which results in lines that look like this

\b\fs28 \cf2 Fab Order Number : FAB00772450\

and I want the result to be just FAB00772450

I know if I use -o it will just return the word "Order Number" but that doesn't help me

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migrated from Mar 24 '12 at 20:04

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Is not the same as this – madth3 Mar 23 '12 at 2:35
how the hell is this question off topic ? someone please explain – mcgrailm Mar 23 '12 at 2:37
Try piping that to awk, then you can split it up and do whatever you like to it. – user1200129 Mar 23 '12 at 2:40
up vote 3 down vote accepted
cat 'Extract Text Output.rtf' | sed -n 's/Order Number : \(.*\)\\/\1/gp'

Yields exactly what you want.


  • sed -n suppress default output of sed
  • s/.../.../g search and replace, g: everything/globally
  • Order Number : \(.*\)\\ look for "Order Number : " string and a backslash and save anything in between to group 1; (downside of using sed is to have to escape regex's grouping operator: (...) with \(...\) )
  • \1 use group 1 as replacement
  • p print replacement if any match

This is way more flexible and generic than using hard-coded awk groups ($7).

Note 1: use .*? if you have lines formatted like this:

 \cf2 Fab Order Number : FAB00772450\ \b \cf2

This prevents regex from being greedy and stops at the first backslash. Not tested if sed supports *? and +? operators, but let's hope.

Note 2: If you have multiple parts you want to extract from a line, use multiple groups and in the replacement string you can even switch them with formatting, like .../\2 - \1/

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This works for me:

grep "Order Number" test.txt | awk {'print $7'} | tr "\\\ " " "



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awesome thank you – mcgrailm Mar 23 '12 at 2:54
what does the 7 do ? – mcgrailm Mar 23 '12 at 2:55
it prints the 7th column I think. It splits on whitespace. – user1200129 Mar 23 '12 at 3:04
It prints the 7th field. The split is on whatever FS is (defaults to space). – Scott Wilson Mar 24 '12 at 20:16

If this format is always followed but the number of tokens is not always the same, you could pipe it through something like

sed 's/.*: //' | sed 's#\##'

This also yields "FAB00772450"

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