Lets say I have fields:

name, number, id

I have a data file:


I want to replace every 3rd pipe with a new line or '\n' so I get:


I'm having no luck with awk or sed.

I've tried the following, and variations of:

awk '/"\|"/{c++;if(c==10){sub("\|","\n");c=0}}1' inputfile.txt  
sed 's/"|"/"\n"/2' inputfile.txt  

It tells me awk:

syntax error near line 1

awk: illegal statement near line 1

awk: syntax error near line 1

awk: bailing out near line 1

Any help is greatly appreciated!

EDIT: Thank you!


You can for example use this:

$ awk -v RS="|" '{printf $0 (NR%3?RS:"\n")}' file


  • -v RS="|" sets the record separator as |.
  • printf $0 (NR%3?RS:"\n") print the full line with a new line in case the number of record is multiple of 3.

A pure bash answer. Not as elegant as the awk solution, but may come in handy:

i=3; IFS='|'; while read -a line; do echo "${line[*]:0:$i}"; echo "${line[*]:$i}"; done < inputfile.txt


  • i=3 Set this to the number of fields you want per line.
  • IFS='|' Sets the delimiter to pipe.
  • while read -a line Read each line from the input file into a bash array.
  • echo "${line[*]:0:$i}" Print the first $i values of the array on a line.
  • echo "${line[*]:$i}" Print the rest of the array on a line.

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