printf — format and print data

Examples (TL;DR)


printf OPTION


Print ARGUMENT(s) according to FORMAT, or execute according to OPTION:


display this help and exit


output version information and exit

FORMAT controls the output as in C printf.  Interpreted sequences are:


double quote




alert (BEL)




produce no further output




form feed


new line


carriage return


horizontal tab


vertical tab


byte with octal value NNN (1 to 3 digits)


byte with hexadecimal value HH (1 to 2 digits)


Unicode (ISO/IEC 10646) character with hex value HHHH (4 digits)


Unicode character with hex value HHHHHHHH (8 digits)


a single %


ARGUMENT as a string with '\' escapes interpreted, except that octal escapes are of the form \0 or \0NNN


ARGUMENT is printed in a format that can be reused as shell input, escaping non-printable characters with the proposed POSIX $'' syntax.

and all C format specifications ending with one of diouxXfeEgGcs, with ARGUMENTs converted to proper type first.  Variable widths are handled.

NOTE: your shell may have its own version of printf, which usually supersedes the version described here.  Please refer to your shell's documentation for details about the options it supports.


Written by David MacKenzie.

Reporting Bugs

GNU coreutils online help: <>
Report any translation bugs to <>

See Also


Full documentation <>
or available locally via: info '(coreutils) printf invocation'

Referenced By

bash(1), dash(1), fetchlog(1), git-sh-i18n(1), herbstluftwm(1), lksh(1), printf(3), ps(1), spax(1).

October 2019 GNU coreutils 8.31