WC command examples in Linux


WC (word count) is the Linux command which allows you to count the number of bytes(or characters), words and lines in a provided text file. It might not seem very useful, but there are actually a lot of situations where you might need to get the number of words or lines in a file without writing a single line of code.

Let’s go through some examples below:

Example 1. Default usage

The most basic usage is wc followed by the input filename:


This will output the number of lines, words and bytes in the file:

The sample file contains 3 lines, 12 words and 60 bytes.

The image above shows that we can also count only lines, words or bytes in a file, using the special options:

  • wc -c or wc –bytes will count only bytes
  • wc -w or wc –words will count only words
  • wc -l or wc –lines will count only lines

Example 2. Count the number of characters

There’s another options which allows us to count the number of characters in a file:

wc -m <FILENAME>


wc --chars <FILENAME>

The file contains 60 characters.

The number of characters will be different from the number of bytes if the characters in a file are using more than one byte each.

Example 3. Print the length of the longest line

To print the length of the longest line us the following command:



wc --max-line-length <FILENAME>

The second line in the file is the longest one, therefore the command returns its length – 29.

Example 4. Command Help

Use command help if you forget how to use the available options:

wc --help


Thanks for reading. I hope this was informative.