The “fmt” command-line tool is a handy utility that allows you to reformat text files by adjusting their paragraph structure and limiting the line width to a specified number of characters. By utilizing fmt, you can improve the readability and aesthetics of text documents, making them more presentable and easier to digest.
One of the primary functions of fmt is to join paragraphs in a text file. It identifies paragraphs based on blank lines between them and intelligently merges them together. This consolidation of paragraphs creates a more cohesive and flowing structure, eliminating excessive line breaks and improving the overall readability of the text.
In addition to joining paragraphs, fmt also provides the ability to limit the line width to a specific number of characters. By default, the line width is set to 75 characters, but you can customize this value according to your requirements. When a line exceeds the specified width, fmt automatically wraps the text to the next line, ensuring that each line remains within the desired length.
The line width limitation offered by fmt is particularly useful when dealing with text files that have strict formatting requirements, such as documentation, code comments, or plain text documents that need to conform to certain standards. By enforcing a consistent line width, fmt helps maintain a uniform appearance and prevents text from extending beyond the desired boundaries.
When applied to text files, fmt not only enhances readability but also improves the visual presentation of the content. By removing excessive line breaks and enforcing a specific line width, the text becomes more visually appealing and professional-looking. This can be especially beneficial when sharing or publishing text documents, as they will appear cleaner and more polished to readers.
It’s worth noting that fmt is a versatile tool that provides additional options and parameters to further refine the formatting process. For example, you can specify indentation, adjust the spacing between paragraphs, or even preserve certain line breaks if necessary. These additional options allow for finer control over the formatting outcome, ensuring that the reformatted text aligns with your specific preferences and requirements.
fmt Command Examples
1. Reformat a file:
# fmt /path/to/file
2. Reformat a file producing output lines of (at most) n characters:
# fmt -w n /path/to/file
3. Reformat a file without joining lines shorter than the given width together:
# fmt -s /path/to/file
4. Reformat a file with uniform spacing (1 space between words and 2 spaces between paragraphs):
# fmt -u /path/to/file
In summary, fmt is a valuable command-line tool for reformatting text files by consolidating paragraphs and limiting line width. By improving the structure and appearance of text documents, fmt enhances readability and visual presentation, making the content more accessible and visually appealing. Whether you are working with documentation, code comments, or plain text files, fmt offers a convenient way to achieve a well-organized and aesthetically pleasing format.