Counting Chars/Words/Lines with wc

Written by Chris Gregg, with modifications by Nick Troccoli

Click here for a walkthrough video.

The wc ("word count") command counts the lines, words, and characters in a file:

$ wc hello.c
 7 10 98 hello.c
$ cat hello.c

int main() {
    printf("Hello, World!\n");
    return 0;

The hello.c file above has 7 lines, 10 words, and 98 characters.

The wc command can be useful if you need to count any output of a file, and it is frequently used by piping the output from a command or program:

$ ls -1 | wc
7 7 71

There are 7 files in the directory above.