Have Tr On Multiple Lines Bash

Shell Programming

I recently discovered a handy trick for working with the tr command in Bash that I’d like to share with you all. It’s a simple yet effective method for breaking long commands into multiple lines, making them easier to read and manage. Let’s dive into the details of how to use tr across multiple lines in Bash.

Understanding the tr Command

The tr command is a useful tool in Unix and Linux systems for translating characters. It can be used to delete or squeeze repeated characters, and to replace sets of characters with other sets. It’s a straightforward and powerful command that often comes in handy when dealing with text data.

Breaking tr Command onto Multiple Lines

When working with long or complex tr commands, it can be challenging to maintain readability and manageability. One effective way to address this issue is by breaking the tr command onto multiple lines. This can be achieved by using the backslash (\) at the end of each line to indicate that the command continues on the next line.

For example:

tr '[:lower:]' '[:upper:]' <<< "hello world" \
| tr '[:space:]' '\n'

This allows the tr command to span multiple lines, making it easier to understand and modify. It’s a small change, but it can significantly improve the readability of your Bash scripts.

Personalization and Application

I’ve found this technique particularly beneficial when working on data manipulation scripts. By breaking down the tr command into several lines, I can easily see and modify individual transformations. It has made my scripts more transparent and easier to maintain, saving me time and effort in the long run.


Using tr across multiple lines in Bash can greatly enhance the readability and maintainability of your scripts. By breaking down complex commands, you can make your scripts more transparent and easier to work with. Give it a try in your own projects and experience the benefits firsthand!