Read a specific line from a file

From Rosetta Code
Read a specific line from a file
You are encouraged to solve this task according to the task description, using any language you may know.

Some languages have special semantics for obtaining a known line number from a file.


Demonstrate how to obtain the contents of a specific line within a file.

For the purpose of this task demonstrate how the contents of the seventh line of a file can be obtained, and store it in a variable or in memory (for potential future use within the program if the code were to become embedded). If the file does not contain seven lines, or the seventh line is empty, or too big to be retrieved, output an appropriate message. If no special semantics are available for obtaining the required line, it is permissible to read line by line. Note that empty lines are considered and should still be counted. Note that for functional languages or languages without variables or storage, it is permissible to output the extracted data to standard output.


with Ada.Text_IO;  use Ada.Text_IO;
procedure Rosetta_Read is
File : File_Type;
Open (File => File,
Mode => In_File,
Name => "rosetta_read.adb");
Set_Line (File, To => 7);
Line_7 : constant String := Get_Line (File);
if Line_7'Length = 0 then
Put_Line ("Line 7 is empty.");
Put_Line (Line_7);
end if;
Close (File);
when End_Error =>
Put_Line ("The file contains fewer than 7 lines.");
Close (File);
when Storage_Error =>
Put_Line ("Line 7 is too long to load.");
Close (File);
end Rosetta_Read;


read_line(text &line, text path, integer n)
file f;
f_affix(f, path);
while (n) {
n -= 1;
f_line(f, line);
if (2 < argc()) {
text line;
read_line(line, argv(1), 6);
return 0;

ALGOL 68[edit]

Works with: ALGOL 68G version Any - tested with release 2.8.win32
# reads the line with number "number" (counting from 1)       #
# from the file named "file name" and returns the text of the #
# in "line". If an error occurs, the result is FALSE and a #
# message is returned in "err". If no error occurs, TRUE is #
# returned #
PROC read specific line = ( STRING file name
, INT number # line 7 #
FILE input file;
line := "";
err := "";
IF open( input file, file name, stand in channel ) /= 0
# failed to open the file #
err := "Unable to open """ + file name + """";
# file opened OK #
BOOL at eof := FALSE;
# set the EOF handler for the file #
on logical file end( input file
# note that we reached EOF on the #
# latest read #
at eof := TRUE;
# return TRUE so processing can continue #
INT line number := 0;
STRING text;
WHILE line number < number
AND NOT at eof
get( input file, ( text, newline ) );
line number +:= 1
# close the file #
close( input file );
# return the line or an error message depending on whether #
# we got a line with the required number or not #
IF line number = number
# got the required line #
line := text;
# not enough lines in the file #
err := """" + file name + """ is too short";
END; # read specific line #
# read the seventh line of this source and print it #
# (or an error message if we can't) #
STRING line;
IF read specific line( "read-specific-line.a68", 7, line, err )
# got the line #
print( ( "line seven is: """ + line + """", newline ) )
# got an error #
print( ( "unable to read line: """ + err + """" ) )
line seven is: "                          , INT        number        # line 7 #"


FileReadLine, OutputVar, filename.txt, 7
if ErrorLevel
MsgBox, There was an error reading the 7th line of the file


#!/usr/bin/awk -f
#usage: readnthline.awk -v lineno=6 filename
FNR==lineno { storedline=$0; found++ }
END {if(found<1){print "ERROR: Line",lineno,"not found"}


      filepath$ = @lib$ + "..\licence.txt"
requiredline% = 7
file% = OPENIN(filepath$)
IF file%=0 ERROR 100, "File could not be opened"
FOR i% = 1 TO requiredline%
IF EOF#file% ERROR 100, "File contains too few lines"
INPUT #file%, text$
CLOSE #file%
IF ASCtext$=10 text$ = MID$(text$,2)
PRINT text$


Mmap file and search for offsets to certain line number. Since mapped file really is memory, there's no extra storage procedure once offsets are found.

#include <unistd.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/mman.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>
#include <fcntl.h>
#include <err.h>
/* following code assumes all file operations succeed. In practice,
* return codes from open, close, fstat, mmap, munmap all need to be
* checked for error.

int read_file_line(const char *path, int line_no)
struct stat s;
char *buf;
off_t start = -1, end = -1;
size_t i;
int ln, fd, ret = 1;
if (line_no == 1) start = 0;
else if (line_no < 1){
warn("line_no too small");
return 0; /* line_no starts at 1; less is error */
line_no--; /* back to zero based, easier */
fd = open(path, O_RDONLY);
fstat(fd, &s);
/* Map the whole file. If the file is huge (up to GBs), OS will swap
* pages in and out, and because search for lines goes sequentially
* and never accesses more than one page at a time, penalty is low.
* If the file is HUGE, such that OS can't find an address space to map
* it, we got a real problem. In practice one would repeatedly map small
* chunks, say 1MB at a time, and find the offsets of the line along the
* way. Although, if file is really so huge, the line itself can't be
* guaranteed small enough to be "stored in memory", so there.

buf = mmap(0, s.st_size, PROT_READ, MAP_PRIVATE, fd, 0);
/* optional; if the file is large, tell OS to read ahead */
madvise(buf, s.st_size, MADV_SEQUENTIAL);
for (i = ln = 0; i < s.st_size && ln <= line_no; i++) {
if (buf[i] != '\n') continue;
if (++ln == line_no) start = i + 1;
else if (ln == line_no + 1) end = i + 1;
if (start >= s.st_size || start < 0) {
warn("file does not have line %d", line_no + 1);
ret = 0;
} else {
/* do something with the line here, like
write(STDOUT_FILENO, buf + start, end - start);
or copy it out, or something

munmap(buf, s.st_size);
return ret;

Alternate Version[edit]

This version does not rely on POSIX APIs such as mmap, but rather sticks to ANSI C functionality. This version also works with non-seekable files, so it can be fed by a pipe. It performs limited but adequate error checking. That is, get_nth_line returns NULL on all failures, and the caller can distinguish EOF, file read error and out of memory by calling feof() and ferror() on the input file.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#define BUF_SIZE ( 256 )
char *get_nth_line( FILE *f, int line_no )
char buf[ BUF_SIZE ];
size_t curr_alloc = BUF_SIZE, curr_ofs = 0;
char *line = malloc( BUF_SIZE );
int in_line = line_no == 1;
size_t bytes_read;
/* Illegal to ask for a line before the first one. */
if ( line_no < 1 )
return NULL;
/* Handle out-of-memory by returning NULL */
if ( !line )
return NULL;
/* Scan the file looking for newlines */
while ( line_no &&
( bytes_read = fread( buf, 1, BUF_SIZE, f ) ) > 0 )
int i;
for ( i = 0 ; i < bytes_read ; i++ )
if ( in_line )
if ( curr_ofs >= curr_alloc )
curr_alloc <<= 1;
line = realloc( line, curr_alloc );
if ( !line ) /* out of memory? */
return NULL;
line[ curr_ofs++ ] = buf[i];
if ( buf[i] == '\n' )
if ( line_no == 1 )
in_line = 1;
if ( line_no == 0 )
/* Didn't find the line? */
if ( line_no != 0 )
free( line );
return NULL;
/* Resize allocated buffer to what's exactly needed by the string
and the terminating NUL character. Note that this code *keeps*
the terminating newline as part of the string.

line = realloc( line, curr_ofs + 1 );
if ( !line ) /* out of memory? */
return NULL;
/* Add the terminating NUL. */
line[ curr_ofs ] = '\0';
/* Return the line. Caller is responsible for freeing it. */
return line;
/* Test program. Prints out the 7th line of input from stdin, if any */
int main( int argc, char *argv[] )
char *line7 = get_nth_line( stdin, 7 );
if ( line7 )
printf("The 7th line of input was:\n%s\n", line7 );
free( line7 );
} else
printf("Did not find the 7th line of input. Reason: ");
if ( feof( stdin ) )
puts("End of file reached.");
else if ( ferror( stdin ) )
puts("Error reading input.");
puts("Out of memory.");
return 0;


#include <string>
#include <fstream>
#include <iostream>
int main( ) {
std::cout << "Which file do you want to look at ?\n" ;
std::string input ;
std::getline( std::cin , input ) ;
std::ifstream infile( input.c_str( ) , std::ios::in ) ;
std::string file( input ) ;
std::cout << "Which file line do you want to see ? ( Give a number > 0 ) ?\n" ;
std::getline( std::cin , input ) ;
int linenumber = std::stoi( input ) ;
int lines_read = 0 ;
std::string line ;
if ( infile.is_open( ) ) {
while ( infile ) {
getline( infile , line ) ;
lines_read++ ;
if ( lines_read == linenumber ) {
std::cout << line << std::endl ;
break ;
infile.close( ) ;
if ( lines_read < linenumber )
std::cout << "No " << linenumber << " lines in " << file << " !\n" ;
return 0 ;
else {
std::cerr << "Could not find file " << file << " !\n" ;
return 1 ;


(defn read-nth-line
"Read line-number from the given text file. The first line has the number 1."
[file line-number]
(with-open [rdr ( file)]
(nth (line-seq rdr) (dec line-number))))
user=> (read-nth-line "/tmp/test.txt" 7)

Common Lisp[edit]

(defun read-nth-line (file n &aux (line-number 0))
"Read the nth line from a text file. The first line has the number 1"
(assert (> n 0) (n))
(with-open-file (stream file)
(loop for line = (read-line stream nil nil)
if (and (null line) (< line-number n))
do (error "file ~a is too short, just ~a, not ~a lines long"
file line-number n)
do (incf line-number)
if (and line (= line-number n))
do (return line))))

Example call:

CL-USER> (read-nth-line "/tmp/test1.text" 7)


using System;
using System.IO;
namespace GetLine
internal class Program
private static void Main(string[] args)
Console.WriteLine(GetLine(args[0], uint.Parse(args[1])));
private static string GetLine(string path, uint line)
using (var reader = new StreamReader(path))
for (uint i = 0; i <= line; i++)
if (reader.EndOfStream)
return string.Format("There {1} less than {0} line{2} in the file.", line,
((line == 1) ? "is" : "are"), ((line == 1) ? "" : "s"));
if (i == line)
return reader.ReadLine();
catch (IOException ex)
return ex.Message;
catch (OutOfMemoryException ex)
return ex.Message;
throw new Exception("Something bad happened.");



void main() {
import std.stdio, std.file, std.string;
auto file_lines = readText("input.txt").splitLines();
//file_lines becomes an array of strings, each line is one element
writeln((file_lines.length > 6) ? file_lines[6] : "line not found");

or, line by line

import std.stdio;
void main() {
int countLines;
char[] ln;
auto f = File("linenumber.d", "r");
foreach (char[] line; f.byLine()) {
if (countLines == 7) {
ln = line;
switch(countLines) {
case 0 : writeln("the file has zero length");
case 7 : writeln("line 7: ", (ln.length ? ln : "empty"));
default :
writefln("the file only contains %d lines", countLines);
line 7:     foreach (char[] line; f.byLine()) {


Using function into_list/1 from Read_a_file_line_by_line. There is no behaviour specified after printing an error message, so I throw an exception. An alternative would be to continue with a default value?

-module( read_a_specific_line ).
-export( [from_file/2, task/0] ).
from_file( File, N ) -> line_nr( N, read_a_file_line_by_line:into_list(File) ).
task() ->
Lines = read_a_file_line_by_line:into_list( "read_a_specific_line.erl" ),
Line_7 = line_nr( 7, Lines ),
line_nr( N, Lines ) ->
case lists:nth( N, Lines )
of "\n" -> erlang:exit( empty_line )
; Line -> Line
_Type:Error0 ->
Error = line_nr_error( Error0 ),
io:fwrite( "Error: ~p~n", [Error] ),
erlang:exit( Error )
line_nr_error( function_clause ) -> too_few_lines_in_file;
line_nr_error( Error ) -> Error.
27> read_a_specific_line:task().
"task() ->\n"
28> read_a_specific_line:from_file("read_a_specific_line.erl", 6).  
Error: empty_line
** exception exit: empty_line
     in function  read_a_specific_line:line_nr/2 (read_a_specific_line.erl, line 25)
29> read_a_specific_line:from_file("read_a_specific_line.erl", 66). 
Error: too_few_lines_in_file
** exception exit: too_few_lines_in_file
     in function  read_a_specific_line:line_nr/2 (read_a_specific_line.erl, line 25)


A lot of petty annoyances can arise in the attempt to complete the desired action, and so the function does not simply return true or false, nor does it return some drab integer code that would require an auxiliary array of explanatory texts somewhere... Instead, it returns a message reporting on its opinion, with an ad-hoc scheme. If the first character is a space, all is well, otherwise a ! indicates some severe problem while a + indicates a partial difficulty. The text of the desired record is returned via a parameter, thus the caller can be the one responsible for deciding how much space to provide for it. F2000 has provision for allocating character strings of the needed length, but there is no attempt to use that here as the key requirement is for the length to be decided during the process of the READ statement.

The example uses F90 only because the MODULE protocol enables usage of a function without having to re-declare its type in every calling routine. Otherwise this is F77 style. Some compilers become confused or raise an error over the manipulation of a function's name as if it were an ordinary variable. In such a case an auxiliary variable can be used with its value assigned to the function name on exit.
      MODULE SAMPLER    !To sample a record from a file.                SAM00100
CHARACTER*20 FUNCTION GETREC(N,F,IS) !Returns a status. SAM00300
Careful. Some compilers get confused over the function name's usage. SAM00400
INTEGER N !The desired record number. SAM00500
INTEGER F !Of this file. SAM00600
CHARACTER*(*) IS !Stashed here. SAM00700
INTEGER I,L !Assistants. SAM00800
IS = "" !Clear previous content, even if null...SAM00900
IF (N.LE.0) THEN !Start on errors. SAM01000
WRITE (GETREC,1) "!No record",N !Could never be found. SAM01100
1 FORMAT (A,1X,I0) !Message, number. SAM01200
ELSE IF (F.LE.0) THEN !Obviously wrong? SAM01300
WRITE (GETREC,1) "!No unit number",F!Positive is valid. SAM01400
ELSE IF (LEN(IS).LE.0) THEN !Space awaits? SAM01500
WRITE (GETREC,1) "!String size",LEN(IS) !Nope. SAM01600
ELSE !Otherwise, there is hope. SAM01700
REWIND (F) !Clarify the file position. SAM01800
DO I = 1,N - 1 !Grind up to the desired record. SAM01900
READ (F,2,END=3) !Ignoring any content. SAM02000
END DO !Are we there yet? SAM02100
READ (F,2,END = 3) L,IS(1:MIN(L,LEN(IS))) !At last. SAM02200
2 FORMAT (Q,A) !Q = characters yet unread. SAM02300
IF (L.LT.LEN(IS)) IS(L + 1:) = "" !Clear the tail. SAM02400
IF (L.GT.LEN(IS)) THEN !Now for more silliness.SAM02500
WRITE (GETREC,1) "+Length",L !Too long to fit in IS. SAM02600
ELSE IF (L.LE.0) THEN !A zero-length record SAM02700
WRITE (GETREC,1) "+Null" !Is not the same SAM02800
ELSE IF (IS.EQ."") THEN !As a record SAM02900
WRITE (GETREC,1) "+Blank",L !Containing spaces. SAM03000
ELSE !But otherwise, SAM03100
WRITE (GETREC,1) " Length",L !Note the leading space.SAM03200
END IF !Righto, we've decided. SAM03300
END IF !And, no more options. SAM03400
RETURN !So, done. SAM03500
3 WRITE (GETREC,1) "!End on read",I !An alternative ending. SAM03600
END FUNCTION GETREC !That was interesting. SAM03700
END MODULE SAMPLER !Just a sample of possibility. SAM03800
INTEGER ENUFF !Some sizes. POK00300
PARAMETER (ENUFF = 666) !Sufficient? POK00400
CHARACTER*(ENUFF) STUFF !Lots of memory these days. POK00500
INTEGER MSG,F !I/O unit numbers. POK00700
MSG = 6 !Standard output. POK00800
F = 10 !Chooose a unit number. POK00900
WRITE (MSG,*) " To select record 7 from a disc file." POK01000
WRITE (MSG,*) "As a FORMATTED file." POK01200
WRITE (MSG,1) "Result",RESULT POK01500
WRITE (MSG,1) "Record",STUFF POK01600
1 FORMAT (A,":",A) POK01700
CLOSE (F) POK01900
WRITE (MSG,*) "As a random-access unformatted file." POK02000
STUFF = "Cleared." POK02300
READ (F,REC = 7,ERR = 666) STUFF(1:80) POK02400
WRITE (MSG,1) "Record",STUFF(1:80) POK02500
666 WRITE (MSG,*) "Can't get the record!" POK02700
END !That was easy. POK02800


       To select record 7 from a disc file.
 As a FORMATTED file.
Result: Length 80
Record:         CHARACTER*(*) IS       !Stashed here.                          SAM00700

 As a random-access unformatted file.
Record:         CHARACTER*(*) IS       !Stashed here.                          SAM00700

Fortran's file reading counts a null line as a valid record so fortunately, there is no difficulty there. Trailing spaces appear in IS because of fixed-size CHARACTER variables. A length parameter for the length of the record as read (with possible trailing spaces counted) could easily enough be passed back.

Random access[edit]

An entirely different approach is possible if the file is opened for random access, and has fixed-size records. In such a case, READ (F,REC=7,ERR=666) STUFF would suffice (where STUFF was the right size for the record) and if the record did not exist (being beyond the last record of a short file) then label 666 would be jumped to - without that, a crash results. In the ASCII world, text files have varying-length records so the example file reactivates source line sequence numbers of the Fortran fixed-format style and yet again, the source file highlighter doesn't recognise another foible of Fortran layout. Although there are many conventions (the simplest being digits only), here a text name is crammed in to the sequence field of columns 73-80.

This results in every line being of the same length with an obvious route towards calculating the location of a random record. But, the actual record length is not 80, because in the ASCII world, plain text files have their records separated by CR, or CRLF, or LFCR, or CR - depending on the system. Experiment shows that this system (Windows XP) uses CRLF, and so the record length is 82. But that's not the end of it. The RECL parameter by default is in terms of the default integer size, which is four bytes, and so the record length cannot be specified correctly! Fortunately, the Compaq Visual Fortran compiler has an option to specify that the RECL value is to be in bytes, and, invisibly so here, this has been done...

Obviously, this only works because of the special nature of the file being read. Other systems offer a filesystem that does not regard record sizes or separators as being a part of the record that is read or written, and in such a case, a CR (or CRLF, or whatever) does not appear amongst the data. Some systems escalate to enabling such random access for varying-length records, or access by a key text rather than a record number (so that a key of "SAM00700" might be specified), and acronyms such as ISAM start appearing.

In Fortran 77 there was no verbose REC=n facility, instead one used
READ (F'7) STUFF(1:80)
- that is, an apostrophe even though an at-sign was available - and again the source file highlighting is confused. An interesting alternative was to use the FIND(F'7) statement instead, followed by an ordinary READ (or WRITE) not necessarily specifying the desired record number. The point of this is that the FIND statement would initiate the pre-positioning for the next I/O asynchronously so that other processing could intervene between it and the READ or WRITE, and in situations more complex than this example, there could be startling changes in performance. If not always positive ones when many files were being accessed on one physical disc drive. Unfortunately, later Fortran extensions have abandoned this statement, while multiprocessing has proliferated.

The GO TO style of handling mishaps in an I/O statement makes a simple structure difficult - note that the reception area ought not be fallen into by normal execution, thus the STOP. Unfortunately, READ and WRITE statements do not return a result that could be tested in an IF-statement or WHILE-loop, but this can be approached with only a little deformation:
      READ (F,REC = 7,ERR = 666, IOSTAT = IOSTAT) STUFF(1:80)
WRITE (MSG,*) "Can't get the record: code",IOSTAT
WRITE (MSG,1) "Record",STUFF(1:80)

Where IOSTAT is an integer variable (and also a key word) and this formulation means not having to remember which way the assignment goes; it is left to right. The error code numbers are unlikely to be the same across different systems, so experimentation is in order. It would be much nicer to be able to write something like IF (READ (F,REC = 7, IOSTAT = IOSTAT) STUFF(1:80)) THEN etc. or DO WHILE(etc.)


open System
open System.IO
let main args =
let n = Int32.Parse(args.[1]) - 1
use r = new StreamReader(args.[0])
let lines = Seq.unfold (
fun (reader : StreamReader) ->
if (reader.EndOfStream) then None
else Some(reader.ReadLine(), reader)) r
let line = Seq.nth n lines // Seq.nth throws an ArgumentException,
// if not not enough lines available


Uses FB's native file$ command that opens a dialog window and allows the user to select the file to read.

include "ConsoleWindow"
dim as long i : i = 1
dim as Str255 s, lineSeven
dim as CFURLRef url
if ( files$( _CFURLRefOpen, "TEXT", "Select text file", @url ) )
open "I", 2, @url
while ( not eof(2) )
line input #2, s
if ( i == 7 )
lineSeven = s
end if
close 2
end if
if ( lineSeven[0] )
print lineSeven
print "File did not contain seven lines, or line was empty."
end if

Input text file:

Line 1
Line 2
Line 3
Line 4
Line 5
Line 6
Line 7
Line 8
Line 9
Line 10


Line 7


package main
import (
func main() {
if line, err := rsl("input.txt", 7); err == nil {
fmt.Println("7th line:")
} else {
fmt.Println("rsl:", err)
func rsl(fn string, n int) (string, error) {
if n < 1 {
return "", fmt.Errorf("invalid request: line %d", n)
f, err := os.Open(fn)
if err != nil {
return "", err
defer f.Close()
bf := bufio.NewReader(f)
var line string
for lnum := 0; lnum < n; lnum++ {
line, err = bf.ReadString('\n')
if err == io.EOF {
switch lnum {
case 0:
return "", errors.New("no lines in file")
case 1:
return "", errors.New("only 1 line")
return "", fmt.Errorf("only %d lines", lnum)
if err != nil {
return "", err
if line == "" {
return "", fmt.Errorf("line %d empty", n)
return line, nil


def line = null
new File("lines.txt").eachLine { currentLine, lineNumber ->
if (lineNumber == 7) {
line = currentLine
println "Line 7 = $line"


main :: IO ()
main = do contents <- readFile filename
case drop 6 $ lines contents of
[] -> error "File has less than seven lines"
l:_ -> putStrLn l
where filename = "testfile"

Icon and Unicon[edit]

The procedure readline uses repeated alternation (i.e. |read()) to generate the lines of the file one at a time and limitation (i.e. \ n) to limit the generation to n results. If the file is not large enough readline will fail.

While it is certainly possible to read at file at specific offsets without reading each line via seek, with files using line feed terminated variable length records something has to read the data to determine the 7th record. This solution uses a combination of repeated alternation and generation limiting to achieve this. The counter is simply to discover if there are enough records.

procedure main()
procedure readline(f,n) # return n'th line of file f
f := open(\f,"r") | fail # open file
every i := n & line := |read(f) \ n do i -:= 1 # <== here
if i = 0 then return line


readLine=: 4 :0
(x-1) {:: <;.2 ] 1!:1 boxxopen y


$ cal 2011 > cal.txt
   7 readLine 'cal.txt'
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Note that this code assumes that the last character in the file is the line end character, and that the line end character is a part of the line to be retrieved.

Tacit alternative

require 'files'     NB. required for versions before J701
readLineT=: <:@[ {:: 'b'&freads@]

This is not quite equivalent to the code above as it handles cross-platform line-endings and those line end character(s) are removed from the result.


example: java -cp . LineNbr7
output : line 7: public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {;

package linenbr7;
public class LineNbr7 {
public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
File f = new File(args[0]);
if (!f.isFile() || !f.canRead())
throw new IOException("can't read " + args[0]);
BufferedReader br = new BufferedReader(new FileReader(f));
try (LineNumberReader lnr = new LineNumberReader(br)) {
String line = null;
int lnum = 0;
while ((line = lnr.readLine()) != null
&& (lnum = lnr.getLineNumber()) < 7) {
switch (lnum) {
case 0:
System.out.println("the file has zero length");
case 7:
boolean empty = "".equals(line);
System.out.println("line 7: " + (empty ? "empty" : line));
System.out.println("the file has only " + lnum + " line(s)");


Using jq 1.4, one would have to read the entire file in order to extract a particular line. Since April 24, 2015, however, the task can be accomplished by only reading the lines up to the desired line number. We accordingly showcase here these recently added features of jq:

  • "inputs" - a builtin which produces a stream
  • "foreach" - a control structure for iterating over a stream
  • "break" - for breaking out of a loop
# Input - a line number to read, counting from 1
# Output - a stream with 0 or 1 items
def read_line:
. as $in
| label $top
| foreach inputs as $line
(0; .+1; if . == $in then $line, break $top else empty end) ;

Example: Read line number $line (to be provided on the command line), counting from 1

$line | tonumber
| if . > 0 then read_line
else "$line (\(.)) should be a non-negative integer"
$ jq -n -r 'range(0;20) | tostring' | jq --arg line 10 -n -R -r -f Read_a_specific_line_from_a_file.jq


The short following snippet of code actually stores all the lines from the file in an array and displays the seventh element of the array, returning an error if there is no such element. Since the array is not referenced, it will be garbage collected when needed. The filehandle is closed upon completion of the task, be it successful or not.

open(readlines, "path/to/file")[7]

The next function reads n lines in the file and displays the last read if possible, or returns a short message. Here again, the filehandle is automatically closed after the task. Note that the first line is returned if a negative number is given as the line number.

function read_nth_lines(stream, num)
for i = 1:num-1
result = readline(stream)
print(result != "" ? result : "No such line.")
julia> open(line -> read_nth_lines(line, 7), "path/to/file")
"Hi, I am the content of the seventh line\n"


local(f) = file('unixdict.txt')
handle => { #f->close }
local(this_line = string,line = 0)
#f->forEachLine => {
#line == 7 ? #this_line = #1
#line == 7 ? loop_abort
#this_line // 6th, which is the 7th line in the file


iter = io.lines 'test.txt'
for i=0, 5 do
if not iter() then
error 'Not 7 lines in file'
line = iter()

Liberty BASIC[edit]

We read the whole file into memory, and use 'word$( string, number, delimiter)'. Line delimiter is assumed to be CRLF, and the file is assumed to exist at the path given.

fileName$    ="F:\sample.txt"
requiredLine =7
open fileName$ for input as #i
f$ =input$( #i, lof( #i))
close #i
line7$ =word$( f$, 7, chr$( 13))
if line7$ =chr$( 13) +chr$( 10) or line7$ ="" then notice "Empty line! ( or file has fewer lines)."
print line7$


 If[# != EndOfFile , Print[#]]& @ ReadList["file",  String, 7] 

MATLAB / Octave[edit]

eln = 7; % extract line number 7
line = '';
fid = fopen('foobar.txt','r');
if (fid < 0)
printf('Error:could not open file\n')
n = 0;
while ~feof(fid),
n = n + 1;
if (n ~= eln),
line = fgetl(fid);
printf('line %i: %s\n',eln,line);

Insert non-formatted text here


Translation of: Lua
iter = io.lines 'test.txt'
for i=0, 5
error 'Not 7 lines in file' if not iter!
print iter!


/* NetRexx */
options replace format comments java crossref symbols nobinary
parse arg inFileName lineNr .
if inFileName = '' | inFileName = '.' then inFileName = './data/input.txt'
if lineNr = '' | lineNr = '.' then lineNr = 7
lineTxt = readLine(inFileName, lineNr)
say '<textline number="'lineNr.right(5, 0)'">'lineTxt'</textline>'
catch ex = Exception
-- =============================================================================
-- NetRexx/Java programs don't have a special mechanism to seek to a specified line number
-- the simple solution is to iterate through file. (Costly for very large files)
method readLine(inFileName, lineNr) public static signals IOException, FileNotFoundException
lineReader = LineNumberReader(FileReader(File(inFileName)))
notFound = isTrue
lineTxt = ''
loop label reading forever
line = lineReader.readLine()
when lineReader.getLineNumber() = lineNr then do
lineTxt = line
notFound = isFalse
leave reading -- terminate I/O loop
when line = null then do
leave reading -- terminate I/O loop
otherwise nop
end reading
if notFound then signal RuntimeException('File' inFileName 'does not contain line' lineNr.right(5))
return lineTxt
-- =============================================================================
method isTrue() public static returns boolean
return 1 == 1
-- =============================================================================
method isFalse() public static returns boolean
return \(1 == 1)


line: TaintedString
f = open("test.txt", fmRead)
for x in 0 .. 6:
line = readLine f
except EIO:
echo "Not 7 lines in file"


OCaml does not provide built-in facilities to obtain a particular line from a file. It only provides a function to read one line from a file from the current position in the input channel input_line. We can use this function to get the seventh line from a file, for example as follows:

let input_line_opt ic =
try Some (input_line ic)
with End_of_file -> None
let nth_line n filename =
let ic = open_in filename in
let rec aux i =
match input_line_opt ic with
| Some line ->
if i = n then begin
close_in ic;
end else aux (succ i)
| None ->
close_in ic;
failwith "end of file reached"
aux 1
let () =
print_endline (nth_line 7 Sys.argv.(1))


GP is not able to read specific lines, only whole files. For this capability one can use the extern, externstr, or system commands together with, e.g., the AWK solution, or else use the C solution from within PARI itself.


Works with: Free_Pascal
Program FileTruncate;
filename = 'test';
position = 7;
myfile: text;
line: string;
counter: integer;
if not FileExists(filename) then
writeln('Error: File does not exist.');
Assign(myfile, filename);
counter := 0;
if eof(myfile) then
writeln('Error: The file "', filename, '" is too short. Cannot read line ', position);
until counter = position - 1;
readln(myfile, line);


line 7 from file test


#!/usr/bin/perl -s
# invoke as <scriptname> -n=7 [input]
while (<>) { $. == $n and print, exit }
die "file too short\n";

Perl 6[edit]

say lines[6] // die "Short file";

Without an argument, the lines function reads filenames from the command line, or defaults to standard input. It then returns a lazy list, which we subscript to get the 7th element. Assuming this code is in a program called line7:

$ cal 2011 > cal.txt
$ line7 cal.txt
16 17 18 19 20 21 22  20 21 22 23 24 25 26  20 21 22 23 24 25 26  

This works even on infinite files because lists are lazy:

$ yes | line7


(in "file.txt"
(do 6 (line))
(or (line) (quit "No 7 lines")) )


declare text character (1000) varying, line_no fixed;
get (line_no);
on endfile (f) begin;
put skip list ('the specified line does not exist');
go to next;
get file (f) edit ((text do i = 1 to line_no)) (L);
put skip list (text);
next: ;


Works with: PowerShell version 3.0
$file = Get-Content c:\file.txt
if ($file.count -lt 7)
{Write-Warning "The file is too short!"}
$file | Where Readcount -eq 7 | set-variable -name Line7


Using only builtins (note that enumerate is zero-based):

with open('xxx.txt') as f:
for i, line in enumerate(f):
if i == 6:
print('Not 7 lines in file')
line = None

Using the islice iterator function from the itertools standard library module, which applies slicing to an iterator and thereby skips over the first six lines:

from itertools import islice
with open('xxx.txt') as f:
line = next(islice(f, 6, 7))
except StopIteration:
print('Not 7 lines in file')

Similar to the Ruby implementation, this will read up to the first 7 lines, returning only the last. Note that the 'readlines' method reads the entire file contents into memory first as opposed to using the file iterator itself which is more performant for large files.

print open('xxx.txt').readlines()[:7][-1]


Structure lineLastRead
Procedure readNthLine(file, n, *results.lineLastRead)
*results\lineRead = 0
While *results\lineRead < n And Not Eof(file)
*results\line = ReadString(file)
*results\lineRead + 1
If *results\lineRead = n
ProcedureReturn 1
Define filename.s = OpenFileRequester("Choose file to read a line from", "*.*", "All files (*.*)|*.*", 0)
If filename
Define file = ReadFile(#PB_Any, filename)
If file
Define fileReadResults.lineLastRead, lineToRead = 7
If readNthLine(file, lineToRead, fileReadResults)
MessageRequester("Results", fileReadResults\line)
MessageRequester("Error", "There are less than " + Str(lineToRead) + " lines in file.")
MessageRequester("Error", "Couldn't open file " + filename + ".")


> seven <- scan('hw.txt', '', skip = 6, nlines = 1, sep = '\n') # too short
Read 0 items
> seven <- scan('Incoming/quotes.txt', '', skip = 6, nlines = 1, sep = '\n')
Read 1 item


#lang racket
;; simple, but reads the whole file
(define s1 (list-ref (file->lines "some-file") 6))
;; more efficient: read and discard n-1 lines
(define s2
(call-with-input-file "some-file"
(λ(i) (for/last ([line (in-lines i)] [n 7]) line))))


x: pick read/lines request-file/only 7
either x [print x] [print "No seventh line"]


for newer REXXes[edit]

/*REXX program reads a specific line from a file  (and displays the length and content).*/
parse arg FID n . /*obtain optional arguments from the CL*/
if FID=='' | FID=="," then FID= 'JUNK.TXT' /*not specified? Then use the default.*/
if n=='' | n=="," then n=7 /* " " " " " " */
if lines(FID)==0 then call ser "wasn't found." /*see if the file exists (or not). */
call linein FID, n-1 /*read the record previous to N. */
if lines(FID)==0 then call ser "doesn't contain" N 'lines.'
/* [↑] any more lines to read in file?*/
$=linein(FID) /*read the Nth record in the file. */
say 'File ' FID " line " N ' has a length of: ' length($)
say 'File ' FID " line " N 'contents: ' $ /*display the contents of the Nth line.*/
exit /*stick a fork in it, we're all done. */
ser: say; say '***error!*** File ' FID " " arg(1); say; exit 13

for older REXXes[edit]

Some older REXXes don't support a 2nd argument for the   linein   BIF, so here is an alternative:

/*REXX program reads a specific line from a file  (and displays the length and content).*/
parse arg FID n . /*obtain optional arguments from the CL*/
if FID=='' | FID=="," then FID= 'JUNK.TXT' /*not specified? Then use the default.*/
if n=='' | n=="," then n=7 /* " " " " " " */
if lines(FID)==0 then call ser "wasn't found." /*see if the file exists (or not). */
do n-1
call linein FID /*read all the lines previous to N. */
end /*n-1*/
if lines(FID)==0 then call ser "doesn't contain" N 'lines.'
/* [↑] any more lines to read in file?*/
$=linein(FID) /*read the Nth record in the file. */
say 'File ' FID " line " N ' has a length of: ' length($)
say 'File ' FID " line " N 'contents: ' $ /*display the contents of the Nth line.*/
exit /*stick a fork in it, we're all done. */
ser: say; say '***error!*** File ' FID " " arg(1); say; exit 13


fp = fopen("C:\Ring\ReadMe.txt","r")
n = 0
r = ""
while isstring(r)
while n < 8
r = fgetc(fp)
if r = char(10) n++ see nl
else see r ok


The each_line method returns an Enumerator, so no more than seven lines are read.

 seventh_line = open("/etc/passwd").each_line.take(7).last

Run BASIC[edit]

fileName$    = "f:\sample.txt"
requiredLine = 7
open fileName$ for input as #f
for i = 1 to requiredLine
if not(eof(#f)) then line input #f, a$
next i
close #f
print a$


The code will throw a NoSuchElementException if the file doesn't have 7 lines.

val lines = io.Source.fromFile("input.txt").getLines
val seventhLine = lines drop(6) next

Solving the task to the letter, imperative version:

var lines: Iterator[String] = _
try {
lines = io.Source.fromFile("input.txt").getLines drop(6)
} catch {
case exc: =>
println("File not found")
var seventhLine: String = _
if (lines != null) {
if (lines.isEmpty) println("too few lines in file")
else seventhLine = lines next
if ("" == seventhLine) println("line is empty")

Functional version:

val file = try Left(io.Source.fromFile("input.txt")) catch {
case exc => Right(exc.getMessage)
val seventhLine = (for(f <- file.left;
line <- f.getLines.toStream.drop(6).headOption.toLeft("too few lines").left) yield
if (line == "") Right("line is empty") else Left(line)).joinLeft


To print seventh line

sed -n 7p

To print error message if no such line

sed -n '7{p;h;}; ${x;/^$/s/^/Error: no such line/p}'

That is we remember (h) the line, if any, in hold space. At last line ($) we exchange (x) pattern space and hold space. If hold space was empty -- print error message.


The function getLine skips lines with readln and reads the requested line with getln afterwards:

$ include "seed7_05.s7i";
const func string: getLine (inout file: aFile, in var integer: lineNum) is func
var string: line is "";
while lineNum > 1 and hasNext(aFile) do
end while;
line := getln(aFile);
end func;
const proc: main is func
var string: fileName is "input.txt";
var file: aFile is STD_NULL;
var string: line is "";
aFile := open(fileName, "r");
if aFile = STD_NULL then
writeln("Cannot open " <& fileName);
line := getLine(aFile, 7);
if eof(aFile) then
writeln("The file does not have 7 lines");
writeln("The 7th line of the file is:");
end if;
end if;
end func;


func getNthLine(filename, n) {
var file =;
file.open_r.each { |line|
Num($.) == n && return line;
warn "file #{file} does not have #{n} lines, only #{$.}\n";
return nil;
var line = getNthLine("/etc/passwd", 7);
print line if defined line;


line := (StandardFileStream oldFileNamed: 'test.txt') contents lineNumber: 7.


This code can deal with very large files with very long lines (up to 1 billion characters in a line should work fine, provided enough memory is available) and will return an empty string when the nth line is empty (as an empty line is still a valid line).

proc getNthLineFromFile {filename n} {
set f [open $filename]
while {[incr n -1] > 0} {
if {[gets $f line] < 0} {
close $f
error "no such line"
close $f
return $line
puts [getNthLineFromFile example.txt 7]

Where it is necessary to provide very fast access to lines of text, it becomes sensible to create an index file describing the locations of the starts of lines so that the reader code can seek directly to the right location. This is rarely needed, but can occasionally be helpful.


 %file = new fileObject();
 $seventhLine = "";
 	if(%line == 7)
 		$seventhLine = %file.readLine();
 		if($seventhLine $= "")
 			error("Line 7 of the file is blank!");
 if(%line < 7)
 	error("The file does not have seven lines!");




From the top[edit]

Variable "line" matches and takes eighth line of input:

@(skip nil 7)

From the bottom[edit]

Take the third line from the bottom of the file, if it exists.

@(skip 1 2)

How this works is that the first skip will skip enough lines until the rest of the query successfully matches the input. The rest of the query matches a line, then skips two lines, and matches on EOF. So @line can only match at one location: three lines up from the end of the file. If the file doesn't have at least three lines, the query fails.

UNIX Shell[edit]

Translation of: Tcl
Works with: bash
get_nth_line() { 
local file=$1 n=$2 line
while ((n-- > 0)); do
if ! IFS= read -r line; then
echo "No such line $2 in $file"
return 1
done < "$file"
echo "$line"
get_nth_line filename 7


decl string<> lines
decl file f "filename.txt"
set lines (f.readlines)
if (< (size lines) 7)
out "the file has less than seven lines" endl console
end if
out "the seventh line in the file is:" endl endl console
out lines<6> endl console


Function read_line(filepath,n)
Set objFSO = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set objFile = objFSO.OpenTextFile(filepath,1)
arrLines = Split(objFile.ReadAll,vbCrLf)
If UBound(arrLines) >= n-1 Then
If arrLines(n-1) <> "" Then
read_line = arrLines(n-1)
read_line = "Line " & n & " is null."
End If
read_line = "Line " & n & " does not exist."
End If
Set objFSO = Nothing
End Function
WScript.Echo read_line("c:\temp\input.txt",7)

Vedit macro language[edit]

This example reads the 7th line (including newline character(s)) into text register 10.

File_Open("example.txt", BROWSE)
if (Cur_Line < 7) {
Statline_Message("File contains too few lines")
} else {
if (At_EOL) {
Statline_Message("Empty line")
Reg_Copy(10, 1)

If the file does not exist, the buffer will be empty and you get "File contains too few lines" error.

If the line is too long (more than about 230,000 characters), Vedit displays error message "Block too large for text registers, try clipboard"). This error could be avoided by reading the line to clipboard (which has larger size limit) or by copying the line to another edit buffer using a tmp file (in which case there is no size limit).


Filename.ext must be terminated with an EOF character (hex 1A). Usage: readline <filename.ext

include c:\cxpl\codes;  \intrinsic 'code' declarations
def MaxLen = 82; \maximum length of line that can be stored (incl CR+LF)
func ReadLine(N, L); \Read line N from input file and return it in string L
int N; char L;
int I, C;
[for I:= 1 to N-1 do \skip to start of specified line
repeat C:= ChIn(1);
if C = $1A\EOF\ then
[Text(0, "File only has "); IntOut(0, I);
Text(0, " lines^M^J"); return false];
until C = $0A\LF\;
I:= 0;
repeat C:= ChIn(1);
if C = $1A\EOF\ then
[Text(0, "Line is empty (EOF)^M^L"); return false];
L(I):= C; I:= I+1;
until C=$0A\LF\ or I>=MaxLen;
if I >= MaxLen then Text(0, "Line might be truncated^M^J");
if I = 2 then Text(0, "Line is empty^M^J");
L(I-1):= L(I-1) ! $80; \terminate string
return true;
char LineN(MaxLen);
if ReadLine(7, LineN) then Text(0, LineN)


Many zkl sequence objects contain a readln method, some contain a seek (or equivalent) method. However, File only has readln. If, for some, reason, the nth line can't be read, an exception is thrown.

reg line; do(7){line=File.stdin.readln()} println(">>>",line);

Or, suck in lines and take the last one:

lines:=File.stdin.readln(7); println(">>>",line[-1]);