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5.4 Controlling Numeric Output with print

When printing numeric values with the print statement, awk internally converts the number to a string of characters and prints that string. awk uses the sprintf() function to do this conversion (see String Functions). For now, it suffices to say that the sprintf() function accepts a format specification that tells it how to format numbers (or strings), and that there are a number of different ways in which numbers can be formatted. The different format specifications are discussed more fully in Control Letters.

The built-in variable OFMT contains the default format specification that print uses with sprintf() when it wants to convert a number to a string for printing. The default value of OFMT is "%.6g". The way print prints numbers can be changed by supplying different format specifications as the value of OFMT, as shown in the following example:

$ awk 'BEGIN {
>   OFMT = "%.0f"  # print numbers as integers (rounds)
>   print 17.23, 17.54 }'
-| 17 18

According to the POSIX standard, awk’s behavior is undefined if OFMT contains anything but a floating-point conversion specification. (d.c.)