How To Convert Contents of a File to HTML Tables using Shell Script

September 3, 2014 Learning Spot


There are many cases in which we will needing an HTML output for the reports we create using a shell script. For example, if you create a file using a shell script  which contains all the username and their ids from /etc/passwd file, you can convert it into an HTML file for more comprehensible output.

In this tutorial, I will explain how to convert contents of a file to HTML format with proper table headers, rows and columns data.

You might like: Learn Linux in 5 Days and Level Up Your Career


Shell Script to convert contents of a file to HTML Table:

This script converts and creates a new HTML format for the input file. The below script uses “;” delimiter to parse the text file data.  The explanation for running the script is given below the script.

Example input format

Your text file should have values with a delimiter as shown in the example below.

sam; newyork; 1345B; 78sdf3473;
msnam; newsdfyork; 1345B; 783473;
sadfm; newysdfork; 1345B; 7sdf83473;
sam; newysdfork; 1345B; 783sdf473;
sasdfm; newysdfork; 1345B; 7834sdf73;

If the delimiter is other than  “;”, you can change the delimiter in  “while IFS=’;’” to a different delimiter. For example, “while IFS=’-‘”


  #! /bin/bash

    if [ $# -eq 0 ] ; then
       echo "USAGE: $(basename $0) file1 file2 file3 ..."
       exit 1

    for file in $* ; do
       html=$(echo $file | sed 's/\.txt$/\.html/i')

       echo "<html>" >> $html
       echo "<style type="text/css">
            table, th, td {
            border: 1px solid black;
            </style>" >> $html
       echo "   <body>" >> $html
       echo '<table>' >> $html
       echo '<th>HEADING1</th>' >> $html
       echo '<th>HEADING2</th>' >> $html
       echo '<th>HEADING3</th>' >> $html
       echo '<th>HEADING4</th>' >> $html
       while IFS=';' read -ra line ; do
        echo "<tr>" >> $html
        for i in "${line[@]}"; do
           echo "<td>$i</td>" >> $html
         # echo "<td>$i</td>" >> $html
         echo "</tr>" >> $html
       done < $file
        echo '</table>'
        echo "   </body>" >> $html
        echo "</html>" >> $html

1. Save the above script in  .sh format ( for example , )

2. Change the file permissions for execution using the following command.

sudo chmod +x

3. This script takes the text file as an argument . So when you run the script, pass the text file you want to convert as an argument as shown below.

 sudo sh file.txt

4. Once you run the above command , the script will convert all your text data into new HTML file name file.html

5. If you want to convert files other that txt , change the txt format to your desired format in the for loop.

If you want to learn more . You can learn through Linux related courses from Udemy. Click on the below link

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  • Uk

    I find the below error, please advise.

    # sh file.txt syntax error at line 9: `html=$’ unexpected

  • Petru

    Hello! Thank you for the script. Can you check it? It have errors. Error message: 23: read: Illegal option -a; 25: Bad substitution

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