I have a csv file that I'm intending to import into a mysql table. I would therefore like to make sure I'm reporting it's LINES TERMINATED BY properly. However I cannot figure out what characters are terminating the lines in this csv.

I'd guess that it's terminated by \n (the standard Unix EOL). How can I determine this for sure?

I've tried

  • cat -v file.csv
  • file file.csv

I've also tried using vim and :set list which just showed the location of line breaks with $

Any suggestions would be appreciated

3 Answers 3


You can create a hex-dump of your file with xxd which is part of the vim-common package.

xxd file.csv | less

Then check the line endings:

  • 0a => \n
  • 0d => \r
  • 0d0a => \r\n
  • od -t x1z | less - should be similar, without requiring an extra package.
    – Hannu
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:44
  • Thats very good, for a large file you can even reverse it: head file.csv | xxd |greo --color 0a will show it. Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 2:09

You can use the file to give you an indication of the type of line endings.


$ file file1.txt
file1.txt: ASCII text


$ file file2.txt
file2.txt: ASCII text, with CRLF line terminators

and knowing that DOS uses carriage return and line feed ("\r\n") as a line ending, which Unix uses just line feed ("\n").

So you can determine what is EOL of any file you want.

  • Thanks for the response. I've seen more exotic line terminations in different examples for example: stackoverflow.com/q/21300075/2540204. Now I'm certain that's not the case here but how would I know if it was? I feel like I should be able to examine it directly. Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:12
  • ...Incidentally the result form file is file.csv: ASCII text Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:13
  • Then it's Unix so the \n would be EOL
    – Maythux
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:14

Instead of CHECKING, why not simply SET the line ending style you prefer:

sudo apt-get dos2unix will give you access to dos2unix and unix2dos command line utilities.

These will convert text files according to the names.

Caveat: files with mixed content has been troublesome, I'm not updated on whether that problem is gone.

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