I am dealing with a long data in the vim file. I want to separate the positive values and negative values in the 3rd column in separate files.


1.000 3.889  4.666

4.889 2.809 -8.687

3.896 4.797  2.808

2.797 4.098 -0.458

Now I want to have two separate files based on the positive and negative values in 3rd column.

I use an awk command as

awk '$3 ~ /\-/ { print $0 }' chh.dat1

but it is not working.

  • It's not clear if you want to do this at the command line in awk or if you want to do it within vim. Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 15:47
  • 2
    Welcome to Vi and Vim! I’m not clear on what your desired output looks like, nor what « it’s not working » means. Please edit. (I’ve cleaned up some formatting, but I left in some linebreaks whose origin I wasn’t sure of. If they were markdown artifacts, please remove them; if they were part of the example text, leave them in.)
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


Using vim I would do it with 2 steps

put all lines with negatives on third column down


Find all lines that has third column (space delimited) starting with - and some digit. Move that line at the end of buffer.

write them to a separate file

vip:w ~/newfile.dat

Select a paragraph and write selection to the ~/newfile.dat.

remove all negatives from current file


Reselect and delete selection.

PS, although sed or awk might be a better choice for the task.

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