Text (.txt)

Plain text file.
Universal format for storage and exchange of textual information.
Represents text as a sequence of characters and line separators.
Stores characters as ASCII, 8-bit Western character codes, or Unicode.
  • Import and Export support a variety of Western character encodings and the Unicode standard.
  • UTF (Unicode Transformation Format) and UCS (Universal Character Set) mapping methods are supported.
  • Mathematica can display a wide range of character sets, including Western and Asian scripts, mathematical symbols, and other special characters.

Import and ExportImport and Export

  • Import["file.txt"] imports a text file as a string.
  • Export["file.txt", expr] exports any expression to a text file.
  • Import["file.txt"] returns a string.
  • Export["file.txt", expr] creates a text file from the OutputForm representation of expr.
  • Import["file.txt", elem] imports the specified element from a text file.
  • Import["file.txt", {elem, suba, subb, ...}] imports a subelement.
  • Import["file.txt", {{elem1, elem2, ...}}] imports multiple elements.
  • The import format can be specified with Import["file", "Text"] or Import["file", {"Text", elem, ...}].
  • Export["file.txt", expr, elem] creates a text file by treating expr as specifying element elem.
  • Export["file.txt", {expr1, expr2, ...}, {{elem1, elem2, ...}}] treats each as specifying the corresponding .
  • Export["file.txt", expr, opt1->val1, ...] exports expr with the specified option elements taken to have the specified values.
  • Export["file.txt", {elem1->expr1, elem2->expr2, ...}, "Rules"] uses rules to specify the elements to be exported.
  • See the reference pages for full general information on Import and Export.
  • ImportString and ExportString support text formats.

Notebook InterfaceNotebook Interface

  • Save Selection As exports the selected part of a notebook as a plain text file.


  • General Import elements:
  • "Elements" list of elements and options available in this file
    "Rules"full list of rules for each element and option
    "Options"list of rules for options, properties, and settings
  • Data representation elements:
  • "Data"tabular representation of the text
    "Lines"lines, given as a list of strings
    "Plaintext"text file represented as a single Mathematica string
    "String"raw byte string
    "Words"words separated by spaces, given as a list of strings
  • Import and Export use the element by default.
  • Import["file.txt"] reads a text file, taking the character encoding to be by default.
  • Import["file.txt", "Data"] attempts to read any text file as TSV, CSV, or Table, returning an array of strings and numbers.
  • Import["file", {"Text", "String"}] or Import["file.txt", "String"] imports a raw sequence of bytes and returns them as a Mathematica character string.
  • Specifying and selecting subelements of text files:
  • "Lines",nthe n^(th) line of the file
    "Words",nthe n^(th) word in the file
  • When importing from a text file, Import automatically replaces any character sequence commonly used as a line separator with .
  • Mathematica typically uses character code 10 () as a line separator in the internal representation of text.
  • Export uses the line separator convention of the computer system on which Mathematica is being run.


  • General Import and Export option:
  • CharacterEncoding"UTF8"raw character encoding used in the file
  • Possible settings for CharacterEncoding include:
  • "AdobeStandard"Adobe standard PostScript font encoding
    "ASCII"full ASCII, with control characters
    "EUC"extended Unix code for Japanese
    "ISOLatin1"ISO 8859-1 standard
    "ISOLatin2"ISO 8859-2 standard
    "ISOLatin3"ISO 8859-3 standard
    "ISOLatin4"ISO 8859-4 standard
    "ISOLatinCyrillic"ISO 8859-5 standard
    "MacintoshRoman"Macintosh roman font encoding
    "PrintableASCII"printable ASCII
    "ShiftJIS"Shift-JIS encoding of JIS X 0208-1990 and extensions
    "Symbol"symbol font encoding
    "Unicode"raw 2-byte Unicode values
    "UTF8"variable-width 1-byte Unicode format
    "WindowsANSI"Windows standard font encoding
  • Mathematica internally stores characters as Unicode values.
  • When importing or exporting text with the setting CharacterEncoding->"Unicode", Mathematica always assumes the byte ordering given by ByteOrdering->1.
  • A complete list of possible encodings is given by $CharacterEncodings.

ExamplesExamplesopen allclose all

Basic Examples (3)Basic Examples (3)

Import a text file and return the first few characters:

Click for copyable input

Import the first line from this file:

Click for copyable input

Import three lines:

Click for copyable input

Import this file using the element:

Click for copyable input

Any plain text file can be imported as text:

Click for copyable input

Export an arbitrary expression to text:

Click for copyable input
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