On Sat, 27 Jun 2020 06:50:39 +0100, Jason McIntyre wrote:

> i'm not sure it reads better when we switch the emphasis from whitespace
> to FS. i think it's better that people see how it normally works, then
> the gories about FS. so i'd have kept the first part of the sentence,
> but maybe reworked the FS bit.

I wasn't sure that was an improvement either.  Does this seem better?

 - todd

Index: usr.bin/awk/awk.1
RCS file: /cvs/src/usr.bin/awk/awk.1,v
retrieving revision 1.54
diff -u -p -u -r1.54 awk.1
--- usr.bin/awk/awk.1   26 Jun 2020 21:50:06 -0000      1.54
+++ usr.bin/awk/awk.1   27 Jun 2020 12:29:21 -0000
@@ -130,26 +130,24 @@ and newlines are used as field separator
 This is convenient when working with multi-line records.
 An input line is normally made up of fields separated by whitespace,
-or by the regular expression
-.Va FS .
+or by the value of the field separator
+.Va FS
+at the time the line is read.
 The fields are denoted
 .Va $1 , $2 , ... ,
 .Va $0
 refers to the entire line.
 .Va FS
-is null, the input line is split into one field per character.
-Lines are split into fields using the value of
+may be set to either a single character or a regular expression.
+As as special case, if
 .Va FS
-at the time the line is read.
-Because of this,
+is a single space
+.Pq the default ,
+fields will be split by one or more whitespace characters.
 .Va FS
-is usually set via the
-.Fl F
-option or inside of a
+is null, the input line is split into one field per character.
 Normally, any number of blanks separate fields.
 In order to set the field separator to a single blank, use the
@@ -171,6 +169,11 @@ as the field separator, use the
 .Fl F
 option with a value of
 .Sq [t] .
+The field separator is usually set via the
+.Fl F
+option or from inside a
+block so that it takes effect before the input is read.
 A pattern-action statement has the form:
@@ -407,9 +410,9 @@ The name of the current input file.
 .It Va FNR
 Ordinal number of the current record in the current file.
 .It Va FS
-Regular expression used to separate fields; also settable
-by option
-.Fl F Ar fs .
+Regular expression used to separate fields (default whitespace);
+also settable by option
+.Fl F Ar fs
 .It Va NF
 Number of fields in the current record.
 .Va $NF

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