I have a text file (name, surname, phone number) than I would import in excel and the play with column (name, surname...)

The file was previously a docx file. I've converted it on as a text file. But the converted txt file, has a strange format: Repeated 6 lines block, with each field (name, surname, phone, town)


repeated more times. I would compact each block in a single line and separate field by space. NOTE that xxx1 and yyy1 are name and surname of next person So I can import it in Excel, taking space as a separator column.

How can I do that? I know I can do that in Lisp, but I do not know how.

  • 1
    You say "Repeated 6 lines block" but you mention 4 parts to each block. Could you clarify how to reconcile this 4 vs 6 discrepency?
    – Stefan
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 13:34

3 Answers 3


IIUC you could do that with a keyboard macro.

Place the cursor at the beginning i.e. the very first x.

Define the macro (and also transform the first block):

C-x (
C-q C-j RET
C-x )

Transform the rest by calling the macro until it fails.

C-u 0 C-x e

I would try with sed (unix utility) and regular expressions.

  • I don't think you can do this[1] with sed, at least not easily. awk might be a more reasonable suggestion, but remember, this is an emacs group and the OP asked for a lisp solution (although I have been guilty of suggesting non-lisp, non-emacs solutions a couple of times in the past too :-) ). [1]BTW, it's not clear what "this" is: the question is unclear.
    – NickD
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 4:24
  • 1
    With some bad faith: awk is in Emacs through eshell. Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 23:38

You could use something like this

(defun my-join-n-lines (n)
  (dotimes (_ (1- n))
    (delete-indentation t))

(defun my-join-lines-loop ()
  (interactive "*")
  (while (= 0 (my-join-n-lines 4))))

The first function joins n lines, where n is the argument with which the function is called. The second one, which you can call with M-x my-join-lines-loop, calls my-join-n-lines with argument 4 until the buffer ends. Make sure to call it from the first line of a block otherwise it will merge all the lines with an offset with respect to your desired block-splitting.

You can make my-join-lines-loop accept a prefix argument by using this definition instead of the simpler one above,

(defun my-join-lines-loop (&optional n)
  (interactive "P*")
  (while (= 0 (my-join-n-lines (or n 4)))))

Here the argument is optional and defaults to 4.

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