I am preparing data used by a command line program. It requires data in a simpliest possible format:

value_x1 value_y1
value_x2 value_y2
value_xN value_yN

For now I always need to use Python to process a datafile created in Mathematica that format, because Mathematica always adds quotes " or multiple blank spaces or tabs. How can I create a file in a format:


OpenWrite[], Write[], Export[,"Table"] etc. produce files with additional characters, and therefore are useless without processing in Python.

Edit: What if I needed to create a file in a format:

<value_x1><single_space_sign><some string character><value_y1><end_of_line_sign>
<value_x2><single_space_sign><some string character><value_y2><end_of_line_sign>
<value_xN><single_space_sign><some string character><value_yN><end_of_line_sign>

Edit 2: Proposed answer:

dat = Table[{i, Sin[i]}, {i, 4}] // N;
Export["test.dat", dat]

produces file containing following data:

{1., 0.8414709848078965}
{2., 0.9092974268256817}
{3., 0.1411200080598672}
{4., -0.7568024953079282}

Which is useless.

  • $\begingroup$ It won't work. First: arguments are misplaced. Second: it will return values in braces {}. What I am asking: is this "small variation" which I can't figure out. $\endgroup$
    – Misery
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ it works on mac-os with 'Mathematica 9.0' $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ As usual... make difficult things in Mathematica easily, be unable to make simpliest things. Lol $\endgroup$
    – Misery
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ also works in mathematica 8.0 and 7.0 $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can do this in Python. I would like to have this ultra-mega-incredible feature also in mathematica :] $\endgroup$
    – Misery
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:48

3 Answers 3



dat = Table[{i, Sin[i]}, {i, 4}] // N;
Export["test.dat", dat]

So that



(* 1. 0.8414709848078965 2. 0.9092974268256817 3. 0.1411200080598672 4. -0.7568024953079282 *)

  • $\begingroup$ It saves values in braces {} to a file: {x,y} $\endgroup$
    – Misery
    Apr 27, 2014 at 13:35
dat = Table[{i, Sin[i], Cos[i], Tan[i]}, {i, 4}] // N;

Export["test.txt", dat, "Table",  "FieldSeparators" -> " "]

  1. 0.8414709848078965 0.5403023058681397 1.5574077246549023
  2. 0.9092974268256817 -0.4161468365471424 -2.185039863261519
  3. 0.1411200080598672 -0.9899924966004454 -0.1425465430742778
  4. -0.7568024953079282 -0.6536436208636119 1.1578212823495777

Nothing new here. It's all in the documentation.

  • $\begingroup$ How can I insert there also a string so it appears without quote marks? 1. 0.84 0.54 " string" 1.55 $\endgroup$
    – Misery
    Apr 27, 2014 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ @misery Just put it in the dat list above. It gets exported without quotes. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2014 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @SjoerdC.deVries do you understand why my answer not work in windows as claimed? $\endgroup$
    – chris
    Apr 27, 2014 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ @chris If I use a.txt extension for the file and your answer I get the behavior Misery reports. If I use .dat as extension one would think it works, but it actually uses tab characters as field separators. My guess is that Misery wrote to a .txt file which yields a different default behavior than to .dat files. By using "Table" as an explicit export format I overruled MMA's format guessing based on extension. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2014 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Misery This also works for me in version 7 under Windows 7. If I use e.g. dat = {{1, "foo"}, {2.2, bar}, {Pi, -7.31*^134}} there are no quotation marks around foo in the output. Are you saying this does not work on your system? $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Apr 27, 2014 at 19:38

I don't know if this may be the issue, but specifying "FieldSeparators" to a space causes multi-word strings to be quoted:

 ExportString[{{1, 1}, {"dog", "and cat"}}, "Table",  "FieldSeparators" -> " "]

1 1

dog "and cat"

Fix with TextDelimiters

 ExportString[{{1, 1}, {"dog", "and cat"}}, "Table", 
     "FieldSeparators" -> " ", "TextDelimiters" -> ""]

1 1

dog and cat

Obviously you now can't simply read it back in as a table recovering the original strings.

(verifed for export to files under Windows using either a ".dat" extension, or the "Table" argument)

  • $\begingroup$ The quoting of fields that contain a field separator is a standard operating procedure. If this is not done fields cannot be correctly recognized anymore. Try, for instance, saving as CSV an Excel sheet with a text field containing a comma, among other characters. $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2014 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ I did find it in the docs: "By default, Export delimits text fields containing the field separator with double-quote characters." I will take that note out. $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Apr 28, 2014 at 17:42

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