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Double quote to prevent globbing and word splitting.

  eval shellspec_syntax_dispatch modifier ${1+'"$@"'}
Severity: Minor
Found in lib/core/modifiers/ by shellcheck

Double quote to prevent globbing and word splitting.

Problematic code:

echo $1
for i in $*; do :; done # this done and the next one also applies to expanding arrays.
for i in $@; do :; done

Correct code:

echo "$1"
for i in "$@"; do :; done # or, 'for i; do'


The first code looks like "print the first argument". It's actually "Split the first argument by IFS (spaces, tabs and line feeds). Expand each of them as if it was a glob. Join all the resulting strings and filenames with spaces. Print the result."

The second one looks like "iterate through all arguments". It's actually "join all the arguments by the first character of IFS (space), split them by IFS and expand each of them as globs, and iterate on the resulting list". The third one skips the joining part.

Quoting variables prevents word splitting and glob expansion, and prevents the script from breaking when input contains spaces, line feeds, glob characters and such.

Strictly speaking, only expansions themselves need to be quoted, but for stylistic reasons, entire arguments with multiple variable and literal parts are often quoted as one:

$HOME/$dir/dist/bin/$file        # Unquoted (bad)
"$HOME"/"$dir"/dist/bin/"$file"  # Minimal quoting (good)
"$HOME/$dir/dist/bin/$file"      # Canonical quoting (good)

When quoting composite arguments, make sure to exclude globs and brace expansions, which lose their special meaning in double quotes: "$HOME/$dir/src/*.c" will not expand, but "$HOME/$dir/src"/*.c will.

Note that $( ) starts a new context, and variables in it have to be quoted independently:

echo "This $variable is quoted $(but this $variable is not)"
echo "This $variable is quoted $(and now this "$variable" is too)"


Sometimes you want to split on spaces, like when building a command line:

options="-j 5 -B"
make $options file

Just quoting this doesn't work. Instead, you should have used an array (bash, ksh, zsh):

options=(-j 5 -B) # ksh: set -A options -- -j 5 -B
make "${options[@]}" file

or a function (POSIX):

make_with_flags() { make -j 5 -B "$@"; }
make_with_flags file

To split on spaces but not perform glob expansion, Posix has a set -f to disable globbing. You can disable word splitting by setting IFS=''.

Similarly, you might want an optional argument:

[[ $1 == "--trace-commands" ]] && debug="-x"
bash $debug script

Quoting this doesn't work, since in the default case, "$debug" would expand to one empty argument while $debug would expand into zero arguments. In this case, you can use an array with zero or one elements as outlined above, or you can use an unquoted expansion with an alternate value:

[[ $1 == "--trace-commands" ]] && debug="yes"
bash ${debug:+"-x"} script

This is better than an unquoted value because the alternative value can be properly quoted, e.g. wget ${output:+ -o "$output"}.

As always, this warning can be [[ignore]]d on a case-by-case basis.

this is especially relevant when BASH many not be available for the array work around. For example, use in eval or in command options where script has total control of the variables...

FLAGS="-av -e 'ssh -x' --delete --delete-excluded"
# shellcheck disable=SC2086
eval rsync $FLAGS ~/dir remote_host:dir


Original content from the ShellCheck

Quote this to prevent word splitting.

count source $(sources)
Severity: Minor
Found in contrib/ by shellcheck

Quote this to prevent word splitting

Problematic code:

ls -l $(getfilename)

Correct code:

# getfilename outputs 1 file
ls -l "$(getfilename)"

# getfilename outputs multiple files, linefeed separated
getfilename | while IFS='' read -r line
  ls -l "$line"


When command expansions are unquoted, word splitting and globbing will occur. This often manifests itself by breaking when filenames contain spaces.

Trying to fix it by adding quotes or escapes to the data will not work. Instead, quote the command substitution itself.

If the command substitution outputs multiple pieces of data, use a loop instead.


In rare cases you actually want word splitting, such as in

gcc $(pkg-config --libs openssl) client.c

This is because pkg-config outputs -lssl -lcrypto, which you want to break up by spaces into -lssl and -lcrypto. An alternative is to put the variables to an array and expand it:

args=( $(pkg-config --libs openssl) )
gcc "${args[@]}" client.c

The power of using an array becomes evident when you want to combine, for example, the command result with user-provided arguments:

compile () {
    args=( $(pkg-config --libs openssl) "${@}" )
    gcc "${args[@]}" client.c
compile -DDEBUG
+ gcc -lssl -lcrypto -DDEBUG client.c


Original content from the ShellCheck

Don't use variables in the printf format string. Use printf "..%s.." "$foo".

  printf "${color}##############################\n\033[m"
Severity: Minor
Found in contrib/ by shellcheck

Don't use variables in the printf format string. Use printf "..%s.." "$foo".

Problematic code:

printf "Hello, $NAME\n"

Correct code:

printf "Hello, %s\n" "$NAME"


printf interprets escape sequences and format specifiers in the format string. If variables are included, any escape sequences or format specifiers in the data will be interpreted too, when you most likely wanted to treat it as data. Example:

printf "Unit test coverage: %s\n" "$coverage"
printf "Unit test coverage: $coverage\n"

The first printf writes Unit test coverage: 96%.

The second writes bash: printf: `\': invalid format character


Sometimes you may actually want to interpret data as a format string, like in:

hexToAscii() { printf "\x$1"; }
hexToAscii 21

or when you have a pattern in a variable:

printf -v filename "$filepattern" "$number"

These are valid use cases with no useful rewrites. Please [[ignore]] the warnings with a [[directive]].


Original content from the ShellCheck