Reading Text Files in MATLAB

Reading text files is a fundamental task in data analysis and processing. MATLAB provides a variety of functions to help (matlab read text file) you read and manipulate text files efficiently. In this article, we’ll explore how to read text files in MATLAB, discuss different approaches, and provide a graphical example to demonstrate the process.

Using the textread Function

The textread function allows you to read data from a text file and store it in arrays. The syntax is as follows:

[A, B, ...] = textread(filename, format);


  • filename is the name of the text file
  • format specifies the format of the data to be read
  • A, B, ... are arrays to store the read data

Using the importdata Function

The importdata function is another option to read text files, providing a more versatile approach. The syntax is as follows:

data = importdata(filename);

This function automatically detects the format and structure of the text file, making it suitable for various file formats.

Example with importdata

Let’s create a graphical example to illustrate reading a text file in MATLAB:

% Read data from a text file using textread
filename = 'data.txt';
[A, B, C] = textread(filename, '%f %f %f');

% Alternatively, read data using importdata
data = importdata(filename);

% Display the read data

Graphical Example

Let’s create a graphical example that demonstrates creating and reading a text file:

% Create a sample text file
fileID = fopen('sample.txt', 'w');
fprintf(fileID, 'Hello, MATLAB!\nThis is a text file example.\n');

% Read the contents of the text file
data = textread('sample.txt', '%s', 'delimiter', '\n');

% Display the contents
matlab read text file

Explanation of the Example

In the example above, we first create a text file named sample.txt using the fopen and fprintf functions. We then read the contents of the file using textread with the format specifier '%s' to read each line as a string. The 'delimiter', '\n' option specifies that lines are separated by newline characters.


Reading text files in MATLAB is a crucial step in data analysis and manipulation. Whether you use the textread function for structured reading or the importdata function for more versatile handling, MATLAB provides powerful tools to help you effectively work with text data.

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