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$ od -c /tmp/l
0000000   a       v   e   r   y       l   o   n   g       s   t   r   i
0000020   n   g   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  \t   1   1   2
0000040   2   3   2   4   3   2  \t   a   n   o   t   h   e   r   f   i
0000060   e   l   d  \n   a       s   m   a   l   l   e   r       s   t
0000100   r   i   n   g  \t   1   2   3   1   2   4   3   4   3  \t   a
0000120   n   o   t   h   e   r   f   i   e   l   d  \n
0000134

$ column -t -s' ' FILE
a  very     long  string..........      112232432       anotherfield
a  smaller  string      123124343       anotherfield

$ column -t -s $'\t' FILE
a very long string..........  112232432  anotherfield
a smaller string              123124343  anotherfield