C Strings

A string constant is an array of characters just like an array of integers. It helps to work with words and sentences in C programming. Yet, an array of integers and character array are not the same as strings.


Learn basic of C programming before you begin with strings. If you are familiar with the C basics continue reading.

  1. C Program Structure.
  2. C Printing Output.
  3. C Reading Input Values.
  4. C Data Types.
  5. C Arrays.

What is a String constant?

A string constant is a one-dimensional array of characters with is terminated by \backslash \emptyset, also called a null character.

char firstname[] = { 'P', 'E', 'T', 'E', 'R', '\0'};

The value of a Null character is \backslash \emptyset and each character in the string constant occupy 1 \hspace{2px}byte of memory. The syntax to initialize a string is very simple.

char name[] = "Rajesh";
  char = data type of string.
  name[]    = indicates that it is a character array or a string.
  "   "   =  double quotes show that the value is a string.
  Rajesh     = actual string value.

The C compiler inserts a \backslash \emptyset automatically, so there is no need to specify null for every string that you create.

String Constant Memory Representation
Figure 1 – String Constant Memory Representation

Reading and Printing String Constant

Reading input and writing out is an important part of the C programming language. To read a string constant use following syntax.

char name[10];
scanf("%s", &name)

You already know that name[10] is declared as a string of type char. The scanf() is a builtin function that read inputs of various data types. To tell scanf() that the input is a string use the modifier “%s”. But, scanf() can only read a single word like “Rajesh”, and not “Rajesh Kumar”.

To read a multi-word string use gets() or do following.

scanf("%[^\n]s", name);

The modifier is used for printing strings. For example,

printf("%s", name);

String Example program

It is time to implement everything you learned so far about strings. In this C program,  you will perform two tasks.

  1. read and print a single word string.
  2. read and print a multi-word string.

Program Code

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
int main()
char input_name[35];
int choice;
/* Menu */
printf("1. Read Single Word\n");
printf("2. Read Multi-Word String\n");
printf("\n\n Enter your Choice:");
case 1: 
    printf("Enter Single Word:");
    scanf("%s", &input_name);
    printf("%s", input_name);
case 1:
    printf("Enter Multi-Word:");
    scanf("%[^\n]s", &input_name);
    printf("%s", input_name);
return 0;


1. Read Single Word
2. Read Multi-Word String
 Enter your Choice:1
Enter Single Word String:Paris
Press any key to continue . . . 


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