C Programming String

In C programming, array of character are called strings. A string is terminated by null character /0. For example:

"c string tutorial"

Here, "c string tutorial" is a string. When, compiler encounters strings, it appends null character at the end of string.

Memory diagram of strings in C programming

Declaration of strings

Strings are declared in C in similar manner as arrays. Only difference is that, strings are of char type.

char s[5];

Declaration of strings in C language

Strings can also be declared using pointer.

char *p

Initialization of strings

In C, string can be initialized in different number of ways.

char c[]="abcd";
char c[5]="abcd";
char c[]={'a','b','c','d','\0'};
char c[5]={'a','b','c','d','\0'};

Initialization of strings in C programming

String can also be initialized using pointers

char *c="abcd";

Reading Strings from user.

Reading words from user.

char c[20];

String variable c can only take a word. It is beacause when white space is encountered, the scanf() function terminates.

Write a C program to illustrate how to read string from terminal.

#include <stdio.h>
int main(){
    char name[20];
    printf("Enter name: ");
    printf("Your name is %s.",name);
    return 0;


Enter name: Dennis Ritchie
Your name is Dennis.

Here, program will ignore Ritchie because, scanf() function takes only string before the white space.

Reading a line of text

C program to read line of text manually.

#include <stdio.h>
int main(){
    char name[30],ch;
    int i=0;
    printf("Enter name: ");
    while(ch!='\n')    // terminates if user hit enter
    name[i]='\0';       // inserting null character at end
    printf("Name: %s",name);
    return 0;

This process to take string is tedious. There are predefined functions gets() and puts in C language to read and display string respectively.

int main(){
    char name[30];
    printf("Enter name: ");
    gets(name);     //Function to read string from user.
    printf("Name: ");
    puts(name);    //Function to display string.
    return 0;

Both, the above program has same output below:


Enter name: Tom Hanks
Name: Tom Hanks

Passing Strings to Functions

String can be passed to function in similar manner as arrays as, string is also an array. Learn more about passing array to a function.

#include <stdio.h>
void Display(char ch[]);
int main(){
    char c[50];
    printf("Enter string: ");
    Display(c);     // Passing string c to function.    
    return 0;
void Display(char ch[]){
    printf("String Output: ");

Here, string c is passed from main() function to user-defined function Display(). In function declaration, ch[] is the formal argument. 

String handling functions

You can perform different type of string operations manually like: finding length of string, concatenating(joining) two strings etc. But, for programmers ease, many library function are defined under header file <string.h> to handle these commonly used talk in C programming. You will learn more about string hadling function in next chapter.