C Data Types

In this tutorial, you will learn about basic data types such as int, float, char etc. in C programming.

In C programming, data types are declarations for variables. This determines the type and size of data associated with variables. For example,

int myVar;

Here, myVar is a variable of int (integer) type. The size of int is 4 bytes.


Basic types

Here's a table containing commonly used types in C programming for quick access.

Type Size (bytes) Format Specifier
int at least 2, usually 4 %d
char 1 %c
float 4 %f
double 8 %lf
short int 2 usually %hd
unsigned int at least 2, usually 4 %u
long int at least 4, usually 8 %li
long long int at least 8 %lli
unsigned long int at least 4 %lu
unsigned long long int at least 8 %llu
signed char 1 %c
unsigned char 1 %c
long double at least 10, usually 12 or 16 %Lf

int

Integers are whole numbers that can have both zero, positive and negative values but no decimal values. For example, 0, -5, 10

We can use int for declaring an integer variable.

int id;

Here, id is a variable of type integer.

You can declare multiple variables at once in C programming. For example,

int id, age;

The size of int is usually 4 bytes (32 bits). And, it can take 232 distinct states from -2147483648 to 2147483647.


float and double

float and double are used to hold real numbers.

float salary;
double price;

In C, floating-point numbers can also be represented in exponential. For example,

float normalizationFactor = 22.442e2;

What's the difference between float and double?

The size of float (single precision float data type) is 4 bytes. And the size of double (double precision float data type) is 8 bytes.


char

Keyword char is used for declaring character type variables. For example,

char test = 'h';

The size of the character variable is 1 byte.


void

void is an incomplete type. It means "nothing" or "no type". You can think of void as absent.

For example, if a function is not returning anything, its return type should be void.

Note that, you cannot create variables of void type.


short and long

If you need to use a large number, you can use a type specifier long. Here's how:

long a;
long long b;
long double c;

Here variables a and b can store integer values. And, c can store a floating-point number.

If you are sure, only a small integer ([−32,767, +32,767] range) will be used, you can use short.

short d;

You can always check the size of a variable using the sizeof() operator.

#include <stdio.h>      
int main() {
  short a;
  long b;
  long long c;
  long double d;

  printf("size of short = %d bytes\n", sizeof(a));
  printf("size of long = %d bytes\n", sizeof(b));
  printf("size of long long = %d bytes\n", sizeof(c));
  printf("size of long double= %d bytes\n", sizeof(d));
  return 0;
}

signed and unsigned

In C, signed and unsigned are type modifiers. You can alter the data storage of a data type by using them. For example,

unsigned int x;
int y;

Here, the variable x can hold only zero and positive values because we have used the unsigned modifier.

Considering the size of int is 4 bytes, variable y can hold values from -231 to 231-1, whereas variable x can hold values from 0 to 232-1.


Other data types defined in C programming are:

  • bool Type
  • Enumerated type
  • Complex types

Derived Data Types

Data types that are derived from fundamental data types are derived types. For example: arrays, pointers, function types, structures, etc.

We will learn about these derived data types in later tutorials.