Published Aug 25, 2021Updated Nov 19, 2022
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Strings are character sequences that are either expressed in double quotes or as arrays that end with a null character '\0'.


char string-name[];
char string_name[] = "abcd";
char string_name[size] = {'a', 'b', 'c', 'd', '\0'};

Strings in C are first declared with the char data type, followed by the string_name, and then immediately followed by square brackets []. The snippet above showcases the two ways that string values are initialized:

  • Zero or more characters, digits, and escape sequences surrounded in double quotes.
  • An array of comma-separated characters, surrounded in curly brackets { }, and ending with a null character '\0'*.

* This is required when an optional size is passed to square brackets to specify the number of characters in the string.


The following declaration and initialization create a string of "Howdy":

char message[6] = {'H', 'o', 'w', 'd', 'y', '\0'};

Even though "Howdy" has only 5 characters, message has 6 characters due to the null character at the end of the message array.

The above statement can be rewritten as:

char message[] = "Howdy";


Here’s the memory presentation:

Character |   'H'    'o'    'w'    'd'    'y'   '\0'
Index     |    0      1      2      3      4      5
Address   |  23451  23452  23453  23454  23455  23456

Displaying a String

To display a string in C, the printf() function from the stdio.h header file can be used along with the %s character to format strings, followed by the string name.

Display Example

The following is an example of displaying a string in C:

#include <stdio.h>
int main() {
char message[] = "Hi y'all!";
printf("Bot: %s\n", message);
return 0;

The output would be:

Bot: Hi y'all!

String Functions

The string.h header defines a handful of string functions for manipulating arrays of characters.


Finds the first occurrence of a given character.
Compares two strings and returns an integer value.
Copies one string into another string, and returns the newly copied string
Returns the length of the string without including the terminating character.
Breaks a string into a series of tokens using a list of delimiters.

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