Data Types in C

What is a data type, and how c language stores different data types to store string, float, etc.,

Last Reviewed and Updated on February 7, 2020
Posted by Parveen(Hoven),
Aptitude Trainer and Software Developer

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What is a Datatype?

Each type of data item has a different nature. A datatype is used to describe that nature. Examples of datatypes are int, float, char, double, etc.,

Storing Integer Numbers

Integer numbers can be stored in either of these types-

  1. char
  2. short
  3. int
  4. long
  5. long long

These different types are meant for storing integral numbers. Why are they so many? The answer is that they have different capacities. Some vessels are small, and some are large. A small cup can store water, but water can also be stored in a water tank. It's about the capacity. If I have to store a small numeric such as 20, then all of the above will be able to store it. But the best fit among them is "char" because it is of just the right capacity. There would be no wastage bytes. The storage would be used optimally.

Each of the types described above has an increasing memory size. They need an increasing allocation from the compiler, just like with vessels, as the capacity increases, the vessel size increases as well. A char occupies just one byte, a short occupies 2, and the other ones occupy even more bytes.

Storing Floating Point Numbers

Floating point numbers can be stored in

  1. float
  2. double

A float can store numbers upto six decimal places, and the double is for the higher precision.

Storing Single Characters of Text

Single characters can be stored in a char type.

char k = 'A' ;

Now you would wonder how is it that the char can be used to store numbers also, and single characters of text? The answer is that as far as the compiler is concerned, single characters of text are ASCII numbers for it. Single characters of text are human readable english alphabets, but internally the compiler stores them as numbers. There is no difference between a single character and a number. A char can handle 256 single characters which include punctuation marks, digits, and some greek characters also.

Strings and Single Characters

A string is a series of characters. A string could contain just one character. It could contain thousands of characters also. A string is always written inside double quotes.

string s = "Hoven Trainings" ;

On the other hand, a character is just a single character that's written inside a single quotes.

Strings, Single Characters and numbers

The following code should clarify it all-

char k = '6'; // it is a character, or ASCII number 54

string s = "6"; // it is a string of one character

int m = 6; // it is a number
A number is never written inside double quotes. It becomes a string in that case and numeric calculations cannot be done.

The sizeof Operator

The sizeof operator can be used to determine the memory allocated to a data type or a variable by your compiler.

USAGE: sizeof(char)

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This Blog Post/Article "Data Types in C" by Parveen (Hoven) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Updated on 2020-02-07. Published on: 2015-10-05