Strings in C can span multiple lines

I came across a multi-line string while doing an inspection on a colleagues C code. I’ve never seen this sort of thing before, and didn’t know it was possible.

Something like this:

    char* welcomeMessage = "Hello "
                           "Dale. "
                           "How are you?";

    printf("%s", welcomeMessage);

will happily print out “Hello Dale. How are you?”.

It seems that you can define a string literal in C across multiple lines, without any need for a concatenation character (like ‘+’ in Java and C#).

I like that, even though I’ve been writing C for years now, I still occasionally come across little bits and pieces in the language that are new to me. And doing code inspections and reviews of other people’s code are a good way to share this sort of stuff and learn from each other.

14 Responses to “Strings in C can span multiple lines”

  1. Peter says:

    I just happened to find this out on your site via Google πŸ˜‰

    Yes, I’m too used to other languages which you concatenate string with +


  2. Etienne says:

    also found the link on google πŸ˜›

    You could do something like that

    char* welcomeMessage = “Hello \
    Dale. \
    How are you?”;

    printf(“%s”, welcomeMessage);

  3. Paul says:

    Yeah, but Etienne, you can’t use backslashes while maintaining pretty (and arguably more readable) indentation.

  4. Scott says:

    Just stumbled across this on Google. I’d never seen this anywhere either; thanks for posting!

  5. Mankku says:

    Indeed, happened to stumble across this while Googling. Seems to compile fine, hope it works in practice too! Thanks for the hint! *thumbsup*

    // Mankku

  6. Super! Works great in visual studio.

  7. Doug says:

    Stumbled across this. I’d be interested in knowing if you can write multiple lines to a file inside a single fprintf statement without using the \n command. For example, I have a bunch of text that needs to be sent verbatim to a file, but I don’t want to have to input fprintf(file,”line\nline\nline\n”); I’d rather do a command to the effect of:
    Is there a way to do this? If so, I could simply copy and paste the file data into the code and it would write a file with the exact same data. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance.


  8. Praveen says:

    Thank you for posting it. My code looks co much more prettier now! πŸ™‚

  9. Ryan says:

    Thanks for the Tip, it helped me with my Beginner Obj-C!

  10. James says:

    thanks for posting I too came across this whilst Googleing and as i had to write a report on it i researched a bit more, my time was limited but some further reading would be pointers and arrays, it seems that you have created one or the other using char* hope this helps

  11. James jong says:

    This will forever be immortalised by being #1 search result for c multi line strings, increasing readability of code for the infinite future. Thank you.

  12. Chuck says:

    I also google searched, because I have 80 char requirement width for my source. Nice!

  13. Ivaylo Tsanov says:

    Instead of
    char* welcomeMessage = “Hello ”
    “Dale. ”
    “How are you?”;

    printf(“%s”, welcomeMessage);

    In C you can just write:

    printf(“Hello ”
    “Dale. ”
    “How are you?”);


  14. Matt says:

    Also found via Google search! Thanks a lot. New to C.