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Escape Sequence in C

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The escape sequence in C is the characters or the sequence of characters that can be used inside the string literal. The purpose of the escape sequence is to represent the characters that cannot be used normally using the keyboard. Some escape sequence characters are the part of ASCII charset but some are not.

Different escape sequences represent different characters but the output is dependent on the compiler you are using.

Escape Sequence List

The table below lists some common escape sequences in C language.

Escape SequenceNameDescription
\aAlarm or BeepIt is used to generate a bell sound in the C program.
\bBackspaceIt is used to move the cursor one place backward.
\fForm FeedIt is used to move the cursor to the start of the next logical page.
\nNew LineIt moves the cursor to the start of the next line.
\rCarriage ReturnIt moves the cursor to the start of the current line.
\tHorizontal TabIt inserts some whitespace to the left of the cursor and moves the cursor accordingly.
\vVertical TabIt is used to insert vertical space.
\\BacklashUse to insert backslash character.
\’Single QuoteIt is used to display a single quotation mark.
\”Double QuoteIt is used to display double quotation marks.
\?Question MarkIt is used to display a question mark.
\oooOctal NumberIt is used to represent an octal number.
\xhhHexadecimal NumberIt represents the hexadecimal number.
\0NULLIt represents the NULL character.
\eEscape sequenceIt represents the ASCII escape character.
\sSpace CharacterIt represents the ASCII space character.
\dDelete CharacterIt represents the ASCII DEL character.

Out of all these escape sequences, \n and \0 are used the most. In fact, escape sequences like \f, \a,  are not even used by programmers nowadays.

Escape Sequence in C Examples

The following are the escape sequence examples that demonstrate how to use different escape sequences in C language.

1. Example to demonstrate how to use \a escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate  \a escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // output may depend upon the compiler
    printf("My mobile number "
           "is 7\a8\a7\a3\a9\a2\a3\a4\a0\a8\a");
    return (0);
}

                    

Output
My mobile number is 7873923408

2. Example to demonstrate how to use \b escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate  \b escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // \b - backspace character transfers
    // the cursor one character back with
    // or without deleting on different
    // compilers.
    printf("Hello \b\b\b\b\b\bHi Geeks");
    return (0);
}

                    


Output

Hi Geeks

3. Example to demonstrate how to use \n escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \n escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
int main(void)
{
    // Here we are using \n, which is a new line character.
    printf("Hello\n");
    printf("GeeksforGeeks");
    return (0);
}

                    

Output
Hello
GeeksforGeeks

4. Example to demonstrate how to use \t escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \t escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // Here we are using \t, which is
    // a horizontal tab character.
    // It will provide a tab space
    // between two words.
    printf("Hello \t GFG");
    return (0);
}

                    

Output
Hello      GFG

The escape sequence “\t” is very frequently used in loop-based pattern printing programs.

5. Example to demonstrate how to use \v escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \v escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // Here we are using \v, which
    // is vertical tab character.
    printf("Hello friends\v");
 
    printf("Welcome to GFG");
 
    return (0);
}

                    


Output

Hello friends
                       Welcome to GFG

6. Example to demonstrate how to use \r escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \r escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // Here we are using \r, which
    // is carriage return character.
    printf("Hello   Geeks \rGeeksfor");
    return (0);
}

                    


Output

GeeksforGeeks

7. Example to demonstrate how to use \\ escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \\(Backslash)
// escape sequence to print backslash.
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // Here we are using \,
    // It contains two escape sequence
    // means \ and \n.
    printf("Hello\\GFG");
    return (0);
}

                    

Output
Hello\GFG

Explanation: It contains two escape sequence means it after printing the \ the compiler read the next \ as a newline character i.e. \n, which print the GFG in the next line.

8. Example to demonstrate how to use \’ and \” escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \' escape
// sequence/ and \" escape sequence to
// print single quote and double quote.
#include <stdio.h>
int main(void)
{
    printf("\' Hello Geeks\n");
    printf("\" Hello Geeks");
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
' Hello Geeks
" Hello Geeks

9. Example to demonstrate how to use \? escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate
// \? escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // Here we are using \?, which is
    // used for the presentation of trigraph
    // in the early of C programming. But
    // now we don't have any use of it.
    printf("\?\?!\n");
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
??!

10. Example to demonstrate how to use \ooo escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \OOO escape sequence
#include <stdio.h>
 
int main(void)
{
    // we are using \OOO escape sequence, here
    // each O in "OOO" is one to three octal
    // digits(0....7).
    char* s = "A\072\065";
    printf("%s", s);
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
A:5

Explanation: Here 000 is one to three octal digits(0….7) means there must be at least one octal digit after \ and a maximum of three. Here 072 is the octal notation, first, it is converted to decimal notation which is the ASCII value of char ‘:’. At the place of \072, there is: and the output is A:5.

11. Example to demonstrate how to use \xhh escape sequence in C

C

// C program to illustrate \XHH escape
// sequence
#include <stdio.h>
int main(void)
{
    // We are using \xhh escape sequence.
    // Here hh is one or more hexadecimal
    // digits(0....9, a...f, A...F).
    char* s = "B\x4a";
    printf("%s", s);
    return 0;
}

                    

Output
BJ

Explanation: Here hh is one or more hexadecimal digits(0….9, a…f, A…F). There can be more than one hexadecimal number after \x. Here, ‘\x4a’ is a hexadecimal number and it is a single char. Firstly it will get converted into decimal notation and it is the ASCII value of the char ‘J’. Therefore at the place of \x4a, we can write J. So the output is BJ. 



Last Updated : 30 Jan, 2024
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