SCANF(3) Linux Programmer's Manual SCANF(3)
scanf, fscanf, sscanf, vscanf, vsscanf, vfscanf - input format conversion
int scanf(const char *format, ...);
int fscanf(FILE *stream, const char *format, ...);
int sscanf(const char *str, const char *format, ...);
int vscanf(const char *format, va_list ap);
int vsscanf(const char *str, const char *format, va_list ap);
int vfscanf(FILE *stream, const char *format, va_list ap);
The scanf family of functions scans input according to a format as described below. This
format may contain conversion specifiers; the results from such conversions, if any, are
stored through the pointer arguments. The scanf function reads input from the standard
input stream stdin, fscanf reads input from the stream pointer stream, and sscanf reads
its input from the character string pointed to by str.
The vfscanf function is analogous to vfprintf(3) and reads input from the stream pointer
stream using a variable argument list of pointers (see stdarg(3). The vscanf function
scans a variable argument list from the standard input and the vsscanf function scans it
from a string; these are analogous to the vprintf and vsprintf functions respectively.
Each successive pointer argument must correspond properly with each successive conversion
specifier (but see `suppression' below). All conversions are introduced by the % (percent
sign) character. The format string may also contain other characters. White space (such
as blanks, tabs, or newlines) in the format string match any amount of white space,
including none, in the input. Everything else matches only itself. Scanning stops when
an input character does not match such a format character. Scanning also stops when an
input conversion cannot be made (see below).
Following the % character introducing a conversion there may be a number of flag charac-
ters, as follows:
* Suppresses assignment. The conversion that follows occurs as usual, but no pointer
is used; the result of the conversion is simply discarded.
a Indicates that the conversion will be s, the needed memory space for the string
will be malloc'ed and the pointer to it will be assigned to the char pointer vari-
able, which does not have to be initialized before. This flag does not exist in
h Indicates that the conversion will be one of dioux or n and the next pointer is a
pointer to a short int (rather than int).
l Indicates either that the conversion will be one of dioux or n and the next pointer
is a pointer to a long int (rather than int), or that the conversion will be one of
efg and the next pointer is a pointer to double (rather than float). Specifying
two l flags is equivalent to the L flag.
L Indicates that the conversion will be either efg and the next pointer is a pointer
to long double or the conversion will be dioux and the next pointer is a pointer to
long long. (Note that long long is not an ANSI C type. Any program using this will
not be portable to all architectures).
q equivalent to L. This flag does not exist in ANSI C.
In addition to these flags, there may be an optional maximum field width, expressed as a
decimal integer, between the % and the conversion. If no width is given, a default of
`infinity' is used (with one exception, below); otherwise at most this many characters are
scanned in processing the conversion. Before conversion begins, most conversions skip
white space; this white space is not counted against the field width.
The following conversions are available:
% Matches a literal `%'. That is, `%%' in the format string matches a single input
`%' character. No conversion is done, and assignment does not occur.
d Matches an optionally signed decimal integer; the next pointer must be a pointer to
D Equivalent to ld; this exists only for backwards compatibility. (Note: thus only
in libc4. In libc5 and glibc the %D is silently ignored, causing old programs to
i Matches an optionally signed integer; the next pointer must be a pointer to int.
The integer is read in base 16 if it begins with `0x' or `0X', in base 8 if it
begins with `0', and in base 10 otherwise. Only characters that correspond to the
base are used.
o Matches an unsigned octal integer; the next pointer must be a pointer to unsigned
u Matches an unsigned decimal integer; the next pointer must be a pointer to unsigned
x Matches an unsigned hexadecimal integer; the next pointer must be a pointer to
X Equivalent to x
f Matches an optionally signed floating-point number; the next pointer must be a
pointer to float.
e Equivalent to f.
g Equivalent to f.
E Equivalent to f
s Matches a sequence of non-white-space characters; the next pointer must be a
pointer to char, and the array must be large enough to accept all the sequence and
the terminating NUL character. The input string stops at white space or at the
maximum field width, whichever occurs first.
c Matches a sequence of width count characters (default 1); the next pointer must be
a pointer to char, and there must be enough room for all the characters (no termi-
nating NUL is added). The usual skip of leading white space is suppressed. To
skip white space first, use an explicit space in the format.
[ Matches a nonempty sequence of characters from the specified set of accepted char-
acters; the next pointer must be a pointer to char, and there must be enough room
for all the characters in the string, plus a terminating NUL character. The usual
skip of leading white space is suppressed. The string is to be made up of charac-
ters in (or not in) a particular set; the set is defined by the characters between
the open bracket [ character and a close bracket ] character. The set excludes
those characters if the first character after the open bracket is a circumflex ^.
To include a close bracket in the set, make it the first character after the open
bracket or the circumflex; any other position will end the set. The hyphen charac-
ter - is also special; when placed between two other characters, it adds all inter-
vening characters to the set. To include a hyphen, make it the last character
before the final close bracket. For instance, `[^]0-9-]' means the set `everything
except close bracket, zero through nine, and hyphen'. The string ends with the
appearance of a character not in the (or, with a circumflex, in) set or when the
field width runs out.
p Matches a pointer value (as printed by `%p' in printf(3); the next pointer must be
a pointer to void.
n Nothing is expected; instead, the number of characters consumed thus far from the
input is stored through the next pointer, which must be a pointer to int. This is
not a conversion, although it can be suppressed with the * flag. The C standard
says: `Execution of a %n directive does not increment the assignment count returned
at the completion of execution' but the Corrigendum seems to contradict this. Prob-
ably it is wise not to make any assumptions on the effect of %n conversions on the
These functions return the number of input items assigned, which can be fewer than pro-
vided for, or even zero, in the event of a matching failure. Zero indicates that, while
there was input available, no conversions were assigned; typically this is due to an
invalid input character, such as an alphabetic character for a `%d' conversion. The value
EOF is returned if an input failure occurs before any conversion such as an end-of-file
occurs. If an error or end-of-file occurs after conversion has begun, the number of con-
versions which were successfully completed is returned.
strtol(3), strtoul(3), strtod(3), getc(3), printf(3)
The functions fscanf, scanf, and sscanf conform to ANSI X3.159-1989 (``ANSI C'').
The q flag is the BSD 4.4 notation for long long, while ll or the usage of L in integer
conversions is the GNU notation.
The Linux version of these functions is based on the GNU libio library. Take a look at the
info documentation of GNU libc (glibc-1.08) for a more concise description.
All functions are fully ANSI X3.159-1989 conformant, but provide the additional flags q
and a as well as an additional behaviour of the L and l flags. The latter may be consid-
ered to be a bug, as it changes the behaviour of flags defined in ANSI X3.159-1989.
Some combinations of flags defined by ANSI C are not making sense in ANSI C (e.g. %Ld).
While they may have a well-defined behaviour on Linux, this need not to be so on other
architectures. Therefore it usually is better to use flags that are not defined by ANSI C
at all, i.e. use q instead of L in combination with diouxX conversions or ll.
The usage of q is not the same as on BSD 4.4, as it may be used in float conversions
equivalently to L.
LINUX MANPAGE 1995-11-01 SCANF(3)