SCANF(3) BSD Library Functions Manual SCANF(3)NAME
scanf, fscanf, sscanf, vscanf, vsscanf, vfscanf — input format conversion
scanf(const char *format, ...);
fscanf(FILE *stream, const char *format, ...);
sscanf(const char *str, const char *format, ...);
vscanf(const char *format, va_list ap);
vsscanf(const char *str, const char *format, va_list ap);
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 respec‐
tively. 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 char‐
acter. Scanning also stops when an input conversion cannot be made (see
Following the % character introducing a conversion there may be a number
of flag characters, as follows:
* Suppresses assignment. The conversion that follows occurs as
usual, but no pointer is used; the result of the conversion is
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).
L Indicates that the conversion will be efg and the next pointer is
a pointer to long double. (This type is not implemented; the L
flag is currently ignored.)
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 assign‐
ment does not occur.
d Matches an optionally signed decimal integer; the next pointer must
be a pointer to int.
D Equivalent to ld; this exists only for backwards compatibility.
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 oth‐
erwise. Only characters that correspond to the base are used.
o Matches an octal integer; the next pointer must be a pointer to
O Equivalent to lo; this exists for backwards compatibility.
u Matches an optionally signed decimal integer; the next pointer must
be a pointer to unsigned int.
x Matches an optionally signed hexadecimal integer; the next pointer
must be a pointer to unsigned int.
X Equivalent to lx; this violates the ANSI X3.159-1989 (“ANSI C89”),
but is backwards compatible with previous UNIX systems.
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 lf; this violates the ANSI X3.159-1989 (“ANSI C89”),
but is backwards compatible with previous UNIX systems.
F Equivalent to lf; this exists only for backwards compatibility.
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 terminating 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 characters; 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 characters in
(or not in) a particular set; the set is defined by the characters
between the open bracket [ character and a close bracket ] charac‐
ter. 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 character - is also special; when placed between two
other characters, it adds all intervening 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 cir‐
cumflex, 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.
For backwards compatibility, other conversion characters (except ‘\0’)
are taken as if they were ‘%d’ or, if uppercase, ‘%ld’, and a `conver‐
sion' of ‘%\0’ causes an immediate return of EOF. The F and X conver‐
sions will be changed in the future to conform to the ANSI C standard,
after which they will act like f and x respectively.
These functions return the number of input items assigned, which can be
fewer than provided for, or even zero, in the event of a matching fail‐
ure. Zero indicates that, while there was input available, no conver‐
sions 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 conversions which were successfully completed is
SEE ALSOstrtol(3), strtoul(3), strtod(3), getc(3), printf(3)STANDARDS
The functions fscanf(), scanf(), and sscanf() conform to ANSI X3.159-1989
The functions vscanf(), vsscanf() and vfscanf() are new to this release.
The current situation with %F and %X conversions is unfortunate.
All of the backwards compatibility formats will be removed in the future.
Numerical strings are truncated to 512 characters; for example, %f and %d
are implicitly %512f and %512d.
BSD December 11, 1993 BSD