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comp.lang.c FAQ list · Question 8.8

Q: I'm reading strings typed by the user into an array, and then printing them out later. When the user types a sequence like \n, why isn't it being handled properly?

A: Character sequences like \n are interpreted at compile time. When a backslash and an adjacent n appear in a character constant or string literal, they are translated immediately into a single newline character. (Analogous translations occur, of course, for the other character escape sequences.) When you're reading strings from the user or a file, however, no interpretation like this is performed: a backslash is read and printed just like any other character, with no particular interpretation.

(Some interpretation of the newline character may be done during run-time I/O, but for a completely different reason; see question 12.40.)

See also question 12.6.

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