Data Types In C++

Data can be of many type e.g. character, integer, real, string etc. Any thing enclosed in single quotes represent character data.

Data type are means to identify the type of data and associated operation of handling it.

C++ data types are of two types:

Fundamental Data type
Derived Data Type

Fundamental Data type

Integer (int):

An integer can contain only digits (numbers) from 0 to 9. Examples of integers are:


It includes positive and negative numbers but the numbers have to be whole numbers.

It does accept the decimal point. Hence the following numbers are not integer data types:


These numbers come under the second category (floating point type) and not under integers.

How to declare a variable as belonging to the type integer? The syntax is:

int variable-name;

In C++ ‘qualifiers’ can be used to vary the range of fundamental data types.

Qualifiers are only supplements to the basic data types and they cannot be used separately on their own.

They work only with a basic (or fundamental) data type.

The 4 qualifiers available in C++ are:


When an integer is specified as signed, then automatically the most significant bit of the number is used as a sign bit (to denote the sign of the number).

Hence it can be used if the programmer needs positive and negative number values for the variable.

By declaring a variable as an integer, by default you can specify both positive and negative values. By default an integer is a signed integer. In other words,

int variable-name;

is the same as

signed int variable-name;

In the second form, ‘signed’ is the qualifier and it is used to explicitly state that the variable is a signed integer.

For an unsigned integer the syntax will be:

unsigned int variable-name;

An unsigned integer can hold a value up to 65,535 (a signed integer can hold only up to 32,767).

Of course, in an unsigned integer you cannot assign a negative value.

The range is from 0 to 65,535. To go beyond 65,535 and make use of both positive and negative values as well, the qualifier long should be used.

long int variable-name;

Long integers occupy 4 bytes of memory (32 bits).

Remember, long int actually means signed long int (you can give positive and negative values).

If you specify

unsigned long int variable-name;

you can only assign positive values to the variable. Thus, two qualifiers can be used together with a basic data type.

What about the ‘short’ qualifier?

Short integer is the same as a signed integer. It occupies two bytes and has the same range of positive and negative values as the normal integer case.

int x;

is usually same as

short int x;

Compilers (depending on the operating system) will assume ‘int’ as a ‘long int’ or a ‘short int’.

Turbo C++ (which is a DOS based compiler) will default to ‘short int’ when you specify a variable as type ‘int’.

Programmers sometimes prefer to explicitly state what type of integer they want to use by making use of the ‘short’ and ‘long’ qualifiers.

‘short int’ always occupies only 2 bytes (irrespective of whether the OS is Windows or DOS) while a ‘long int’ always occupies 4 bytes.

Floating Types (float):

Floating type data include integers as well as numbers with a decimal point. It can also have an exponent. Exponent means 10 to the power of some integer value (whole number). 20000 = 2 x 10^4 = 2e4 = 2E4.

If you specify decimal numbers, floating point data type will store up to a precision of 6 digits after the decimal point.

Suppose 0.1234567 is assigned to a floating-point variable, the actual value stored would be 0.123457 (it will round up to the sixth digit after the decimal place). Valid floating-point numbers are:

2e5(this will be typed in your code as 2e5)

Do not use an exponent with a decimal point.

For example: 2e2.2 is an invalid floating point because the exponent has to be an integer.

Floating point numbers use 4 bytes of memory and has a much greater range than integers because of the use of exponents.

They can have values up to 10^38 (in positive and negative direction). The same qualifiers used for an integer can be applied to floating point numbers as well.

To declare a floating variable, the syntax is:

float variable-name;
Character (char):

A character uses just one byte of memory. It can store any character present on the keyboard (includes alphabets and numbers). It can take numbers from 0 to 9 only. The following are valid characters:


If the number 13 is entered as the value for a character, the program will only store 1 (i.e it will store the first character that it encounters and will discard the rest).

A character is stored in one byte (as a binary number). Thus whatever the user enters is converted into a binary number using some character set to perform this conversion.

Mostly all computers make use of the ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange). For example, according to the ASCII coding, the letter ‘A’ has a decimal value of 65 and the letter ‘a’ has a value of 97.

The syntax to declare a variable which can hold a character is:

char variable-name;

Double (double):

This is similar to the floating-point data type but it has an even greater range extending up to 10308.

The syntax to declare a variable of type double is:

double variable-name;

Boolean Type (bool):

This data type will only accept two values: true or false. In C++, ‘true’ and ‘false’ are keywords.

Actually a value of true corresponds to 1 (or a non-zero value) and a value of false corresponds to 0.


The size of data types given above is a general case. Data type sizes depend on the operating system. So it may vary from system to system.


character or integer 8 bits length.

signed: -128 to 127
unsigned: 0 to 255
integer 16 bits length.
signed: -32768 to 32767
unsigned: 0 to 65535
integer 32 bits length.
signed:-2147483648 to 2147483647
unsigned: 0 to 4294967295

Its length traditionally depends on the length of the system’s Word type, thus in MSDOS it is 16 bits long, whereas in 32 bit systems (like Windows 9x/2000/NT and systems that work under protected mode in x86 systems) it is 32 bits long (4 bytes).

See short, long
floating point number.
3.4e + / – 38 (7 digits)
double precision floating point number.
1.7e + / – 308 (15 digits)
long double
long double precision floating point number.
1.2e + / – 4932 (19 digits)

Boolean value.

It can take one of two values: true or false

Note: this is a type recently added by the ANSI-C++ standard. Not all compilers support it.
true or false

Derived Data Type

From the fundamental type other types can be derived by using the declaration operators. Some of the derived data types are:


Array refers to the named list of finite number n of similar data elements Each of the data elements can be referenced respectively by a set of consecutive numbers, usually 0,1, 2, …. n.

Array can be one dimensional, two dimensional or multi dimensional.

Syntax: int a[10];
int b[10][10];


A function is a named party of the program that can be invoked from other parts of the program as often needed.


Using a function to accept a number and return the cube of the number:

Out put of the program

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