How Do You Write a Data Structure in C?


Scott Campbell

Writing a data structure in C is an essential skill for any programmer. Data structures allow us to organize and manipulate data in an efficient manner. In this tutorial, we will explore the steps to create a data structure in C, including defining the structure, implementing various operations, and utilizing the data structure in our code.

Defining the Structure

Firstly, let’s discuss how to define a data structure in C. In C, we can use the struct keyword to create our own custom data types. A struct allows us to group different variables of different types into a single unit.

To define a struct, we need to specify its name and list its member variables inside curly braces. Each member variable is declared with its respective type.

struct MyDataStructure {
    int id;
    char name[50];
    float score;

In the above example, we defined a struct named MyDataStructure that contains three member variables: an integer id, a character array name, and a floating-point number score.

Implementing Operations on Data Structures

To make our data structure useful, we need to implement various operations on it. Let’s consider some common operations like initializing the structure, accessing members, modifying members, and printing the values of members.

Initializing the Structure:

To initialize the structure with default values or user-provided values, we can use either direct assignment or function calls.

// Direct Assignment
struct MyDataStructure ds1 = {1, "John", 85.5};

// Function Calls
struct MyDataStructure ds2; = 2;
strcpy(, "Jane");
ds2.score = 90.5;

Accessing Members:

We can access the members of a structure using the dot operator (.) followed by the member name.

printf("ID: %d\n",;
printf("Name: %s\n",;
printf("Score: %.2f\n", ds1.score);

Modifying Members:

To modify a member of a structure, we can directly assign a new value to it using the assignment operator (=).

ds1.score = 95.0;

Printing Structure:

To print the values of all members of a structure, we can use printf statements.

printf("ID: %d\nName: %s\nScore:,, ds1.score);

Utilizing Data Structures in Code

Once we have defined our data structure and implemented various operations on it, we can utilize it in our code to store and manipulate related data efficiently.

  • Create variables of our custom data structure type.
  • Initialize them with default or user-provided values.
  • Perform operations on them to modify or access their members.
  • Utilize the structured data in our algorithms or programs as needed.

Data structures provide an organized and efficient way to manage data in programming. By utilizing custom data structures, we can improve the performance of our code and make it more manageable. Understanding how to write a data structure in C is fundamental to becoming a skilled programmer.


In this tutorial, we covered the process of writing a data structure in C. We learned how to define a structure using the struct keyword, implement operations on it, and utilize it in our code. By incorporating these techniques into our programming skills, we can handle complex data more efficiently and write optimized algorithms.

Now that you have a solid understanding of creating data structures in C, you can apply this knowledge to build more advanced programs that require efficient data organization and manipulation.

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