Is Short Data Type in C?


Larry Thompson

The short data type is a fundamental data type in the C programming language. It is used to store integer values within a specific range. In this article, we will explore the short data type in detail and understand its purpose and limitations.

What is a Short Data Type?

A short data type, as the name suggests, is used to store small integer values. It occupies less memory compared to other integer data types such as int or long. The short data type typically uses 2 bytes (16 bits) of memory, allowing it to represent values ranging from -32,768 to 32,767.

Declaration of Short Variables

To declare a variable of the short data type in C, we use the following syntax:

short variable_name;

For example:

short age;

In this case, the variable “age” is declared as a short.

Usage and Limitations

The short data type is commonly used when memory optimization is crucial. By using shorts instead of ints or longs for variables that do not require large ranges of values, we can reduce memory consumption and improve program efficiency.

However, there are some limitations associated with using shorts:

  • Limited Range: The range of values that can be stored in a short is limited compared to other integer types. If you need to store larger values, you should consider using int or long instead.
  • Promotion: When performing arithmetic operations on shorts, they are automatically promoted to int before the operation takes place.

    This means that if you have two shorts and perform an addition operation on them, the result will be an int.

  • Compatibility: The size of the short data type may vary depending on the platform and compiler used. It is important to consider portability when using shorts in your code.


Let’s explore some examples to better understand the usage of the short data type:

#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
    short temperature = -10;
    printf("Current temperature: %hd\n", temperature);
    short count = 1000;
    printf("Count: %hd\n", count);

    return 0;

In this example, we declare two variables “temperature” and “count” as shorts. We then assign values to them and print their values using the printf function.


The short data type in C is a useful tool for optimizing memory consumption when dealing with small integer values. However, it has limitations in terms of range and automatic promotion during arithmetic operations. Understanding these limitations is crucial for writing efficient and reliable C programs.

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