What Is Fixed Length Record in Data Structure?


Larry Thompson

What Is Fixed Length Record in Data Structure?

In data structures, a fixed length record refers to a type of record where each record is of the same length. This means that every field within the record has a predetermined size, and any unused space is padded with additional characters or bits to maintain the fixed length.

Fixed length records are commonly used in various applications and databases for efficient storage and retrieval of data. Let’s explore more about fixed length records and their significance in data structure.

Structure of a Fixed Length Record

A fixed length record consists of fields that hold specific types of information. Each field has a predefined size, which remains constant across all the records in the dataset.

The fields can store various types of data such as numbers, characters, dates, or even binary data.

To illustrate this concept further, let’s consider an example where we have a dataset containing employee records. Each employee record may consist of fields like employee ID (6 characters), name (30 characters), age (2 digits), designation (20 characters), and salary (8 digits).

In this case, every employee record will have the same structure and occupy the same amount of space.

Benefits of Using Fixed Length Records

Fixed length records offer several advantages in terms of data storage and retrieval:

  • Data Integrity: With fixed length records, it becomes easier to ensure data integrity as each field occupies a specific location within the record. This eliminates any ambiguity or confusion regarding field positions.
  • Efficient Access: Retrieving data from fixed length records is efficient compared to variable-length records since there is no need to process additional metadata or delimiters to determine field boundaries.
  • Simple File Structure: Fixed length records contribute to a simpler file structure as the size of each record remains constant. This simplifies the process of reading and writing data from and to the file.

Considerations for Using Fixed Length Records

While fixed length records offer benefits, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Wasted Space: If some fields within the record have variable lengths, fixed length records may result in wasted space. For example, if a field has a maximum length of 10 characters but most values only require 5 characters, the remaining 5 characters will be unused.
  • Data Modification: Modifying data within fixed length records can be challenging. If a field needs to accommodate larger data than its predefined size, it may require resizing the entire record or splitting the data across multiple records.


Fixed length records provide a structured approach to storing and organizing data in data structures. They ensure uniformity and simplicity while accessing and managing information.

However, it’s essential to consider factors like wasted space and data modification challenges when deciding whether to use fixed length records in specific applications or databases.

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