What Is Linked List Header in Data Structure?


Heather Bennett

A linked list header is a concept in data structure that is used to store information about the linked list itself. It is an additional node that is added at the beginning of the linked list and contains metadata about the list. This header node is not a part of the actual data elements in the list, but it helps in managing and manipulating the linked list efficiently.

Why Use a Linked List Header?

Using a linked list header provides several benefits:

  • Easy traversal: The header node acts as the starting point for traversing the linked list. It eliminates the need to keep track of the first node separately.
  • Efficient insertion and deletion: The header node simplifies insertion and deletion operations, as it serves as a placeholder for adding new nodes or removing existing ones.
  • Information storage: The header node can store important information about the linked list, such as its length or any other metadata required for efficient operations.

Structure of a Linked List Header

A typical linked list header consists of two main components: a pointer to the first node of the linked list and metadata about the list itself.

The pointer, often referred to as ‘first’, points to the first actual data element in the linked list. It allows easy traversal through subsequent nodes by following their ‘next’ pointers.

The metadata stored in the header can include information like:

  • List length: The number of elements present in the linked list.
  • List type: The type of elements stored in the linked list (e.g., integers, strings, objects).
  • List properties: Additional properties specific to the linked list implementation, such as whether it is sorted or unsorted.

Example of a Linked List Header

Let’s consider an example of a singly linked list header in C++:

struct Node {
    int data;
    struct Node* next;

struct LinkedList {
    struct Node* header;

In this example, the ‘header’ member of the ‘LinkedList’ structure points to the first node of the linked list. It allows easy access to all the elements and facilitates efficient operations on the linked list.


A linked list header is an additional node inserted at the beginning of a linked list. It provides essential metadata about the linked list and simplifies various operations. By using a linked list header, traversal, insertion, and deletion become more efficient, making it a valuable concept in data structure implementations.

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