What Is the Data Type of Pointer in C?


Larry Thompson

What Is the Data Type of Pointer in C?

In the C programming language, a pointer is a variable that holds the memory address of another variable. Pointers are an essential concept in C as they allow you to work with complex data structures and dynamically allocate memory.

Data Type of Pointers

Pointers have their own data type, which specifies the type of data they can point to. The data type of a pointer is determined by the type of the variable it points to. By declaring a pointer variable with the correct data type, you ensure that the pointer points to memory locations that contain compatible data.

To declare a pointer in C, you need to specify its data type using an asterisk (*) symbol. For example:

        int *ptr; // declares a pointer to an integer
        char *chPtr; // declares a pointer to a character
        float *floatPtr; // declares a pointer to a float

The asterisk (*) symbol before the variable name indicates that it is a pointer, while the data type following the asterisk specifies what kind of values it can point to.

Using Pointers with Different Data Types

A key aspect of working with pointers in C is ensuring that you use them correctly with different data types. When manipulating pointers, it’s important to consider their size and alignment requirements based on their associated data types.

You can perform various operations on pointers, such as dereferencing (accessing the value pointed by a pointer) and incrementing/decrementing pointers. However, these operations should be done in accordance with the appropriate data types.

Dereferencing Pointers

To access the value pointed by a pointer, you need to dereference it using the asterisk (*) operator. For example:

        int num = 42;
        int *ptr = # // stores the address of 'num' in 'ptr'
        printf("The value of num is: %d\n", *ptr); // dereferences 'ptr' to get the value of 'num'

In this example, the *ptr expression retrieves the value stored at the memory location pointed by ptr (which is 42 in this case).

Pointer Arithmetic

Pointer arithmetic allows you to perform arithmetic operations on pointers. When adding or subtracting a value from a pointer, the result is scaled based on the size of the data type it points to.

For example, if you have an integer pointer and add 1 to it, the pointer will be incremented by sizeof(int) bytes. Similarly, subtracting 1 from a float pointer will decrement it by sizeof(float) bytes.


In C, pointers have their own data type that specifies what kind of values they can point to. By declaring pointers with the correct data type, you ensure that they are used correctly with different variables and data structures.

Remember to use proper syntax when declaring pointers and keep in mind their size and alignment requirements when performing operations on them. Pointers are powerful tools that can greatly enhance your ability to work with memory and manipulate complex data structures in C.

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