What Type of Information Is Coded in the Working Storage Section of the Data Division?


Heather Bennett

The Working Storage Section of the Data Division in COBOL is used to define variables and data structures that are needed during the execution of a program. This section holds information that is temporary and is used to hold intermediate or processed data. Let’s explore the different types of information that can be coded in the Working Storage Section.


One of the primary uses of the Working Storage Section is to define variables. Variables are used to store data values that can change during program execution. These variables can be numeric, alphanumeric, or even date-related.

Numeric Variables: Numeric variables in COBOL can hold integer or decimal values. They are declared using a picture clause and can have various formats and sizes depending on the precision required.

Alphanumeric Variables: Alphanumeric variables in COBOL are used to store characters, strings, or a combination of both. They are declared using a picture clause with an appropriate size defined.

Date Variables: Date variables are used to store date values such as year, month, and day. They are typically defined using a picture clause with an appropriate format specified.

Data Structures

In addition to variables, the Working Storage Section allows you to define complex data structures for organizing related data elements. These structures can be defined as records, tables, arrays, or linked lists.


A record is a group of related data fields. It can be compared to a structure in other programming languages. Each field within a record has its own name and data type definition.


A table is an array-like structure where multiple occurrences of related fields are stored together under one name. Tables allow you to access individual elements based on their position or index within the table.


An array is a collection of data elements of the same type. Array elements are accessed using an index value that represents their position within the array. COBOL supports both one-dimensional and multi-dimensional arrays.

Linked Lists

A linked list is a data structure consisting of a sequence of nodes, where each node contains a data field and a reference to the next node in the sequence. Linked lists are useful for representing hierarchical or interconnected data.


In addition to variables and data structures, the Working Storage Section can also be used to define constants. Constants are values that do not change during program execution and are typically used for defining fixed values or thresholds.

Numeric Constants: Numeric constants represent fixed numeric values, such as integers or decimal numbers. They are defined using literals in COBOL code.

Alphanumeric Constants: Alphanumeric constants represent fixed character or string values. They are enclosed in quotes (”) or double quotes (“”) when defined in COBOL code.


The Working Storage Section of the Data Division in COBOL allows you to define variables, data structures, and constants necessary for program execution. By using this section effectively, you can organize your data and ensure smooth processing within your COBOL programs.

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