C++ For Beginners: An Introduction To Escape Sequences

Escape sequences are special characters used in control strings to modify the format of the output. These specific characters are translated into another character or a sequence of characters that may be difficult to represent directly. For example, if you want to put a line break in the output of a C++ statement then you will use the “\n” character which is an escape sequence itself.

An escape sequence consists of two or more characters. For all sequences, the first character will be ”\” i.e. backslash. The other characters determine the interpretation of the escape sequence. For example, “n” of “\n” tells the cursor to move to the next line.

New Line (\n):

When a new line is necessary for the output, then this escape sequence is used. For example:

cout<<”COMPUTER\nSCIENCE”;

First of all, “COMPUTER” is printed and”\n” shifts the cursor to the next line. Then “SCIENCE” is printed on the second line. A screenshot of the output is shown below:

C++ New Line (\n)
C++ New Line (\n)

Tab (\t):

A TAB is equal to eight spaces. Whenever the TAB button is pressed from the keyboard, then 8 spaces are left blank. This escape sequence performs the functionality of the TAB key in the output stream. The code given below will insert a TAB between two words.

cout<<”COMPUTER\tSCIENCE”;
C++ Tab (\t)
C++ Tab (\t)

As you can see after printing “COMPUTER”, 8 spaces are left blank, and then “SCIENCE” is printed on the screen.

Alert Bell (\a):

This escape sequence is used to play beep during execution. For example:

cout<<”COMPUTER\aSCIENCE”;

First of all, “COMPUTER” is printed then a beep is played and after that “SCIENCE” is printed.

Backspace (\b):

Whenever we want to delete a single character, we press the button “backspace” from our keyboard. The same functionality can be achieved in C++ output with this escape sequence. For example:

cout<<”COMPUTER\bSCIENCE”;
C++ Backspace (\b)
C++ Backspace (\b)

First of all, “COMPUTER” is printed and after that “\b” comes which deletes the last character i.e. “R”. After that, “SCIENCE” is printed.

Single Quote (\’):

To insert a single quote in the output, this escape sequence is used. Look at the code written below:

cout<<”\’COMPUTER SCIENCE\’”;

This code prints single quotes at the start and end of the string.

C++ Double Quote (\”)
C++ Double Quote (\”)

Carriage Return (\r):

This escape sequence moves the cursor at the beginning of the current line. For example:

cout<<”COMPUTER\rSCIENCE”;

First of all, “COMPUTER” is printed and after that “\r” comes which moves the cursor at the beginning of the line and “SCIENCE” is printed which overwrites the word written before.

Carriage Return (\r)
Carriage Return (\r)

Form Feed (\f)

This escape sequence is used in printing. It is used to insert blank paper into the printed output. For example:

cout<<”COMPUTER\fSCIENCE”;

After printing “COMPUTER”, the computer will include a blank paper and then print “SCIENCE”.

Conclusion

This article helped us understand some of the important escape sequences in C++. This is the kind of information a C++ beginner is expected to understand and know.

2 Comments

  1. I found this post very wonderful. Couldn’t be a better post than this about C++. Have explained everything with your very best. thanks for sharing.

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