Enumerated Data Type in C

In C programming, enumerated data types offer a way to define a set of named constants, making the code more readable and maintainable. This article aims to provide a clear understanding of enumerated data types in C, their syntax, usage, and benefits.

What are Enumerated Data Types?

Enumerated data types, also known as enums, allow developers to define a custom set of named constants within a program. Here are key points to know about enums:

  • Enums provide a way to create symbolic names for values, enhancing code readability.
  • Enum constants are typically represented by integers, but their association with meaningful names makes the code more understandable.

Enum Syntax and Declaration

To declare an enumerated data type in C, you can follow this syntax:

enum enum_name {
    // additional constants
  • enum_name is the name of the enum.
  • constant1, constant2, constant3, and so on, represent the named constants within the enum.

Assigning Values to Enum Constants

By default, the enum constants are assigned integer values starting from 0, incrementing by 1 for each subsequent constant. However, you can assign custom values to enum constants:

enum enum_name {
    constant1 = value1,
    constant2 = value2,
    constant3 = value3,
    // additional constants
  • value1, value2, value3, and so on, represent the custom values assigned to the enum constants.

Using Enumerated Data Types

Enumerated data types can be utilized in various ways within a C program:

  • Variable Declarations: Enumerated types can be used to declare variables, providing meaningful names to represent specific states or options.
  • Switch Statements: Enums are often used in switch statements to improve code readability, as each case can be associated with a meaningful enum constant.
  • Function Parameters and Return Types: Enumerated types can be employed as function parameters or return types, allowing for more expressive and self-explanatory code.

Benefits of Enumerated Data Types

Using enumerated data types in your C programs offers several advantages:

  • Readability: Enums enhance code readability by providing self-descriptive constant names instead of raw numeric values.
  • Maintainability: Enum constants allow for easier maintenance, as modifications to the enum declaration propagate throughout the codebase.
  • Type Safety: Enumerated types provide type safety by restricting assignments to only valid enum constants.


Enumerated data types in C provide a powerful tool for creating symbolic names for constants, improving code readability and maintainability. By leveraging enums, you can make your code more expressive, self-explanatory, and less error-prone. Understanding the syntax and usage of enumerated data types allows you to harness their benefits in your C programming endeavors, resulting in cleaner and more understandable code.