How to Count Tabs in C

Counting tabs is a common task in C programming, especially when dealing with formatted text or indentations. In this article, we will explore different approaches to count tabs in C, including manual counting, string traversal, and practical examples.

Manual Counting Approach

When you want to count tabs in a given input, manual counting is a straightforward method. Let’s discuss this approach:

  1. Iterate Through the String:
    • Use a loop to traverse each character of the string.
  2. Check for Tabs:
    • Compare each character with the tab character (‘\t’).
    • If a tab is encountered, increment a counter variable.
  3. Example:
int count = 0;
char str[] = "This\tis\ta\tstring\twith\ttabs.";

for (int i = 0; str[i] != '
int count = 0;
char str[] = "This\tis\ta\tstring\twith\ttabs.";
for (int i = 0; str[i] != '\0'; i++) {
if (str[i] == '\t') {
'; i++) { if (str[i] == '\t') { count++; } }

String Traversal Approach

C provides functions to manipulate strings that can be utilized for counting tabs. Let’s explore this approach:

  1. Using strchr() Function:
    • The strchr() function searches for a specific character in a string.
    • Use a loop in combination with strchr() to count tabs.
  2. Example:
int count = 0;
char str[] = "This\tis\ta\tstring\twith\ttabs.";
char* p = str;

while ((p = strchr(p, '\t')) != NULL) {
    p++;  // Move the pointer to the next character

Practical Examples and Use Cases

Counting tabs has various practical applications. Here are a few examples:

  1. Indentation Analysis:
    • Counting tabs to analyze and validate indentation levels in code or text files.
  2. Text Formatting:
    • Counting tabs to ensure proper alignment and formatting in printed or displayed text.

Considerations and Error Handling

When counting tabs, consider the following aspects:

  1. Handling Empty or Null Strings:
    • Account for scenarios where the input string is empty or null to prevent errors.
  2. Multiple Tabs in Sequence:
    • Decide whether to count multiple consecutive tabs as one or separate occurrences, based on the requirements.


Counting tabs in C is a straightforward task that can be accomplished using manual counting or string traversal approaches. By applying the appropriate method, you can accurately count tabs in a given input. Consider the specific requirements of your program and choose the most suitable approach. Experiment with practical examples to enhance your understanding and proficiency in counting tabs in C.

Posted in: C