• C Program to Demonstrate the Use of Structures with Pointers

    Welcome to this comprehensive blog post where we will dive into the world of C programming and explore how structures and pointers can be combined to create powerful and efficient programs. Whether you are new to the concept or already familiar, this post will provide valuable insights and practical examples to enhance your understanding and skills. So let’s get started!


    Structures, also known as structs, are user-defined data types in C that allow you to combine different types of variables under a single name. They provide a convenient way to organize related data and represent complex objects in a program. On the other hand, pointers are variables that store memory addresses, enabling efficient memory management and manipulation. By using structures with pointers, we can create dynamic data structures and efficiently access and modify their elements.

    In this blog post, we will explore how to define and initialize structures, how to access their members using pointers, and how to dynamically allocate memory for structures using pointers. We will also discuss the advantages and best practices of using structures with pointers, and provide practical examples to reinforce the concepts.

    Defining Structures and Pointers

    To understand how structures and pointers can be used together, let’s first define a simple structure and a pointer to that structure. Consider the following example:

    #include <stdio.h>
    struct Employee {
        int employeeID;
        char name[50];
        float salary;
    int main() {
        struct Employee emp1; // Structure variable
        struct Employee *ptrEmp; // Pointer to a structure
        ptrEmp = &emp1; // Assigning address of emp1 to ptrEmp
        // Accessing structure members using dot operator
        emp1.employeeID = 123456;
        strcpy(emp1.name, "John Doe");
        emp1.salary = 5000.0;
        // Accessing structure members using pointer and arrow operator
        ptrEmp->employeeID = 654321;
        strcpy(ptrEmp->name, "Jane Smith");
        ptrEmp->salary = 6000.0;
        // Printing structure members
        printf("Employee ID: %d\n", emp1.employeeID);
        printf("Name: %s\n", emp1.name);
        printf("Salary: $%.2f\n", emp1.salary);
        return 0;

    In the above example, we define a structure named Employee that contains three members: employeeID of type int, name of type char (array), and salary of type float. We then declare a structure variable emp1 and a pointer ptrEmp to the Employee structure.

    To access the structure members, we use the dot operator (.) when using the structure variable directly and the arrow operator (->) when using the pointer to the structure. The arrow operator is used to dereference the pointer and access the structure members.

    In the main() function, we assign the address of emp1 to ptrEmp using the address-of operator (&). This allows us to access and modify the structure members using the pointer.

    Using Pointers to Manipulate Structure Data

    To illustrate the use of structures with pointers, let’s consider a practical example. Suppose we need to create a program to store information about students such as their name, age, and grade. Without further ado, let’s jump into the code!

    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>
    struct Student {
        char name[50];
        int age;
        float grade;
    int main() {
        struct Student *studentPtr, student;
        studentPtr = &student;
        printf("Enter student's name: ");
        scanf("%s", studentPtr->name);
        printf("Enter student's age: ");
        scanf("%d", &studentPtr->age);
        printf("Enter student's grade: ");
        scanf("%f", &studentPtr->grade);
        printf("\nStudent Details:\n");
        printf("Name: %s\n", studentPtr->name);
        printf("Age: %d\n", studentPtr->age);
        printf("Grade: %f\n", studentPtr->grade);
        return 0;

    In this example, we define a structure called Student that contains three members: name, age, and grade. To demonstrate the use of pointers, we create a pointer variable studentPtr of type struct Student and a structure variable student.

    We then assign the address of student to studentPtr using the assignment operator (=) and the address-of operator (&). This allows us to access the structure members directly using the arrow operator (->) instead of the dot operator (.), common when working with pointers.

    Next, we prompt the user to enter the student’s name, age, and grade using the scanf function. Note that we pass the address of each structure member using the & operator for age and grade, but we can directly access name using the arrow operator.

    Finally, we display the entered details of the student using the printf function. Notice how we use the arrow operator again to access the structure members. This way, we can manipulate the structure’s data using pointers effectively.

    Accessing Structure Members with Pointers

    Using pointers with structures provides flexibility and efficiency in accessing and manipulating structure members. Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

    Example 1: Passing Structure to a Function

    One of the advantages of using pointers with structures is that we can pass a structure to a function using a pointer, which avoids unnecessary memory copy and improves performance. Consider the following example:

    #include <stdio.h>
    struct Point {
        int x;
        int y;
    void printPoint(struct Point *p) {
        printf("Coordinates: (%d, %d)\n", p->x, p->y);
    int main() {
        struct Point p1 = {5, 10};
        return 0;

    In the above example, we define a structure Point that represents a point in a 2D coordinate system. The printPoint() function takes a pointer to a Point structure and prints its coordinates. In the main() function, we create a Point structure p1 with coordinates (5, 10), and pass its address to the printPoint() function using the & operator. The function then accesses the structure members using the arrow operator -> and prints the coordinates.

    Example 2: Dynamic Memory Allocation

    Another powerful feature of structures with pointers is the ability to dynamically allocate memory for structures. This allows us to create structures of variable size at runtime and manage memory efficiently. Consider the following example:

    #include <stdio.h>
    #include <stdlib.h>
    struct Rectangle {
        int width;
        int height;
    struct Rectangle *createRectangle(int width, int height) {
        struct Rectangle *r = (struct Rectangle *)malloc(sizeof(struct Rectangle));
        if (r != NULL) {
            r->width = width;
            r->height = height;
        return r;
    int main() {
        struct Rectangle *rect1, *rect2;
        rect1 = createRectangle(5, 10);
        rect2 = createRectangle(7, 15);
        if (rect1 != NULL) {
            printf("Rectangle 1: %d x %d\n", rect1->width, rect1->height);
        if (rect2 != NULL) {
            printf("Rectangle 2: %d x %d\n", rect2->width, rect2->height);
        return 0;

    In the above example, we define a structure Rectangle that represents a rectangle with width and height. The createRectangle() function dynamically allocates memory for a Rectangle structure using the malloc() function and assigns the width and height values. It returns a pointer to the allocated memory.

    In the main() function, we create two Rectangle structures rect1 and rect2 using the createRectangle() function. We then check if the allocation was successful (r != NULL), access and print the structure members using the arrow operator ->, and release the allocated memory using the free() function to avoid memory leaks.

    Example 3: Array of Structures

    Structures with pointers also allow us to create arrays of structures, providing a convenient way to store and manipulate a collection of related data. Consider the following example:

    #include <stdio.h>
    struct Student {
        int rollNumber;
        char name[50];
        float marks;
    void printStudent(struct Student *s, int size) {
        int i;
        for (i = 0; i < size; i++) {
            printf("Student %d:\n", i+1);
            printf("Roll Number: %d\n", (s+i)->rollNumber);
            printf("Name: %s\n", (s+i)->name);
            printf("Marks: %.2f\n", (s+i)->marks);
    int main() {
        struct Student students[3] = {
            {1, "John Doe", 85.5},
            {2, "Jane Smith", 92.0},
            {3, "David Johnson", 78.75}
        printStudent(students, 3);
        return 0;

    In this example, we define a structure Student that represents a student with a roll number, name, and marks. We then create an array of Student structures students containing three elements, each initialized with specific values.

    The printStudent() function takes a pointer to a Student structure and the size of the array, and iterates over the array using pointer arithmetic. It accesses and prints the elements’ members using the arrow operator ->. In the main() function, we pass the students array and its size to the printStudent() function to print the details of all students.

    Advantages of Using Structures with Pointers

    Using structures with pointers in C programming offers several advantages:

    • Efficiency: When dealing with complex data structures, using pointers allows us to avoid memory overhead and improve performance, as we can directly manipulate the data in memory without making extra copies.

    • Passing by Reference: By passing structures to functions using pointers, we can modify their contents directly, as opposed to passing them by value, which would only create a copy. This is particularly useful when working with large structures.

    • Dynamic Memory Allocation: Structures with pointers allow us to allocate memory dynamically, enabling us to create structures of variable size at runtime and effectively manage memory resources.

    • Array Manipulation: Using pointers with structures allows us to create arrays of structures, enabling us to store and manipulate collections of related data conveniently.

    • Flexibility: Structures with pointers provide flexibility in accessing and modifying structure members. With pointers, we can easily navigate through complex nested structures and access members at different levels.

    Tips for Working with Structures and Pointers

    Now that we understand the benefits and implementation of structures with pointers, let’s explore some tips to enhance our programming experience.

    1. Always Initialize Pointers

    When working with pointers, it is crucial to initialize them before accessing or assigning any values. Uninitialized pointers can lead to undefined behavior and unexpected program crashes. Initializing pointers can be as simple as assigning NULL to them.

    2. Memory Deallocation

    If you are dynamically allocating memory using functions like malloc, always remember to release the memory once you are done using it. Failure to do so may lead to memory leaks, resource hogging, and program crashes.

    3. Error Handling

    When working with pointers, it is essential to handle error conditions gracefully. Functions like malloc can fail to allocate memory if the system is out of memory. Always check the return value of such functions and handle any errors to prevent unexpected program termination.

    4. Pointer Arithmetic

    Pointer arithmetic is a powerful feature in C, but it should be used with caution. Make sure to understand the size and type of data pointers are pointing to. Incorrect usage of pointer arithmetic can lead to memory access violations or undefined behavior.


    In this blog post, we have explored the incredible benefits and implementation of structures with pointers in C programming. By utilizing structures, we can organize complex data efficiently, while pointers empower us to manipulate this data effectively.

    We have looked at a practical example that demonstrates how to create a program to store student information using structures and pointers. Additionally, we have discussed the advantages of using pointers with structures, including efficient memory utilization, dynamic memory allocation, and enhanced program performance.

    Furthermore, We’ve shared tips for working with structures and pointers, like initializing pointers, deallocating memory, error handling, and cautious pointer arithmetic.

    You can enhance your programming skills with structures and pointers for more powerful coding. Happy coding!