PRINTF Formated Output Function (CStyle)
Section: Input/Ouput Functions
Usage
Prints values to the output. The general syntax for its use isprintf(format,a1,a2,...)
Here format
is the format string, which is a string that
controls the format of the output. The values of the variables
a_i
are substituted into the output as required. It is
an error if there are not enough variables to satisfy the format
string. Note that this printf
command is not vectorized! Each
variable must be a scalar.
It is important to point out that the printf
function does not
add a newline (or carriage return) to the output by default. That
can lead to some confusing behavior if you do not know what to expect.
For example, the command printf('Hello')
does not appear to
produce any output. In fact, it does produce the text, but it then
gets overwritten by the prompt. To see the text, you need
printf('Hello\n')
. This seems odd, but allows you to assemble a
line using multiple printf
commands, including the '\n'
when
you are done with the line. You can also use the '\r'
character
as an explicit carriage return (with no line feed). This allows you
to write to the same line many times (to show a progress string, for
example).
Format of the format string
The format string is a character string, beginning and ending in its initial shift state, if any. The format string is composed of zero or more directives: ordinary characters (not %), which are copied unchanged to the output stream; and conversion specifications, each of which results in fetching zero or more subsequent arguments. Each conversion specification is introduced by the character %, and ends with a conversion specifier. In between there may be (in this order) zero or more flags, an optional minimum field width, and an optional precision. The arguments must correspond properly (after type promotion) with the conversion specifier, and are used in the order given.The flag characters
The character%
is followed by zero or more of the following flags:

\#
The value should be converted to an ``alternate form''. Foro
conversions, the first character of the output string is made zero (by prefixing a0
if it was not zero already). Forx
andX
conversions, a nonzero result has the string'0x'
(or'0X'
forX
conversions) prepended to it. Fora, A, e, E, f, F, g,
andG
conversions, the result will always contain a decimal point, even if no digits follow it (normally, a decimal point appears in the results of those conversions only if a digit follows). Forg
andG
conversions, trailing zeros are not removed from the result as they would otherwise be. For other conversions, the result is undefined. 
0
The value should be zero padded. Ford, i, o, u, x, X, a, A, e, E, f, F, g,
andG
conversions, the converted value is padded on the left with zeros rather than blanks. If the0
and
flags both appear, the0
flag is ignored. If a precision is given with a numeric conversion(d, i, o, u, x, and X)
, the0
flag is ignored. For other conversions, the behavior is undefined. 

The converted value is to be left adjusted on the field boundary. (The default is right justification.) Except forn
conversions, the converted value is padded on the right with blanks, rather than on the left with blanks or zeros. A
overrides a0
if both are given. 
' '
(a space) A blank should be left before a positive number (or empty string) produced by a signed conversion. 
+
A sign (+
or
) always be placed before a number produced by a signed conversion. By default a sign is used only for negative numbers. A+
overrides a space if both are used.
The field width
An optional decimal digit string (with nonzero first digit) specifying a minimum field width. If the converted value has fewer characters than the field width, it will be padded with spaces on the left (or right, if the leftadjustment flag has been given). A negative field width is taken as a''
flag followed by a positive field width. In no case does
a nonexistent or small field width cause truncation of a field; if the
result of a conversion is wider than the field width, the field is
expanded to contain the conversion result.
The precision
An optional precision, in the form of a period ('.'
) followed by an optional decimal digit string. If the precision is given as just '.'
, or the precision is negative, the precision is taken to be zero. This gives the minimum number of digits to appear for d, i, o, u, x
, and X
conversions, the number of digits to appear after the radix character for a, A, e, E, f
, and F
conversions, the maximum number of significant digits for g
and G
conversions, or the maximum number of characters to be printed from a string for s conversions.
The conversion specifier
A character that specifies the type of conversion to be applied. The conversion specifiers and their meanings are:
d,i
The int argument is converted to signed decimal notation. The precision, if any, gives the minimum number of digits that must appear; if the converted value requires fewer digits, it is padded on the left with zeros. The default precision is1
. When0
is printed with an explicit precision0
, the output is empty. 
o,u,x,X
The unsigned int argument is converted to unsigned octal (o
), unsigned decimal (u
), or unsigned hexadecimal (x
andX
) notation. The lettersabcdef
are used forx
conversions; the lettersABCDEF
are used forX
conversions. The precision, if any, gives the minimum number of digits that must appear; if the converted value requires fewer digits, it is padded on the left with zeros. The default precision is1
. When0
is printed with an explicit precision0
, the output is empty. 
e,E
The double argument is rounded and converted in the style[]d.ddde dd
where there is one digit before the decimalpoint character and the number of digits after it is equal to the precision; if the precision is missing, it is taken as6
; if the precision is zero, no decimalpoint character appears. AnE
conversion uses the letterE
(rather thane
) to introduce the exponent. The exponent always contains at least two digits; if the value is zero, the exponent is00
. 
f,F
The double argument is rounded and converted to decimal notation in the style[]ddd.ddd
, where the number of digits after the decimalpoint character is equal to the precision specification. If the precision is missing, it is taken as6
; if the precision is explicitly zero, no decimalpoint character appears. If a decimal point appears, at least one digit appears before it. 
g,G
The double argument is converted in stylef
ore
(orF
orE
forG
conversions). The precision specifies the number of significant digits. If the precision is missing,6
digits are given; if the precision is zero, it is treated as1
. Style e is used if the exponent from its conversion is less than4
or greater than or equal to the precision. Trailing zeros are removed from the fractional part of the result; a decimal point appears only if it is followed by at least one digit. 
c
The int argument is converted to an unsigned char, and the resulting character is written. 
s
The string argument is printed. 
%
A'%'
is written. No argument is converted. The complete conversion specification is'%%'
.
Example
Here are some examples of the use ofprintf
with various arguments. First we print out an integer and double value.
> printf('intvalue is %d, floatvalue is %f\n',3,1.53); intvalue is 3, floatvalue is 1.530000
Next, we print out a string value.
> printf('string value is %s\n','hello'); string value is hello
Now, we print out an integer using 12 digits, zeros up front.
> printf('integer padded is %012d\n',32); integer padded is 000000000032
Print out a double precision value with a sign, a total of 18 characters (zero prepended if necessary), a decimal point, and 12 digit precision.
> printf('float value is %+018.12f\n',pi); float value is +0003.141592653590