End-of-Line Character(s)


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The C language and the Unix operating system were designed in parallel. For those two environments, an end of line is indicated by a new line character, also known as a line feed character and also known by the escape sequence '\n'. However the line feed character for devices such as printers and dumb terminals just move the print head or cursor down vertically. The carriage return character, also known as the enter key and also known by the escape sequence '\r', moves the print head or cursor horizontally to the beginning of the line.

Therefore to get a new line in such devices requires both a carriage return and a line feed. Therefore Unix's use of just a '\n' is inconsistent with the way most other devices use the character. Most printers have an option to convert just a '\n' to a '\r' and a '\n' but it is a special conversion.

It can be confusing to remember when to use just a '\n' and when to use both a '\r' and a '\n' but just remember that for C and C++ language functions in text mode, probably only a '\n' is necessary. For most Windows functions, both a '\r' and a '\n' (such as a "\r\n") are required.