C++ Notes: I/O Manipulators

Manipulators are the most common way to control output formating.

#include <iomanip>

I/O manipulators that take parameters are in the <iomanip> include file.

Default Floating-point Format

Unless you use I/O manipulators (or their equivalent), the default format for each floating-point number depends on its value.

I/O Manipulators

The following output manipulators control the format of the output stream. Include <iomanip> if you use any manipulators that have parameters. The Range column tells how long the manipulator will take effect: now inserts something at that point, next affects only the next data element, and all affects all subsequent data elements for the output stream.
General output
endlnow Write a newline ('\n') and flush buffer.
setw(n)next Sets minimum field width on output. This sets the minimum size of the field - a larger number will use more columns. Applies only to the next element inserted in the output. Use left and right to justify the data appropriately in the field. Output is right justified by default. Equivalent to cout.width(n); To print a column of right justified numbers in a seven column field:
    cout << setw(7) << n << endl;
width(n)next Same as setw(n).
leftnext Left justifies output in field width. Only useful after setw(n).
rightnext Right justifies output in field width. Since this is the default, it is only used to override the effects of left. Only useful after setw(n).
setfill(ch)all Only useful after setw. If a value does not entirely fill a field, the character ch will be used to fill in the other characters. Default value is blank. Same effects as cout.fill(ch) For example, to print a number in a 4 character field with leading zeros (eg, 0007):
    cout << setw(4) << setfill('0') << n << endl;
Floating point output
setprecision(n)all Sets the number of digits printed to the right of the decimal point. This applies to all subsequent floating point numbers written to that output stream. However, this won't make floating-point "integers" print with a decimal point. It's necessary to use fixed for that effect. Equivalent to cout.precision(n);
fixedall Used fixed point notation for floating-point numbers. Opposite of scientific. If no precision has already been specified, it will set the precision to 6.
scientificall Formats floating-point numbers in scientific notation. Opposite of fixed.
bool output
all Uses alphabetic representation (true and false) for bool values. Turned off with noboolalpha.
all For most input values (eg, integers and floating-point numbers), skipping initial whitespace (eg, blanks) is very useful. However, when reading characters, it is often desired to read the whitespace characters as well as the non-spacing characters. The these I/O manipulators can be used to turn whitespace skipping off and on. Eg,
cin >> noskipws;
turns whitespace skipping off for all subseqent cin input.
wsnow Reads and ignores whitespace at the current position.
   showpoint, noshowpoint, uppercase, nouppercase, dec, oct, hex, setbase(8|10|16), showbase, noshowbase, ends, showpos, noshowpos, internal, flush, unitbuf, nounitbuf, setiosflags(f), resetiosflags(f)


#include <iostream>
#include <iomanip>
using namespace std;
int main() {
    const float tenth = 0.1;
    const float one   = 1.0;
    const float big   = 1234567890.0;
    cout << "A. "                    << tenth << ", " << one << ", " << big << endl;
    cout << "B. " << fixed           << tenth << ", " << one << ", " << big << endl;
    cout << "C. " << scientific      << tenth << ", " << one << ", " << big << endl;
    cout << "D. " << fixed << setprecision(3) << tenth << ", " << one << ", " << big << endl;
    cout << "E. " << setprecision(20) << tenth << endl;
    cout << "F. " << setw(8) << setfill('*') << 34 << 45 << endl;
    cout << "G. " << setw(8) << 34 << setw(8) << 45 << endl;
    return 0;
produces this output (using DevC++
A. 0.1, 1, 1.23457e+009
B. 0.100000, 1.000000, 1234567936.000000
C. 1.000000e-001, 1.000000e+000, 1.234568e+009
D. 0.100, 1.000, 1234567936.000
E. 0.1000000014901161
F. ******3445
G. ******34******45
Lines F and G show the scope of setw() and setfill().