How to Read text File word by word in C

In this article, we are going to learn How to Read text File word by word in C. We will read each word from the text file in each iteration.

C fscanf Function

The fscanf() function is available in the C library. This function is used to read formatted input from a stream. The syntax of the fscanf function is:


int fscanf(FILE *stream, const char *format, ...)

Parameters :

  • stream − This is the pointer to a FILE object that identifies the stream.
  • format − This is the C string that contains one or more of the following items − Whitespace character, Non-whitespace character, and Format specifiers.
  • A format specifier will be as [=%[*][width][modifiers]type=].

1. Read File Word by Word in C using fscanf Function

Here we are making use of the fscanf function to read the text file. The first thing we are going to do is open the file in reading mode. So using fopen() function and “r” read mode we opened the file. The next step is to find the file stats like what is the size of the data this file contains. so we can allocate exact memory for the buffer that is going to hold the content of this file. We are using the stat() function to find the file size.

  • Once we have the size and buffer allocated for this size, we start reading the file by using the fscanf() function.
  • We keep reading the file word by word until we reach the end of file.In fscanf function, we are passing “%39[^-\n] as the argument so we can read the text until we find the next word.
  • The code will look like this:
fscanf(in_file, "%39[^-\n]", file_contents)

C Program to Read text File word by word

To run this program, we need one text file with the name Readme.txt in the same folder where we have our code.The content of the file is:

Hello My name is 
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <sys/stat.h>

const char* filename = "Readme.txt";

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    FILE *in_file = fopen(filename, "r");
    if (!in_file) 
        return 0;

    struct stat sb;
    if (stat(filename, &sb) == -1) 
        return 0;

    char *file_contents = malloc(sb.st_size);

    while (fscanf(in_file, "%[^-\n ] ", file_contents) != EOF) {
      printf("> %s\n", file_contents);

    return 0;