Singly Linked Lists in C Programming

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Singly linked lists are a fundamental data structure in C that offer versatility and dynamic memory allocation. In this article, we'll explore the decision-making process of when and why to use linked lists over arrays. We'll also delve into the intricacies of building and utilizing singly linked lists, empowering you to create more efficient, flexible, and organized programs.

Choosing Linked Lists Over Arrays

Linked Lists vs. Arrays: Linked lists provide advantages in scenarios where dynamic sizing and insertion/deletion operations are crucial. Arrays, on the other hand, excel in constant-time access and memory efficiency for fixed-size collections.

Embracing the Anatomy of Singly Linked Lists

A singly linked list consists of nodes, where each node contains data and a reference (or pointer) to the next node in the sequence:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>

struct Node {
    int data;
    struct Node *next;

int main() {
    // Creating nodes
    struct Node *node1 = (struct Node *)malloc(sizeof(struct Node));
    struct Node *node2 = (struct Node *)malloc(sizeof(struct Node));
    struct Node *node3 = (struct Node *)malloc(sizeof(struct Node));

    // Setting data
    node1->data = 10;
    node2->data = 20;
    node3->data = 30;

    // Linking nodes
    node1->next = node2;
    node2->next = node3;
    node3->next = NULL;

    // Traversing and printing linked list
    struct Node *current = node1;
    while (current != NULL) {
        printf("%d ", current->data);
        current = current->next;

    // Freeing allocated memory

    return 0;

When to Use Singly Linked Lists

  • Dynamic Sizing: When the size of the collection changes frequently.

  • Insertion and Deletion: For efficient insertion and deletion operations.

  • Memory Flexibility: When memory allocation is dynamic.


Singly linked lists provide a dynamic and efficient alternative to arrays, offering benefits in dynamic sizing, insertion/deletion operations, and memory flexibility. By understanding when to use linked lists and how they're structured, you're equipped to create programs that adapt and scale to changing requirements.

As you explore the world of singly linked lists, you're enhancing your programming repertoire with a powerful tool. By applying linked lists to practical scenarios, you're becoming a more proficient C programmer, ready to tackle a variety of programming challenges.

Keep experimenting, learning, and applying linked lists in different contexts—it's through continuous practice that you elevate your programming journey!