Performs a quick sort. A more secure version of this function is available; see qsort_s.

void qsort(
   void *base,
   size_t num,
   size_t width,
   int (__cdecl *compare )(const void *, const void *) 


  • base
    Start of target array.

  • num
    Array size in elements.

  • width
    Element size in bytes.

  • compare
    Pointer to a user-supplied routine that compares two array elements and returns a value that specifies their relationship.


The qsort function implements a quick-sort algorithm to sort an array of num elements, each of width bytes. The argument base is a pointer to the base of the array to be sorted. qsort overwrites this array by using the sorted elements.

qsort calls the compare routine one or more times during the sort, and passes pointers to two array elements on each call.

compare( (void *) & elem1, (void *) & elem2 );

The routine compares the elements and returns one of the following values.

Compare function return value


< 0

elem1 less than elem2


elem1 equivalent to elem2

> 0

elem1 greater than elem2

The array is sorted in increasing order, as defined by the comparison function. To sort an array in decreasing order, reverse the sense of "greater than" and "less than" in the comparison function.

This function validates its parameters. If compare or num is NULL, or if base is NULL and *num is nonzero, or if width is less than zero, the invalid parameter handler is invoked, as described in Parameter Validation. If execution is allowed to continue, the function returns and errno is set to EINVAL.



Required header


<stdlib.h> and <search.h>

For additional compatibility information, see Compatibility.


// crt_qsort.c
// arguments: every good boy deserves favor

/* This program reads the command-line
 * parameters and uses qsort to sort them. It
 * then displays the sorted arguments.

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

int compare( const void *arg1, const void *arg2 );

int main( int argc, char **argv )
   int i;
   /* Eliminate argv[0] from sort: */

   /* Sort remaining args using Quicksort algorithm: */
   qsort( (void *)argv, (size_t)argc, sizeof( char * ), compare );

   /* Output sorted list: */
   for( i = 0; i < argc; ++i )
      printf( " %s", argv[i] );
   printf( "\n" );

int compare( const void *arg1, const void *arg2 )
   /* Compare all of both strings: */
   return _stricmp( * ( char** ) arg1, * ( char** ) arg2 );

boy deserves every favor good

.NET Framework Equivalent


See Also


Searching and Sorting



Change History




Corrected and updated the parameter descriptions.

Customer feedback.