In C++ we provide names for the entities we create, the variables, functions and types in our programs. These names, or identifiers, are required to conform to some simple rules.
An identifier must start with a letter and is comprised of a sequence of letters and digits. Somewhat surprisingly, in this context the underscore _ is considered to be a letter (although there are conditions associated with its use). There's no restriction on the length of an identifier.
Use of Underscore
Identifiers beginning with an underscore followed by an upper case letter are reserved for use by the implentation, as are identifiers beginning with a two consecutive underscores, so to avoid problems you should refrain from using them for your own identifiers.
You can't use an identifier that is a C++ keyword in your programs. Keywords are:
and, and_eq, asm, auto, bitand, bitor, bool, break, case, catch, char, class, compl, const, const_cast, continue, default, delete, do, double, dynamic_cast, else, enum, explicit, export, extern, false, float, for, friend, goto, if, inline, int, long, mutable, namespace, new, not, not_eq, operator, or, or_eq, private, protected, public, register, reinterpret_cast, return, short, signed, sizeof, static, static_cast, struct, switch, template, this, throw, true, try, typedef, typeid, typename, union, unsigned, using, virtual, void, volatile, wchar_t, while, xor, xor_eq.
You should also try to avoid using names from the C++ library, e.g. swap, max.
C++ is case sensitive, so upper case and lower case characters are distinct. This means that the names userInput and userinput are recognised as two different identifiers.
Examples of acceptable identifiers are:
calculate_height, readWindSpeed, channel42, foo, BAR
Examples of unacceptable identifiers:
calculate height, delete, 2letters, _HELLO_
Hints and Tips
Use meaningful descriptive names to make your code more easily understood,
int height rather than int h,
char menuSelection rather then char ch,
int patient_age rather than int number.
Avoid names that differ only in capitalisation
e.g. height, Height.
Avoid using names that are keywords but with different capitalisation
e.g. Return, Continue.
Try to maintain a consistent style
- Capitalising all words except the first,
e.g. readInUserData(), getMaximumSpeed().
- Using underscore to separate words,
e.g. read_in_user_data(), get_maximum_speed().
- Using a type identifier prefix,
e.g. int nGetSomeIntegerValue, char szDataString.