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How can I align text in columns using Console.WriteLine?

Posted by: admin November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

I have a sort of column display, but the end two column’s seem to not be aligning correctly. This is the code I have at the moment:

Console.WriteLine("Customer name    " 
    + "sales          " 
    + "fee to be paid    " 
    + "70% value       " 
    + "30% value");
for (int DisplayPos = 0; DisplayPos < LineNum; DisplayPos = DisplayPos + 1)
{
    seventy_percent_value = ((fee_payable[DisplayPos] / 10.0) * 7);
    thirty_percent_value = ((fee_payable[DisplayPos] / 10.0) * 3);          
    Console.WriteLine(customer[DisplayPos] + "         " 
        + sales_figures[DisplayPos] + "               " 
        + fee_payable[DisplayPos] + "           " 
        + seventy_percent_value + "           " 
        + thirty_percent_value);
}

I am a rookie programmer so I may not understand all advice given, but if you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated!

Answers:

Instead of trying to manually align the text into columns with arbitrary strings of spaces, you should embed actual tabs (the \t escape sequence) into each output string:

Console.WriteLine("Customer name" + "\t"
    + "sales" + "\t" 
    + "fee to be paid" + "\t" 
    + "70% value" + "\t" 
    + "30% value");
for (int DisplayPos = 0; DisplayPos < LineNum; DisplayPos++)
{
    seventy_percent_value = ((fee_payable[DisplayPos] / 10.0) * 7);
    thirty_percent_value = ((fee_payable[DisplayPos] / 10.0) * 3);          
    Console.WriteLine(customer[DisplayPos] + "\t" 
        + sales_figures[DisplayPos] + "\t" 
        + fee_payable + "\t\t"
        + seventy_percent_value + "\t\t" 
        + thirty_percent_value);
}

Questions:
Answers:

Try this

Console.WriteLine("{0,10}{1,10}{2,10}{3,10}{4,10}",
  customer[DisplayPos],
  sales_figures[DisplayPos],
  fee_payable[DisplayPos], 
  seventy_percent_value,
  thirty_percent_value);

where the first number inside the curly brackets is the index and the second is the alignment. The sign of the second number indicates if the string should be left or right aligned. Use negative numbers for left alignment.

Or look at
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa331875(v=vs.71).aspx

Questions:
Answers:

Just to add to roya’s answer. In c# 6.0 you can now use string interpolation:

Console.WriteLine($"{customer[DisplayPos],10}" +
                  $"{salesFigures[DisplayPos],10}" +
                  $"{feePayable[DisplayPos],10}" +
                  $"{seventyPercentValue,10}" +
                  $"{thirtyPercentValue,10}");

This can actually be one line without all the extra dollars, I just think it makes it a bit easier to read like this.

And you could also use a static import on System.Console, allowing you to do this:

using static System.Console;

WriteLine(/* write stuff */);

Questions:
Answers:

I know, very old thread but the proposed solution was not fully automatic when there are longer strings around.

I therefore created a small helper method which does it fully automatic. Just pass in a list of string array where each array represents a line and each element in the array, well an element of the line.

The method can be used like this:

var lines = new List<string[]>();
lines.Add(new[] { "What", "Before", "After"});
lines.Add(new[] { "Name:", name1, name2});
lines.Add(new[] { "City:", city1, city2});
lines.Add(new[] { "Zip:", zip1, zip2});
lines.Add(new[] { "Street:", street1, street2});
var output = ConsoleUtility.PadElementsInLines(lines, 3);

The helper method is as follows:

public static class ConsoleUtility
{
    /// <summary>
    /// Converts a List of string arrays to a string where each element in each line is correctly padded.
    /// Make sure that each array contains the same amount of elements!
    /// - Example without:
    /// Title Name Street
    /// Mr. Roman Sesamstreet
    /// Mrs. Claudia Abbey Road
    /// - Example with:
    /// Title   Name      Street
    /// Mr.     Roman     Sesamstreet
    /// Mrs.    Claudia   Abbey Road
    /// <param name="lines">List lines, where each line is an array of elements for that line.</param>
    /// <param name="padding">Additional padding between each element (default = 1)</param>
    /// </summary>
    public static string PadElementsInLines(List<string[]> lines, int padding = 1)
    {
        // Calculate maximum numbers for each element accross all lines
        var numElements = lines[0].Length;
        var maxValues = new int[numElements];
        for (int i = 0; i < numElements; i++)
        {
            maxValues[i] = lines.Max(x => x[i].Length) + padding;
        }
        var sb = new StringBuilder();
        // Build the output
        bool isFirst = true;
        foreach (var line in lines)
        {
            if (!isFirst)
            {
                sb.AppendLine();
            }
            isFirst = false;
            for (int i = 0; i < line.Length; i++)
            {
                var value = line[i];
                // Append the value with padding of the maximum length of any value for this element
                sb.Append(value.PadRight(maxValues[i]));
            }
        }
        return sb.ToString();
    }
}

Hope this helps someone. The source is from a post in my blog here: http://dev.flauschig.ch/wordpress/?p=387

Questions:
Answers:

You could use tabs instead of spaces between columns, and/or set maximum size for a column in format strings …