std::print in C++23

I just realized that 2023 is almost over and I haven’t posted about the most important feature of C++23. Which feature is that, you might ask? Unlike C++20 which had a bunch of massive new features like modules, concepts and the third one, C++23 feels incremental.

The C++23 feature I am referring to is, of course, std::print, modeled after fmt::print from the {fmt} library. It feels deceptively small but it took ~3 years to get through the C++ committee and it changes the most important aspect of C++, the way we write Hello World:

#include <print>

int main() {
  std::print("Hello, world!\n");

std::print is fairly small in terms of the standard wording because it builds on the foundation of C++20 std::format. It is also relatively easy to implement with libc++ already shipping it in version 17: godbolt.

The API of std::print resembles that of printf but it has a number of important advantages compared to both stdio and iostreams.


std::print is fully type-safe with errors in format strings caught at compile time by default. This eliminates the whole class of errors and a common source of vulnerabilities.

std::print("{:d}", "I am not a number"); // compile error


std::print supports formatting of user-defined types via the same extension mechanism as std::format. Most standard types like containers, ranges, dates and times are formattable out-of-the-box. This is a major improvement compared to printf that doesn’t provide a standard extension API. For example:

#include <vector>
#include <print>

int main() {
  std::vector<int> v = {1, 2, 3};
  std::print("{}\n", v);


[1, 2, 3]


std::print provides portable Unicode support. All you need to do is make sure that the string literal encoding is UTF-8. This is normally the default on POSIX and on Windows/MSVC it is enabled with a single compiler switch, /utf-8. It is a good idea to use /utf-8 even if you don’t need std::print.

For example (godbolt):

#include <print>

int main() {
  std::print("Hello, {}!\n", "world");
  std::print("Olá, {}!\n", "Mundo");
  std::print("你好{}!\n", "世界");


Hello, world!
Olá, Mundo!

Neither stdio nor iostreams can be used to reliably print Unicode on Windows and in fact very few languages do it correctly. One of notable exceptions is Rust where print! works great with Unicode.


Performance depends on the quality of implementation but there are important factors that make std::print faster than its stdio and iostreams counterparts by design:

  • More efficient argument passing mechanism which is particularly beneficial for positional arguments.
  • Locale-independent formatting by default. This has both reliability and performance implications.
  • std::print can write directly to a C stream (FILE) bypassing the inefficient iostream buffering and extra synchronization.

Here are some benchmark results comparing {fmt}’s implementation of print with other libraries:

LibraryMethodRun Time, s
{fmt} 9.1fmt::print0.74

On this benchmark fmt::print is ~20% faster than printf from Apple’s libc.


Like in printf, parts of messages printed with std::print from multiple threads don’t interleave. In iostreams they can interleave unless you use C++20 std::syncstream.

Binary size

Again, this depends on the quality of implementation, but once std::print implementations are stable and moved from headers to libraries we can expect compact per-call binary code. Here is an example from the paper that uses {fmt} that has already been optimized for binary size:

void printf_test(const char* name) {
  printf("Hello, %s!", name);
       0:       55      pushq   %rbp
       1:       48 89 e5        movq    %rsp, %rbp
       4:       48 89 fe        movq    %rdi, %rsi
       7:       48 8d 3d 08 00 00 00    leaq    8(%rip), %rdi
       e:       31 c0   xorl    %eax, %eax
      10:       5d      popq    %rbp
      11:       e9 00 00 00 00  jmp     0 <__Z11printf_testPKc+0x16>
void ostream_test(const char* name) {
  std::cout << "Hello, " << name << "!";
       0:       55      pushq   %rbp
       1:       48 89 e5        movq    %rsp, %rbp
       4:       41 56   pushq   %r14
       6:       53      pushq   %rbx
       7:       48 89 fb        movq    %rdi, %rbx
       a:       48 8b 3d 00 00 00 00    movq    (%rip), %rdi
      11:       48 8d 35 6c 03 00 00    leaq    876(%rip), %rsi
      18:       ba 07 00 00 00  movl    $7, %edx
      1d:       e8 00 00 00 00  callq   0 <__Z12ostream_testPKc+0x22>
      22:       49 89 c6        movq    %rax, %r14
      25:       48 89 df        movq    %rbx, %rdi
      28:       e8 00 00 00 00  callq   0 <__Z12ostream_testPKc+0x2d>
      2d:       4c 89 f7        movq    %r14, %rdi
      30:       48 89 de        movq    %rbx, %rsi
      33:       48 89 c2        movq    %rax, %rdx
      36:       e8 00 00 00 00  callq   0 <__Z12ostream_testPKc+0x3b>
      3b:       48 8d 35 4a 03 00 00    leaq    842(%rip), %rsi
      42:       ba 01 00 00 00  movl    $1, %edx
      47:       48 89 c7        movq    %rax, %rdi
      4a:       5b      popq    %rbx
      4b:       41 5e   popq    %r14
      4d:       5d      popq    %rbp
      4e:       e9 00 00 00 00  jmp     0 <__Z12ostream_testPKc+0x53>
      53:       66 2e 0f 1f 84 00 00 00 00 00   nopw    %cs:(%rax,%rax)
      5d:       0f 1f 00        nopl    (%rax)
void print_test(const char* name) {
  print("Hello, {}!", name);
       0:	55 	pushq	%rbp
       1:	48 89 e5 	movq	%rsp, %rbp
       4:	48 83 ec 10 	subq	$16, %rsp
       8:	48 89 7d f0 	movq	%rdi, -16(%rbp)
       c:	48 8d 3d 19 00 00 00 	leaq	25(%rip), %rdi
      13:	48 8d 4d f0 	leaq	-16(%rbp), %rcx
      17:	be 0a 00 00 00 	movl	$10, %esi
      1c:	ba 0d 00 00 00 	movl	$13, %edx
      21:	e8 00 00 00 00 	callq	0 <__Z10print_testPKc+0x26>
      26:	48 83 c4 10 	addq	$16, %rsp
      2a:	5d 	popq	%rbp
      2b:	c3 	retq

As you can see the code generated for print is somewhere in between printf and ostream. Considering that print’s example adds runtime safety, error handling and is more efficient, this seems like a reasonable tradeoff.


Thanks to Corentin Jabot, Roger Orr, Peter Brett, Hubert Tong, the BSI C++ panel, the Unicode Study Group of the C++ committee, Tom Honermann and Tim Song for their feedback, support, constructive criticism and contributions to the std::print proposal.

Also thanks to my current and past managers at Facebook (now Meta) for supporting my standardization work and the company for paying for my trips to standards committee meetings.

And, of course, thanks to hundreds of contributors to the {fmt} library for their work.

What’s next?

Now that we provide a safe, extensible and efficient formatting output facility, the next obvious frontier is formatted input. It poses a completely different set of challenges but we could apply some of the lessons from the std::format and std::print work. If you are interested in formatted input, check out the excellent scnlib library by Elias Kosunen.

What took you so long?

Why did they need 38 years for std::print?

— celsheet on Reddit

I was too young to be involved with C++ 38 years ago so I don’t have full context but the print function in almost its current form has been available in the {fmt} library (called C++ Format back then) since version 0.10.0 released 9.5 years ago. I intentionally didn’t include I/O in the std::format proposal to keep the scope manageable. It took extra 3 years for std::print mostly because Unicode on Windows is very broken due to layers of legacy codepages.

Last modified on 2023-12-24