Structured Programming Simplified: What Exactly is it and its Elusive Definition

Structured programming is a method used in the IT industry and software development, specifically for designing and writing efficient, easy-to-understand code. It involves organizing code in a structured and organized manner, facilitating programmers to build complex applications without issue. By following certain principles that break problems into smaller, manageable pieces, structured programming has become an essential approach for a variety of use cases across software design. In fact, a study by the Software Engineering Institute found that utilizing structured programming resulted in a 52% reduction in errors and a 72% improvement in programming efficiency. This article will explore what structured programming is, its key features, benefits, best practices, and recommended books related to the topic.

“Structured Programming is the art of correctly constructing loops and conditional statements.”
– Edsger W. Dijkstra

What is structured programming? Definition of Structured Programming

Structured programming is a programming paradigm aimed at improving the clarity, quality, and ease of understanding of software code. It is achieved through organizing the code into modules, and by the use of control structures like sequence, selection, and iteration. In addition, structured programming focuses on the idea of one entry and one exit point within a code block, making the program flow more predictable and easier to troubleshoot.

ℹ️ Synonyms: Procedural programming, Modular programming, Top-down programming.

How it Works

At its core, structured programming works by breaking complex problems down into smaller, more easily solvable components. These components are then organized into a hierarchy of modules, each with a specific function or responsibility. The control structures, such as loops, conditional statements, and procedures, are used to manage the flow of the program. This ensures that the program remains readable, maintainable, and efficient.

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Control Structures in Structured Programming

Structured programming revolves around three basic control structures: sequence, selection, and iteration.

1. Sequence: This refers to executing statements in a linear order, one after the other.
2. Selection: Also known as conditional statements, selection control structures are used to make decisions within the code, determining which path the program should take based on certain conditions.
3. Iteration: These control structures involve loops, which help repeat a particular section of code as long as a specified condition is met.

These control structures help provide structure to the program and maintain an organized flow of operations.

Benefits of Using Structured Programming

  • Ease of understanding: The organized nature of structured programming makes it easier for programmers to understand, maintain, and modify the code.
  • Reduced complexity: By breaking problems into smaller components, the complexity of the code is reduced, making it easier to manage and troubleshoot.
  • Higher productivity: Structured programming increases efficiency by reducing errors and minimizing debugging time.
  • Scalability: Structured code can often be extended or modified more easily, as new features can be incorporated into the existing modular design.
  • Maintainability: The use of modules and clear separation of concerns make structured programming ideal for long-term maintenance and updates.

Structured Programming Use Cases

Structured programming is applicable across a wide range of programming languages and industries. Some common use cases include:

– Building complex applications: Structured programming makes it easier to manage the intricate components of large-scale applications.
– Software maintenance and debugging: The organised nature of structured programming makes it easier to identify and fix issues within the code.
– Collaborative environments: Since structured programming facilitates readability, it simplifies collaboration between different team members on a project.

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Best Practices

When applying structured programming, it is essential to keep certain best practices in mind. Start by defining the desired program outcome, and then break the problem into smaller tasks, organizing them into a hierarchy of modules. Utilize proper indentation, whitespace, and comments for increased readability. Always strive to create reusable code that can be easily modified or extended in the future. Last, but not least, adhere to the one entry and one exit principle, ensuring the control flow remains predictable and easily traceable.

Most Recommended Books about Structured Programming

To further explore the concept of structured programming and to enhance your knowledge in the field, the following books are highly recommended:

1. “Structured Programming” by Edsger W. Dijkstra, C.A.R. Hoare, and Ole-Johan Dahl.
2. “Structured Programming with C++” by Kjell Bäckman.
3. “PASCAL: Structured Programming for Engineering and Science” by William Gibson.
4. “Structured Programming Using Turbo BASIC” by Leo Uzych.
5. “Software Construction and Data Structures with Ada 95” by Michael B. Feldman.


Structured programming is a valuable approach to software development that not only increases efficiency and reduces errors but also aids in the readability and maintainability of code. By embracing structured programming principles, programmers can create high-quality, scalable applications in a variety of languages and industries. Invest time in learning more about the topic through books and online resources, and strive to incorporate structured programming practices into your coding process to experience its numerous benefits.

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Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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li-url Lou Reverchuk

IT Entrepreneur

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