In this specification, “must” is to be interpreted as a requirement on an implementation or on a program; conversely, “must not” is to be interpreted as a prohibition.

If a “must” or “must not” requirement that appears outside of a constraint is violated, the behavior is undefined. Undefined behavior is otherwise indicated in this specification by the words “undefined behavior” or by the omission of any explicit definition of behavior. There is no difference in emphasis among these three; they all describe “behavior that is undefined”.

The word “may” indicates “permission”, and is never used to mean “might”.

A strictly conforming program must use only those features of the language described in this specification. In particular, it must not produce output or exhibit behavior dependent on any unspecified, undefined, or implementation-defined behavior.

A conforming implementation must accept any strictly conforming program. A conforming implementation may have extensions, provided they do not alter the behavior of any strictly conforming program.

A conforming program is one that is acceptable to a conforming implementation.

A conforming implementation must be accompanied by a document that defines all implementation-defined characteristics and all extensions.

Some Syntax sections are followed by a Constraints section, which further restricts the grammar. After issuing a diagnostic for a constraint violation, a conforming implementation may continue program execution. In some cases, such continuation behavior is documented (for example, what happens when passing too few arguments to a function). Making such things constraint violations simply forces the issuance of a diagnostic; it does not require that program execution terminate.

This specification contains explanatory material—called informative or non-normative text—that, strictly speaking, is not necessary in a formal language specification. Examples are provided to illustrate possible forms of the constructions described. References are used to refer to related clauses. Notes and Implementer Notes are provided to give advice or guidance to implementers or programmers. Informative annexes provide additional information and summarize the information contained in this specification. All text not marked as informative is normative.

Certain features are marked as deprecated. While these are normative for the current edition of this specification, they are not guaranteed to exist in future revisions. Usually, they are old approaches that have been superseded by new ones, and use of the old approach is discouraged. (Examples of this include the use of braces ({ }) for subscripting, and the use of old-style constructor names).