What is an "index out of range" exception, and how do I fix it?


I'm getting one of the following errors:

  • "Index was out of range. Must be non-negative and less than the size of the collection"
  • "Insertion index was out of range. Must be non-negative and less than or equal to size."
  • "Index was outside the bounds of the array."

What does it mean, and how do I fix it?

See Also

This question is tagged with c# .net indexoutofrangeexception

~ Asked on 2014-07-17 20:13:11

The Best Answer is


Why does this error occur?

Because you tried to access an element in a collection, using a numeric index that exceeds the collection's boundaries.

The first element in a collection is generally located at index 0. The last element is at index n-1, where n is the Size of the collection (the number of elements it contains). If you attempt to use a negative number as an index, or a number that is larger than Size-1, you're going to get an error.

How indexing arrays works

When you declare an array like this:

var array = new int[6]

The first and last elements in the array are

var firstElement = array[0];
var lastElement = array[5];

So when you write:

var element = array[5];

you are retrieving the sixth element in the array, not the fifth one.

Typically, you would loop over an array like this:

for (int index = 0; index < array.Length; index++)

This works, because the loop starts at zero, and ends at Length-1 because index is no longer less than Length.

This, however, will throw an exception:

for (int index = 0; index <= array.Length; index++)

Notice the <= there? index will now be out of range in the last loop iteration, because the loop thinks that Length is a valid index, but it is not.

How other collections work

Lists work the same way, except that you generally use Count instead of Length. They still start at zero, and end at Count - 1.

for (int index = 0; i < list.Count; index++)

However, you can also iterate through a list using foreach, avoiding the whole problem of indexing entirely:

foreach (var element in list)

You cannot index an element that hasn't been added to a collection yet.

var list = new List<string>();
Console.WriteLine(list[3]);  // Throws exception.

~ Answered on 2014-07-17 20:13:11

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