area a, area b, COBOL, column 7, COMMENT, continuation, indicator area, mainframe
Use the indicator area to specify:
o The continuation of words or alphanumeric literals from the previous line onto the current line
o The treatment of text as documentation
o Debugging lines
Continuation lines (An “-” in column 7)
Any sentence, entry, clause, or phrase that requires more than one line can be continued in Area B of the next line that is neither a comment line nor a blank line. The line being continued is a continued line; the succeeding lines are continuation lines. Area A of a continuation line must be blank.
If there is no hyphen (-) in the indicator area (column 7) of a line, the last character of the preceding line is assumed to be followed by a space.
Comment lines (An “*” or “/” in column 7)
A comment line is any line with an asterisk (*) or slash (/) in the indicator area (column 7) of the line. The comment can be written anywhere in Area A and Area B of that line, and can consist of any combination of characters from the character set of the computer.
An asterisk (*) comment line is printed on the next available line in the output listing. The effect can be dependent on the LINECOUNT compiler option. For information about the LINECOUNT compiler option, see the Enterprise COBOL Programming Guide. A slash (/) comment line is printed on the first line of the next page, and the current page of the output listing is ejected.
Debugging lines (An “D” in column 7)
A debugging line is any line with a D (or d) in the indicator area of the line. Debugging lines can be written in the environment division (after the OBJECT-COMPUTER paragraph), the data division, and the procedure division. If a debugging line contains only spaces in Area A and Area B, it is considered a blank line.
Area A (Columns 8 – 11 )
The following items must begin in Area A:
- Division headers
- Section headers
- Paragraph headers or paragraph names
- Level indicators or level-numbers (01 and 77)
- DECLARATIVES and END DECLARATIVES
- End program, end class, and end method markers
Area B (Columns 12 through 72)
The following items must begin in Area B:
- Entries, sentences, statements, and clauses
- Continuation lines
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