Creating user friendly strings for C# enums

March 19, 2015 by Anuraj

.Net .Net 3.0 / 3.5 .Net 4.0 ASP.Net ASP.Net MVC Windows Forms

Recently one of my colleague asked me question, he want to create a enum with string values. But C# doesn’t support string based enums, so here is the code snippet which will help you to associate string values to enums. This code is not using any custom attribute, instead it is using DescriptionAttribute class. Here is the enum, with the associated string values.

enum OrderStatus
    [Description("New Order")]
    NewOrder = 1,
    [Description("Order is processing")]
    Processing = 2,
    [Description("Order is shipped")]
    Shipped = 3

And here is the extension method, which returns the string value associated to the enum

public static class Extensions
    public static string Description(this Enum @enum)
        var description = string.Empty;
        var fields = @enum.GetType().GetFields();
        foreach (var field in fields)
            var descriptionAttribute = Attribute.GetCustomAttribute(field,
                typeof(DescriptionAttribute)) as DescriptionAttribute;
            if (descriptionAttribute != null && 
field.Name.Equals(@enum.ToString(), StringComparison.InvariantCultureIgnoreCase))
                description = descriptionAttribute.Description;

        return description;

You can get the description from enum like this.

var orderStatus = OrderStatus.NewOrder;

Happy Programming :)

Update : Based on the comment from NDVictory, source code modified to return the exact value, earlier it was always returning the first value. Thank you NDVictory

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