Languages that have a dedicated character data type generally include character literals; these include C, C++, Java, and Visual Basic, but not Python or PHP. Languages without character data types will typically use strings of length 1 to serve the same purpose a character data type would fulfil. This simplifies the implementation and basic usage of a language but also introduces new scope for programming errors.
A common convention for expressing a character literal is to use a single quote (
') for character literals, as contrasted by the use of a double quote (
") for string literals. For example,
'a' indicates the single character
"a" indicates the string
a of length 1.
The representation of a character within the computer memory, in storage, and in data transmission, is dependent on a particular character encoding scheme. For example, an ASCII (or extended ASCII) scheme will use a single byte of computer memory, while a UTF-8 scheme will use one or more bytes, depending on the particular character being encoded.
Alternative ways to encode character values include specifying an integer value for a code point, such as an ASCII code value or a Unicode code point. This may be done directly via converting an integer literal to a character, or via an escape sequence.
- "Primitive Data Types (The Java™ Tutorials > Learning the Java Language > Language Basics)". docs.oracle.com. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
- "Data Type Summary (Visual Basic)". msdn.microsoft.com. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
- "5. Built-in Types — Python 2.7.12 documentation". docs.python.org. Retrieved 2016-09-24.
- "PHP: Types - Manual". php.net. Retrieved 2016-09-24.