What Does Character Data Type Store?


Heather Bennett

When working with programming languages, it is essential to understand the different data types available. One of the most commonly used data types is the character data type. In this article, we will explore what character data type stores and how it can be utilized in programming.

Character Data Type

The character data type, often abbreviated as char, is used to store individual characters. It can hold any character from a-z (both uppercase and lowercase), digits from 0-9, special characters such as punctuation marks, and even whitespace.

Character data types are particularly useful when dealing with textual information such as names, addresses, or any other form of alphanumeric data. They are widely used in programming languages like C++, Java, and Python.

Declaring a Character Variable

To declare a variable of the character data type in most programming languages, you need to specify the char keyword followed by the variable name. For example:

char myChar = 'A';

In this example, we have declared a variable named myChar of type char and assigned the value ‘A’ to it.

Character Literals

In programming languages, characters are represented using single quotation marks (”). For example:

char myChar = 'Z';

In this case, we have assigned the character ‘Z’ to the variable myChar.

Escape Sequences

In some cases, you may need to represent special characters using escape sequences. Escape sequences are combinations of backslash (\) followed by a specific letter or code that represents a special character.

For example, to represent a newline character, you can use the escape sequence ‘\n’. Here’s an example:

char myChar = '\n';

The variable myChar now holds the newline character.

Operations on Character Data Type

In addition to storing individual characters, the character data type allows various operations to be performed on it. Some common operations include:

  • Comparison: Characters can be compared using relational operators such as ==, <, and >.
  • Concatenation: Characters can be concatenated using the + operator. For example, ‘H’ + ‘i’ will result in ‘Hi’.
  • Conversion: Characters can be converted to their corresponding ASCII values and vice versa using built-in functions or methods provided by programming languages.

Note on Unicode and ASCII

In modern programming languages, characters are typically represented using Unicode, which allows for a larger set of characters and international support. However, some older languages like C still use ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) encoding.


The character data type is a fundamental component of programming languages that allows for the storage and manipulation of individual characters. It is particularly useful when working with textual data. By understanding how to declare character variables, work with character literals and perform operations on them, you can effectively utilize this data type in your programs.

Remember to always refer to the documentation of your chosen programming language for specific details and additional functionalities related to character data types.

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