What Is the Char Data Type in Java?


Larry Thompson

What Is the Char Data Type in Java?

In Java, the char data type represents a single Unicode character. It is a 16-bit unsigned integer and can store any character from the Unicode character set, including letters, digits, symbols, and even special characters. The char data type is used to declare variables that store individual characters in Java programs.

Declaring a char Variable

To declare a char variable in Java, you use the following syntax:

char variableName = 'character';

Here, variableName is the name you choose for your variable, and ‘character’ is the specific character you want to store. Note that the character must be enclosed in single quotes (‘). For example:

char grade = 'A';

In this example, we declare a char variable named grade, which stores the character ‘A’.

The Unicode Character Set

The reason why Java’s char data type can hold such a wide range of characters is because it uses the Unicode character set. Unicode assigns unique numeric values to each character from different writing systems around the world. This allows programmers to work with characters from various languages and scripts.

Evaluating Characters Using ASCII Values

In addition to representing characters directly, you can also use ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) values with the char data type. Each character in the char data type has a corresponding ASCII value, which is an integer between 0 and 65535.

To assign an ASCII value to a char variable, you can use the following syntax:

char variableName = (char) asciiValue;

Here, variableName is the name of the variable, and asciiValue is the ASCII value you want to assign. Note that you need to cast the integer to a char.

You can also obtain the ASCII value of a character by using its Unicode escape sequence, ‘\u’ followed by its four-digit hexadecimal value. For example:

char dollarSign = '\u0024';

In this example, we assign the ASCII value 36 (which represents a dollar sign) to the dollarSign variable using its Unicode escape sequence.

The char Data Type and Arithmetic Operations

The char data type in Java can also be used in arithmetic operations. Since it is internally represented as an integer, you can perform mathematical operations on char variables just like any other numeric type.

If you perform arithmetic operations on characters, Java will use their corresponding ASCII values. For example:

char c1 = 'A';
int result = c1 + 1; // result will be 66

In this example, we declare a c1 variable with the value ‘A’ and add 1 to it. Since the ASCII value of ‘A’ is 65, the result will be 66.


The char data type in Java allows you to work with individual characters from the Unicode character set. It is useful for storing and manipulating characters in Java programs.

Remember to enclose characters in single quotes when declaring char variables. You can also use ASCII values and perform arithmetic operations on char variables. Understanding the char data type is essential for working with text-based applications in Java.

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