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Character Set in C


Every language has some basic elements which are used to represent information. The English language includes alphabets which together shape a sentence, after which the sentences are used to shape a paragraph.

Like every language, C also contains a set of characters which are used to represent information. The set of characters in C included alphabets, digits and special symbols. The language supports 256 characters in total.

Every program in C language consists of statements. The statements contain words, and the words are further constructed using characters from characters set in C.

The character set in C consists of the following set of characters:

  1. Alphabets
  2. Digits
  3. Special Symbols

Note: The characters set in C are both machine and user readable since they are from human understandable language.

Need of Characters

Every language has some basic elements which are used to represent information. The English language includes alphabets which together shape a sentence, after which the sentences are used to shape a paragraph, similar to this, a combination of different types of characters forms a program. The characters are building blocks to write a program.

Classification of Characters in C

The characters in C are classified into two types:

Source Characters




Special characters/symbols

White Spaces

Execution Characters



Source Characters

1) Alphabets:

The alphabets in ANSI C are the same as alphabets in the English language. Every alphabet in the english language is supported by the C language too and, this includes both upper and lowercase letters which together sums upto 52 alphabets.

  1. Lowercase letters - a to z
  2. Uppercase letters - A to Z

Note: The lowercase (small letters) and uppercase (caps letter) are distinct in the C programming language.

2) Numerical Digits:

The C language supports a total of 10 digits. These digits lie in the range from 0 to 9 and are used to construct numerical values.

Digits: 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

3) Special Symbols:

There are various types of special symbols supported by the C language. This rich set of special symbols includes symbols to perform;

  • Mathematical operations
  • Condition checking
  • White spacing
  • Backspaces

The following are the special characters contained by the C language language with their symbols and meaning:

Symbol   Meaning  
 ~ Tilde
 !Exclamation mark
 $Dollar sign
 #Number sign
Lest parenthesis
 )Right parenthesis
 +Plus sign
%Percent sign 
 | Vertical bar
  \ Backslash
 ` Apostrophe
 " Quotation mark
 ; Semicolon
 < Opening angle bracket
 > Closing angle bracket
  ? Question mark
 , Comma
  / Slash
 - Minus sign
 = Equal to sign
  { Left brace
  } Right brace
 [ Left bracket
] Right bracket
 :  Colon
 - Minus sign

Execution Characters

The execution characters in C are the characters which are invisible on the display window or console. The execution characters are related to ASCII values which are understood by the computer when a certain command is passed to the computer.


Every language has some basic elements which are used to represent information. Like every language, C also contains a set of characters which are used to represent information.

Character Set in C language

Alphabets : a to z and A to Z
Digits :        0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
Symbols :   ~, &, %, $, *, ^
Space :       Blank, back, tab etc