Pad Character

What Does Pad Character Mean?

A pad character is a character in a field or string that
is used to create uniform length for a data set. Using pad characters, a
program makes a given “string,” which is a programed set of characters, a
certain length, regardless of what it contains.


Techopedia Explains Pad Character

Pad characters work to make random or user-entered strings or fields a consistent length. One easy example is in a database: if the table has to contain fields of 10 character each, and users are entering items in lengths of, say four, five and six characters, the corresponding number of pad characters are attached to each item, in order to create a uniform set of 10-character items.

In older systems, pad characters were often displayed on the screen as asterisks, pound signs, or other characters. This is still commonplace in database systems, where some other types of newer programs might show pad characters as empty spaces. In some cases, programmers have to use commands to let the database or system know that certain characters are pad characters, otherwise it interprets the pad characters as being actual parts of a string.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.