Character Encoding

What Does Character Encoding Mean?

Character encoding is the process of representing individual characters using a corresponding encoding system made up of other symbols and types of data. Character coding is used for many different purposes.


Character encoding is also known as a character set or character map.

Techopedia Explains Character Encoding

Early examples of character encoding involved different types of cryptography, where governments sought to protect internal data. Other examples include the use of braille for the blind, and different types of industrial signals used in transportation and other fields.

With the advance of new technologies, character encoding became a functional way to preserve the integrity of messages. Early examples included Morse code in telegraph systems. Another type of character encoding corresponded with modern computing — these types of character codes or character sets are now represented by the ANSI or ASCII sets of characters that give international letters and symbols numerical codes.

The modern use of character encoding is done according to specific computer design principles. One of these is that computers do not recognize linguistic text characters as such, but use them as data types. These data types are stored in binary at the machine level, as sets of ones and zeros. That is why character coding is completely necessary in any kind of modern computing, part of the basis for the memory and input/output designs that have become so sophisticated in modern messaging technologies.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…