Unicode is intended to be a universal character set for describing all the characters required for written text incorporating all writing systems, technical symbols and punctuation.


Unicode assigns each character a code point to act as a unique reference:

  • U+0041 A
  • U+0042 B
  • U+0043 C
  • ...
  • U+039B Λ
  • U+039C Μ

Unicode Transformation Formats

UTFs describe how to encode code points as byte representations. The most common forms are UTF-8 (which encodes code points as a sequence of one, two, three or four bytes) and UTF-16 (which encodes code points as two or four bytes).

Code Point          UTF-8           UTF-16 (big-endian)
U+0041              41              00 41
U+0042              42              00 42
U+0043              43              00 43
U+039B              CE 9B           03 9B
U+039C              CE 9C           03 9C


The Unicode Consortium also defines standards for sorting algorithms, rules for capitalization, character normalization and other locale-sensitive character operations.

Identifying Characters