Emacs Lisp: Character Type

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

In emacs lisp, character is represented as integer of the character's Codepoint .

For example, the char a in elisp is just 97, because its codepoint is 97.

Note: elisp “Character Type” is not technically a “type” of value in the sense of most programing languages, because there's no way to distinguish integer from char. There is no function that returns true/false on whether a value is a character type. (by comparison, there are stringp, integerp, listp, symbolp, etc.) Whether a integer is a character depends on programer's intention.

Char Syntax

Char can also be represented like this ?a for easy reading. ?a means the character a.

You can also represent char by (string-to-char "a")

(equal 97 ?a ) ;; t
(equal 97 (string-to-char "a")) ;; t

Find a Char's Codepoint

Useful Function on Character

(char-before) return the unicode codepoint (integer) of character before cursor.
(char-after) return the unicode codepoint (integer) of character after cursor.
(char-to-string CHAR) convert a CHAR (unicode codepoint (integer)) to string of single character.
(string-to-char STRING) return the first char in string. (return a integer that's the char's unicode codepoint)
(char-equal C1 C2). Return t if two characters match, optionally ignoring case. Case is ignored if case-fold-search is non-nil in the current buffer.

ASCII Control Chars and Backslash

Syntax of the form ?\char may have special meaning, depending what char is. They either represent a ASCII control character, or just the character char. For example, ?\n is the newline char. ?\\ is backslash char.

Here's a list of special meaning with the backslash:

?\n10line feedC-j
?\v11vertical tabC-k
?\r13carriage returnC-m
?\d127delete characterDEL

[see ASCII Characters]


(info "(elisp) Character Type")

(info "(elisp) Basic Char Syntax")

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