- UCS characters 0x00000000 to 0x0000007f (the classic US-ASCII characters) are encoded simply as bytes 0x00 to 0x7f (ASCII compatibility). This means that files and strings which contain only 7-bit ASCII characters have the same encoding under both ASCII and UTF-8 .
- All UCS characters greater than 0x7f are encoded as a multibyte sequence consisting only of bytes in the range 0x80 to 0xfd, so no ASCII byte can appear as part of another character and there are no problems with, for example, '\0' or '/'.
- The lexicographic sorting order of UCS-4 strings is preserved.
- All possible 2^31 UCS codes can be encoded using UTF-8.
- The bytes 0xc0, 0xc1, 0xfe, and 0xff are never used in the UTF-8 encoding.
- The first byte of a multibyte sequence which represents a single non-ASCII UCS character is always in the range 0xc2 to 0xfd and indicates how long this multibyte sequence is. All further bytes in a multibyte sequence are in the range 0x80 to 0xbf. This allows easy resynchronization and makes the encoding stateless and robust against missing bytes.
- UTF-8 encoded UCS characters may be up to six bytes long, however the Unicode standard specifies no characters above 0x10ffff, so Unicode characters can be only up to four bytes long in UTF-8.
- 0x00000000 - 0x0000007F:
- 0x00000080 - 0x000007FF:
- 110xxxxx 10xxxxxx
- 0x00000800 - 0x0000FFFF:
- 1110xxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx
- 0x00010000 - 0x001FFFFF:
- 11110xxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx
- 0x00200000 - 0x03FFFFFF:
- 111110xx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx
- 0x04000000 - 0x7FFFFFFF:
- 1111110x 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx 10xxxxxx
11000010 10101001 = 0xc2 0xa9and character 0x2260 = 0010 0010 0110 0000 (the "not equal" symbol) is encoded as:
11100010 10001001 10100000 = 0xe2 0x89 0xa0
export LANG=en_GB.UTF-8in order to activate the UTF-8 support in applications. Application software that has to be aware of the used character encoding should always set the locale with for example
setlocale(LC_CTYPE, "")and programmers can then test the expression
strcmp(nl_langinfo(CODESET), "UTF-8") == 0to determine whether a UTF-8 locale has been selected and whether therefore all plaintext standard input and output, terminal communication, plaintext file content, filenames and environment variables are encoded in UTF-8. Programmers accustomed to single-byte encodings such as US-ASCII or ISO 8859 have to be aware that two assumptions made so far are no longer valid in UTF-8 locales. Firstly, a single byte does not necessarily correspond any more to a single character. Secondly, since modern terminal emulators in UTF-8 mode also support Chinese, Japanese, and Korean double-width characters as well as nonspacing combining characters, outputting a single character does not necessarily advance the cursor by one position as it did in ASCII. Library functions such as mbsrtowcs(3) and wcswidth(3) should be used today to count characters and cursor positions. The official ESC sequence to switch from an ISO 2022 encoding scheme (as used for instance by VT100 terminals) to UTF-8 is ESC % G ("\x1b%G"). The corresponding return sequence from UTF-8 to ISO 2022 is ESC % @ ("\x1b%@"). Other ISO 2022 sequences (such as for switching the G0 and G1 sets) are not applicable in UTF-8 mode.