Unicode, formally The Unicode Standard[note 1][note 2] is an information technology standard for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. The standard, which is maintained by the Unicode Consortium, defines 144,697 characters[3][4] covering 159 modern and historic scripts, as well as symbols, emoji, and non-visual control and formatting codes.

Logo of the Unicode Consortium
Alias(es)Universal Coded Character Set (UCS, ISO/IEC 10646)
StandardUnicode Standard
Encoding formats
Preceded byISO/IEC 8859, various others

Unicode's success at unifying character sets has led to its widespread and predominant use in the internationalization and localization of computer software. The standard has been implemented in many recent technologies, including modern operating systems, XML, and most modern programming languages.

The Unicode character repertoire is synchronized with ISO/IEC 10646, each being code-for-code identical with the other. The Unicode Standard, however, includes more than just the base code. Alongside the character encodings, the Consortium's official publication includes a wide variety of details about the scripts and how to display them: normalization rules, decomposition, collation, rendering, and bidirectional text display order for multilingual texts, and so on.[5] The Standard also includes reference data files and visual charts to help developers and designers correctly implement the repertoire.

Unicode can be stored using several different encodings, which translate the character codes into sequences of bytes. The Unicode standard defines three and several other encodings exist, all in practice variable-length encodings. The most common encodings are the ASCII-compatible UTF-8, the obsolete UCS-2, the UCS-2-compatible UTF-16, and GB18030 which is not an official Unicode standard but is used in China and implements Unicode fully.

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