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char and varchar

SQL Server 2000

Fixed-length (char) or variable-length (varchar) character data types.

char[(n)]

Fixed-length non-Unicode character data with length of n bytes. n must be a value from 1 through 8,000. Storage size is n bytes. The SQL-92 synonym for char is character.

varchar[(n)]

Variable-length non-Unicode character data with length of n bytes. n must be a value from 1 through 8,000. Storage size is the actual length in bytes of the data entered, not n bytes. The data entered can be 0 characters in length. The SQL-92 synonyms for varchar are char varying or character varying.

Remarks

When n is not specified in a data definition or variable declaration statement, the default length is 1. When n is not specified with the CAST function, the default length is 30.

Objects using char or varchar are assigned the default collation of the database, unless a specific collation is assigned using the COLLATE clause. The collation controls the code page used to store the character data.

Sites supporting multiple languages should consider using the Unicode nchar or nvarchar data types to minimize character conversion issues. If you use char or varchar:

  • Use char when the data values in a column are expected to be consistently close to the same size.

  • Use varchar when the data values in a column are expected to vary considerably in size.

If SET ANSI_PADDING is OFF when CREATE TABLE or ALTER TABLE is executed, a char column defined as NULL is handled as varchar.

When the collation code page uses double-byte characters, the storage size is still n bytes. Depending on the character string, the storage size of n bytes may be less than n characters.

See Also

CAST and CONVERT

COLLATE

Collations

Data Type Conversion

Data Types

sp_dbcmptlevel

Specifying Collations

Using char and varchar Data

Using Unicode Data

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