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Object.ToString Method

Updated: March 2011

Returns a string that represents the current object.

Namespace:  System
Assembly:  mscorlib (in mscorlib.dll)

Public Overridable Function ToString As String
Dim instance As Object 
Dim returnValue As String 

returnValue = instance.ToString()

Return Value

Type: System.String
A string that represents the current object.

ToString is the major formatting method in the .NET Framework. It converts an object to its string representation so that it is suitable for display. (For information about formatting support in the .NET Framework, see Formatting Overview.)

The default implementation of the ToString method returns the fully qualified name of the type of the Object, as the following example shows.

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim obj As New Object()
   End Sub 
End Module 
' The example displays the following output: 
'      System.Object

Because Object is the base class of all reference types in the .NET Framework, this behavior is inherited by reference types that do not override the ToString method. The following example illustrates this. It defines a class named Object1 that accepts the default implementation of all Object members. Its ToString method returns the object's fully qualified type name.

Imports Examples

Namespace Examples
   Public Class Object1
   End Class 
End Namespace 

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim obj1 As New Object1()
   End Sub 
End Module 
' The example displays the following output: 
'   Examples.Object1

Types commonly override the ToString method to return a string that represents the object instance. For example, the base types such as Char, Int32, and String provide ToString implementations that return the string form of the value that the object represents. The following example defines a class, Object2, that overrides the ToString method to return the type name along with its value.

Public Class Object2
   Private value As Object

   Public Sub New(value As Object)
      Me.value = value
   End Sub 

   Public Overrides Function ToString() As String 
      Return MyBase.ToString + ": " + value.ToString()
   End Function 
End Class 

Module Example
   Public Sub Main()
      Dim obj2 As New Object2("a"c)
   End Sub 
End Module 
' The example displays the following output: 
'       Object2: a

Notes to Implementers:

When you implement your own types, you should override the ToString method to return values that are meaningful for those types. Derived classes that require more control over formatting than ToString provides can implement the IFormattable interface. Its IFormattable.ToString(String, IFormatProvider) method enables you to define format strings that control formatting and to use an IFormatProvider object that can provide for culture-specific formatting.

Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP SP2, Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Starter Edition, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2000 SP4, Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 98, Windows CE, Windows Mobile for Smartphone, Windows Mobile for Pocket PC, Xbox 360, Zune

The .NET Framework and .NET Compact Framework do not support all versions of every platform. For a list of the supported versions, see .NET Framework System Requirements.

.NET Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 3.0, 2.0, 1.1, 1.0

.NET Compact Framework

Supported in: 3.5, 2.0, 1.0

XNA Framework

Supported in: 3.0, 2.0, 1.0




March 2011

Revised extensively.

Customer feedback.