Literals in Java: A Complete Guide with Best Practices | ACTE

Literals in Java: A Complete Guide with Best Practices

Last updated on 04th Jun 2020, Blog, General

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What are Literals in Java?

They are used to represent the constant value. Literals are source code representation of a fixed value or the sequence of characters which represents the constant value that is to be stored in a variable.

There are five types of literals in Java.

  • Integer Literals
  • Boolean Literals
  • Character Literals
  • String Literals
  • Floating Point Literals

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    Integer Literals in Java

    There are four primitive data types present in integer literals, they are a byte, short, long, int and we can represent these in 4 ways:

    Decimal literals:

    Any number from 0-9 are allowed here.

    Ex: int a=100;

    Octal literals:

    Any number from 0-7 is allowed here, but the value should start from 0 only.

    Ex: int b=035;

    Hexa-decimal literals:

    Here the digit from 0-9 and characters from a-f are allowed. The value can be a combination of characters and digit. We can use both uppercase and lower-case characters here, for this it is not case-sensitive. This value should start from 0X or 0x.

    Ex: int c=0X238ce;

    Binary literals:

    It consists of only two-digit 0 and 1, but the value should start from 0b or 0B.

    Ex: int d=0B1101;

    See the following program.

    • public class Integer {
    •   public static void main(String args[]) {
    •     int a = 100; // decimal literals
    •     int b = 035; // octal literals
    •     int c = 0X238ce; // hexadecimal literals
    •     int d = 0B1101; // binary literals
    •     System.out.println(a);
    •     System.out.println(b);
    •     System.out.println(c);
    •     System.out.println(d);
    •   }
    • }

    See the following output.


    Floating-point literals

    Floating-point literals only contain decimal values with a fractional component. It consists of a double and floats data type.


    • double a=3.24343;
    • Float b=45.34f;

    See the following program.

    • public class Floating {
    •   public static void main(String[] args) {
    •     double a = 3.24343;
    •     float b = 45.34f;
    •     System.out.println(a);
    •     System.out.println(b);
    •   }
    • }

    See the following output.


    By default, every floating-point literal is of double type, and hence we cant assign directly to float variable. But we can specify floating-point literal as float type by suffixed with f or F. We can specify explicitly floating-point literal as double type by suffixed with d or D., and Of course, this convention is not required.

    Character Literals

    It is a 16-bit Unicode, and it is enclosed in single quotes whereas in the string is enclosed in double quote.


    • Char ch=’a’;
    • Char ch1=’#’;
    • Char ch2=’4’;

    For the char data types, we can define the literals in 4 ways:

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    Single quote

    We can specify literal to a char data type as a single character within a single quote.

    • char ch = ‘a’;

    Char literal as Integral literal

    We can define the char literal as an integral literal which represents the Unicode value of a character and those integral literals can be defined either in the Decimal, Octal, and Hexadecimal forms.

    • But the final allowed range is 0 to 65535.
    • char ch = 062;

    Unicode Representation

    We can define the char literals in Unicode representation ‘\uxxxx’. Here xxxx represents 4 hexadecimal numbers.

    • char ch = ‘\u0061’;
    • Here /u0061 represent a.

    Escape Sequence

    Every escape character can be specified as char literals.

    • char ch = ‘\n’;

    See the following program.

    • public class Test {
    •   public static void main(String[] args) {
    •     char ch1 = ‘a’;
    •     char ch2 = ‘#’;
    •     char ch3 = ‘4’;
    •     System.out.println(ch3);
    •     System.out.println(ch2);
    •     System.out.println(ch3);
    •   }
    • }

    See the output.


    String Literals

    They are the sequence of characters that are enclosed in double-quotes, and it can be a sentence too.

    Any sequence of the characters within the double quotes is treated as String literals.

    • String str1=” how are you?”;
    • String str2=” I’m good thanks!”;

    See the following program.

    • public class Test {
    •   public static void main(String[] args) {
    •     String str1 = “how are you?”;
    •     String str2 = ” I’m good thanks!”;
    •     System.out.println(str1);
    •     System.out.println(str2);
    •   }
    • }

    See the output:


    String literals may not contain unescaped newline or linefeed characters. However, the Java compiler will evaluate compile-time expressions.

    Boolean literals

    Only two values can be represented in Boolean literals, i.e. either true or false. These two values can be assigned to a variable. These true and false are case sensitive in java.


    • boolean flg1=” true”;
    •  boolean flg2=” false”;

    See the program of Boolean literals.

    • public class Boolean {
    •   public static void main(String args[]) {
    •     boolean flg1 = true;
    •     boolean flg2 = false;
    •     System.out.println(flg1);
    •     System.out.println(flg2);
    •   }
    • }

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    See the output:

    • When we are performing concatenation operations, then the values in brackets are concatenated first. Then the values are concatenated from left to right.
    • We should be careful when we are mixing character literals and integers in String concatenation operations, and this type of operation is known as Mixed Mode operation.

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