ANSI character set

Definition of ANSI character set in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is ANSI character set?

An 8-bit character set used by Microsoft Windows 95 and Windows 98 that lets you represent up to 256 characters (numbered 0 through 255).

The ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Exchange) character set is a subset of the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) character set with characters numbered 32 through 126, each representing a displayable character. Some ANSI character codes cannot be displayed by Windows 95 or Windows 98 applications and are generally displayed as solid blocks on the output device.

ANSI uses a single byte to represent a character, in contrast to the Unicode standard supported by Windows NT, which uses 2 bytes to represent a character. For example, the ANSI character «A» would be represented in hexadecimal notation by the single byte 41h. The 256-character limit of ANSI supports only a few international characters, such as accented French and German vowels, but the 65,536-character limit of Unicode supports virtually every alphabet in the world. For example, the Unicode character «A» would be represented in hexadecimal notation by the two-byte string {41h, 00h}.

The following table shows which Windows environments support ANSI and Unicode for character encoding.

Windows Environments and Character Encoding


16-bit Windows object libraries
Windows 95 and Windows 98 API


32-bit Windows object libraries
Windows NT API
Automation in Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT