Text files

Control characters

Not all the characters in a text file are things you can see when they are printed. Instead they indicate a different purpose.

Some common ones are shown here. You don’t need to remember them, but it helps you understand how text files work to realise these are just characters: they are non-printable characters. They have a number, but it doesn’t result in a symbol you can see (or the computer can print).

These are sometimes considered to be “invisible characters” (which includes space and tab).

code name abbreviation display notes
0 null NUL    
7 bell BEL ^G beep!
8 backspace BS ^H  
9 tab HT ^I horizontal tab (\t)
10 line feed LF ^J newline (\n)
11 vertical tab VT ^K  
12 form feed FF ^L next page
13 carriage return CR ^M newline (\r)
26 end of file EOF ^Z  
27 escape ESC ^[  

The display column here is not universal: by definition these characters are not displayed at all. But some programs represent them in this way, when indicating that they are there.