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Difference Between ANSI and UTF-8


ANSI and UTF-8 are two character encoding schemes that are widely used at one point in time or another. The main difference between them is use as UTF-8 has all but replaced ANSI as the encoding scheme of choice. UTF-8 was developed to create a more or less equivalent to ANSI but without the many disadvantages it had. Both UTF-8 and ANSI expand from the basic set of characters put forth by ASCII; so the two are basically equivalent when it comes to the first 127 characters.

The first disadvantage of ANSI is its use of a fixed byte to represent characters. In comparison, UTF-8 is more flexible as it is a multibyte encoding scheme; depending on the needs of the user, anywhere between 1 to 6 bytes can be used to represent a character. Because ANSI only uses one byte or 8 bits, it can only represent a maximum of 256 characters. This is nowhere near the 1,112,064 characters, control codes, and reserved slots of Unicode that can be fully represented within UTF-8. Using a multibyte encoding scheme makes it possible to accommodate all these code points yet manages to consume minimal memory. The first byte of UTF-8 matches ASCII exactly; hence, the most common characters only need a single byte.

In order to accommodate more characters, there were multiple ANSI pages created for different languages. You cannot therefore use certain characters at once if they do not belong to the same code page. It also requires that the program know beforehand which code page is being used or the incorrect characters would appear. UTF-8 doesn’t have any such problems since each character has its own distinct code point.

UTF-8 is superior in every way to ANSI. There is no reason to choose ANSI over UTF-8 in creating new applications as all computers can decode it. The only reason to be using ANSI is when you are forced to run an old application that you do not have any replacement for.


1.UTF-8 is a widely used encoding while ANSI is an obsolete encoding scheme
2.ANSI uses a single byte while UTF-8 is a multibyte encoding scheme
3.UTF-8 can represent a wide variety of characters while ANSI is pretty limited
4.UTF-8 code points are standardized while ANSI has many different versions

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  1. The article states “The first byte of UTF-8 matches ASCII exactly”. That is not correct. ASCII is a 7-bit code.

  2. Your information is wrong on several counts. I’m sorry, but a pontificating tone is not a substitute for creditability. UTF-8 is NOT superior to ANSI in all circumstances, and it is NOT obsolete! A great many text editors and computer systems produce ANSI because they only need to encode a 256 point character set which includes accented characters in code points above 127. The code point 196 in ANSI is still just one byte. In UTF-8, it’s two because we need to piss away tagging bits to variable encoding that will never occur.

    • yes, keep on using ANSI and forget about all other Asian and European characters, and one day you’ll find that you’ve lost connect with the world dumb ass

      • That’s the point. You would use ANSI when you were certain you wouldn’t ever need to encode more than 256 character points… Yes, plan ahead, but if you never need “Asian and European” characters, it’s wasteful.

        Giving a C# example. Saying to never use the smaller set “just in case” you need the larger one, is like saying never use byte (Int8) or short (Int16) just in case you need int (Int32). Or to never use uint (UInt32) in case you need a negative value. I mean, why use int (Int32) when you have long (Int64). These types still very practical, real world uses and exist for a reason. ANSI is no different.

      • That’s true. I stopped using UTF-8 and went with ANSI, being the dumb ass that I am. AND now find that the world has completely passed me by, has cast me body and soul into the 9th ring of the outer stratosphere, forever alone. If ONLY I had not decided to remain with the outdated ANSI.

  3. To jump on the bandwagon with Gary, I have a question. How are you going to make the claim that there are several versions of ANSI? That doesn’t make any sense. That’s what standards are all about. A unified vision of what something should be. And you say there are multiple versions of ANSI? Bizarre!!

  4. I could really use some help from someone who know exactly how to read this stuff.
    A computer programmer I am not. I am pretty sure I have a hacker but really am not quite sure what I am looking for.
    I really don’t have time for the rabbit holes so any help or leads to who can help would be great!

  5. ANSI isn’t a single standard, it is a standards organization. The acronym stands for “American National Standards Institute”.

    Lots of standards have ANSI origins and sponsorship.

  6. To whom it my concern

    I save a Excel sheet as a file text with fields separed with tabs. The file text codification was UTF-8.

    I used this text data fields to populate a a MySQL table and some portuguese characters look very weird;

    I change the text file codification ANSI, populate the MySQL table again and everything works well.

    • you may need to change the sql column type from varchar to nvarchar as nvarchar supports unicode and by inserting/loading utf8 data into a varchar is not suporting unicode

  7. Very interesting article. When I copy French text from the Web onto my phone (through “Jote Text Editor”) and then read the saved file on my PC (with WordPad) the special characters get scrambled. I know it’s a matter of setting the open, save and end line encoding character sets, but I don’t know how to twiddle it.Could you help me?

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