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About Mary Zheng

Mary Zheng
Mary has graduated from Mechanical Engineering department at ShangHai JiaoTong University. She also holds a Master degree in Computer Science from Webster University. During her studies she has been involved with a large number of projects ranging from programming and software engineering. She works as a senior Software Engineer in the telecommunications sector where she acts as a leader and works with others to design, implement, and monitor the software solution.

Java String charAt() Method with Example

1. Introduction

The java.lang.CharSequence interface provides read-only access to many different kinds of char sequence. It has provided a charAt method since version 1.4 to return the character value at the specified index. java.lang.String class implements java.lang.CharSequence. The string indexes start from zero to the string’s length() minus one.

Here is the method syntax:

char charAt(int index)

Parameters: index – the index of the char value to be returned.

Returns: the specified char value at the specified index. If the character value specified by the index is a surrogate, the surrogate value is returned.

Throws: IndexOutOfBoundsException if the index value is negative, equals to, or greater than the length() value.

2. Technologies Used

The example code in this article was built and run using:

  • Java 11
  • Eclipse Oxygen

3. Application

In this step, I will create a stand-alone Java application which defines a test string and prints out its character value at the index. I will demonstrate the exception when the index value is out of range as well as the string includes a surrogate value.

  • loopString_charAt – create a for loop, starts from zero and ends with the orgString.length() minus one. Print out its char value for all the indexes.
  • charAt_exception – create two try..catch statements to show the IndexOutOfBoundException.
  • chatAt_surrogate – demonstrate a String with UTF-16 encoding with high-low surrogate pair values.
  • main – Invokes loopString_charAt, loopString_surrogate, and charAc_exception.


package jcg.zheng.demo;

import java.io.UnsupportedEncodingException;

public class DemoApp {

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        String testString = "Mary Rocks!";
        System.out.println("Test String: " + testString);

    private static void loopString_charAt(String orgString) {
        for (int pos = 0; pos < orgString.length(); ++pos) {
            char c = orgString.charAt(pos);
            System.out.println(orgString + "[" + pos + "]=" + c);

    private static void charAt_exception(String orgString) {
        try {
        } catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {

        try {
        } catch (IndexOutOfBoundsException e) {

    private static void charAt_surrogate() {

        byte[] data = { 0, 0x41, // A
            (byte) 0xD8, 1, // High surrogate
            (byte) 0xDC, 2, // Low surrogate
            0, 0x42, // B
            (byte) 0xd800, (byte) 0xdfff,

        try {
            String text = new String(data, "UTF-16");
            System.out.println("Origal String with surrogate, its length=" + text.length());
            System.out.println(text.charAt(0) + " " + text.codePointAt(0));
            System.out.println(text.charAt(1) + " " + text.codePointAt(1));
            System.out.println(text.charAt(2) + " " + text.codePointAt(2));
            System.out.println(text.charAt(3) + " " + text.codePointAt(3));
            System.out.println(text.charAt(4) + " " + text.codePointAt(4));
        } catch (UnsupportedEncodingException e) {



4. Demo

In Eclipse, right-click DemoApp and click Run As Java Application. Capture the output here.


Test String: Mary Rocks!
Mary Rocks![0]=M
Mary Rocks![1]=a
Mary Rocks![2]=r
Mary Rocks![3]=y
Mary Rocks![4]= 
Mary Rocks![5]=R
Mary Rocks![6]=o
Mary Rocks![7]=c
Mary Rocks![8]=k
Mary Rocks![9]=s
Mary Rocks![10]=!
String index out of range: -1
String index out of range: 11
Origal String with surrogate, its length=5
A 65
? 66562
? 56322
B 66
ÿ 255

5. Java String charAt() method – Summary

In this example, I demonstrated how to use the charAt method to return a character value at the string’s specified index in three ways:

  • When the parameter index is within the given string’s range.
  • When the parameter index is out of range of the giving string value.
  • When String has a surrogate value.

6. Download the Source Code

This example consists of a project which uses the charAt method to return String’s character value at a specified index.

You can download the full source code of this example here: Java String charAt() method with Example
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Mary ZhengCristian Daniel Ortiz Cuellar Recent comment authors
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Cristian Daniel Ortiz Cuellar
Cristian Daniel Ortiz Cuellar

Hi Mary how ya doing can you please explain your byte array set up? i mean { 0, 0x41, // A (byte) 0xD8, 1, // High surrogate (byte) 0xDC, 2, // Low surrogate 0, 0x42, // B (byte) 0xd800, (byte) 0xdfff, }; Why in 2 bytes x character? is this mandatory for utf-16 i think? and in the surrogate what 1,2 means and leading zero in the A,B and the setup for the last character? please.