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10.3.5. Character String Literal Character Set and Collation

Every character string literal has a character set and a collation.

A character string literal may have an optional character set introducer and COLLATE clause:

[_charset_name]'string' [COLLATE collation_name]


SELECT 'string';
SELECT _latin1'string';
SELECT _latin1'string' COLLATE latin1_danish_ci;

For the simple statement SELECT 'string', the string has the character set and collation defined by the character_set_connection and collation_connection system variables.

The _charset_name expression is formally called an introducer. It tells the parser, “the string that is about to follow uses character set X.” Because this has confused people in the past, we emphasize that an introducer does not cause any conversion; it is strictly a signal that does not change the string's value. An introducer is also legal before standard hex literal and numeric hex literal notation (x'literal' and 0xnnnn), and before ? (parameter substitution when using prepared statements within a programming language interface).


SELECT _latin1 x'AABBCC';
SELECT _latin1 0xAABBCC;
SELECT _latin1 ?;

MySQL determines a literal's character set and collation in the following manner:

  • If both _X and COLLATE Y were specified, then character set X and collation Y are used.

  • If _X is specified but COLLATE is not specified, then character set X and its default collation are used.

  • Otherwise, the character set and collation given by the character_set_connection and collation_connection system variables are used.


  • A string with latin1 character set and latin1_german1_ci collation:

    SELECT _latin1'Müller' COLLATE latin1_german1_ci;
  • A string with latin1 character set and its default collation (that is, latin1_swedish_ci):

    SELECT _latin1'Müller';
  • A string with the connection default character set and collation:

    SELECT 'Müller';

Character set introducers and the COLLATE clause are implemented according to standard SQL specifications.

  Published under the terms of the GNU General Public License Design by Interspire