Oracle: see charset

If humans use different alphabets (Latin, Cyrillic, Arabic…), computers also communicate with different ways of writing. The oldest character encodings are the international code of maritime signals or the Morse alphabet (1838) but the machines rather use the American standard ASCII, the Standard Unicode UTF or other ISO characters. For information, the UTF-8 encoding is used by more than 90% of websites in the world, making it a standard for the exchange of information.

Like any computer system, the Oracle Database database server also uses character sets. These can be chosen at the DBMS level or an encoding can be applied to each database. This tutorial explains how see the character set (characterset) used by an Oracle Database server: WE8ISO8859P15, AL32UTF8, AL16UTF16…

This parameter is configured during the installation of Oracle Database:

Database Oracle character set caracherset

You can also modify the character set of a database during an export / import but beware of corruption and loss of data.

See charset used in Oracle Database

1. Open a SQL*Plus console or Windows Command Prompt and connect to sqlplus.

2. Copy / paste the following command:

select * from nls_database_parameters;

3. The result indicates the Character set used on the line NLS_CHARACTERSET :

  • AL32UTF8 for CESU-8, a variant character encoding of UTF-8 since Oracle 9

Oracle character set AL32UTF8 character set

  • WE8ISO8859P15 for ISO/IEC 8859-15, the 8-bit numeric code containing the characters of the Latin alphabet

Oracle character set WE8ISO8859P15 character set

  • AL16UTF16a variant of UTF-8

Oracle character set AL16UTF16 character set