Unicode Tutorials - Herong's Tutorial Examples
Dr. Herong Yang, Version 5.10

UTF-16LE Encoding

This section provides a quick introduction of the UTF-16LE (Unicode Transformation Format - 16-bit Little Endian) encoding for Unicode character set. UTF-16LE is a variation of UTF-16.

UTF-16LE: A character encoding that maps code points of Unicode character set to a sequence of 2 bytes (16 bits). UTF-16LE stands for Unicode Transformation Format - 16-bit Little Endian.

Here is my understanding of the UTF-16LE specification. When UTF-16LE encoding is used to encode (serialize) Unicode characters into a byte stream for communication or storage, the resulting byte stream is identical to the Little-Endian with BOM Format of the UTF-16 encoding except that BOM is not prepended to the byte stream.

For example, these 3 Unicode characters, U+004D, U+0061 and U+10000 will be converted into 0x4D00610000D800DC when UTF-16LE is used.

When UTF-16LE encoding is used to decode (deserialize) a byte stream into Unicode characters, the entire stream will be divided into blocks of 2 bytes. Each block is converted to a 16-bit integer assuming the least significant byte first. Then process the converted integer stream as described below:

  • If a converted integer is not in the surrogate area, i.e. < 0xD800 or > 0xDFFF, it represent the code point of the decode character.
  • If a converted integer is in the surrogate area, i.e. >= 0xD800 and <= 0xDFFF, it represent the first surrogate of a surrogate pair. Take the next converted integer as the second surrogate and convert the surrogate pair to a Unicode character in the U+10000...0x10FFFF range.

Note that the use of BOM (Byte Order Mark) is not part of the UTF-16LE specification. So you should:

  • Not prepend BOM sequence, 0xFFFE, to the output byte stream when encoding.
  • Not treat initial sequence of 0xFFFE as BOM when decoding. If it exists, convert the initial 0xFFFE sequence as a Unicode character, the ZERO WIDTH NO-BREAK SPACE, U+FEFF, character.

Last update: 2009.

Table of Contents

 About This Book

 Character Sets and Encodings

 ASCII Character Set and Encoding

 GB2312 Character Set and Encoding

 GB18030 Character Set and Encoding

 JIS X0208 Character Set and Encodings

 Unicode Character Set

 UTF-8 (Unicode Transformation Format - 8-Bit)

UTF-16, UTF-16BE and UTF-16LE Encodings

 What Are Paired Surrogates?

 UTF-16 Encoding

 UTF-16BE Encoding

UTF-16LE Encoding

 UTF-32, UTF-32BE and UTF-32LE Encodings

 Java Language and Unicode Characters

 Character Encoding in Java

 Character Set Encoding Maps

 Encoding Conversion Programs for Encoded Text Files

 Using Notepad as a Unicode Text Editor

 Using Microsoft Word as a Unicode Text Editor

 Using Microsoft Excel as a Unicode Text Editor

 Unicode Code Point Blocks - Code Charts

 Outdated Tutorials

 References

 Printable Copy - PDF Version

Dr. Herong Yang, updated in 2012
UTF-16LE Encoding