Type characters (Visual Basic)

In addition to specifying a data type in a declaration statement, you can force the data type of some programming elements with a type character. The type character must immediately follow the element, with no intervening characters of any kind.

The type character is not part of the name of the element. An element defined with a type character can be referenced without the type character.

Identifier type characters

Visual Basic supplies a set of identifier type characters that you can use in a declaration to specify the data type of a variable or constant. The following table shows the available identifier type characters with examples of usage.

Identifier type character Data type Example
% Integer Dim L%
& Long Dim M&
@ Decimal Const W@ = 37.5
! Single Dim Q!
# Double Dim X#
$ String Dim V$ = "Secret"

No identifier type characters exist for the Boolean, Byte, Char, Date, Object, SByte, Short, UInteger, ULong, or UShort data types, or for any composite data types such as arrays or structures.

In some cases, you can append the $ character to a Visual Basic function, for example Left$ instead of Left, to obtain a returned value of type String.

In all cases, the identifier type character must immediately follow the identifier name.

Literal type characters

A literal is a textual representation of a particular value of a data type.

Default literal types

The form of a literal as it appears in your code ordinarily determines its data type. The following table shows these default types.

Textual form of literal Default data type Example
Numeric, no fractional part Integer 2147483647
Numeric, no fractional part, too large for Integer Long 2147483648
Numeric, fractional part Double 1.2
Enclosed in double quotation marks String "A"
Enclosed within number signs Date #5/17/1993 9:32 AM#

Forced literal types

Visual Basic supplies a set of literal type characters, which you can use to force a literal to assume a data type other than the one its form indicates. You do this by appending the character to the end of the literal. The following table shows the available literal type characters with examples of usage.

Literal type character Data type Example
S Short I = 347S
I Integer J = 347I
L Long K = 347L
D Decimal X = 347D
F Single Y = 347F
R Double Z = 347R
US UShort L = 347US
UI UInteger M = 347UI
UL ULong N = 347UL
C Char Q = "."C

No literal type characters exist for the Boolean, Byte, Date, Object, SByte, or String data types, or for any composite data types such as arrays or structures.

Literals can also use the identifier type characters (%, &, @, !, #, $), as can variables, constants, and expressions. However, the literal type characters (S, I, L, D, F, R, C) can be used only with literals.

In all cases, the literal type character must immediately follow the literal value.

Hexadecimal, binary, and octal literals

The compiler normally interprets an integer literal to be in the decimal (base 10) number system. You can also define an integer literal as a hexadecimal (base 16) number with the &H prefix, as a binary (base 2) number with the &B prefix, and as an octal (base 8) number with the &O prefix. The digits that follow the prefix must be appropriate for the number system. The following table illustrates this.

Number base Prefix Valid digit values Example
Hexadecimal (base 16) &H 0-9 and A-F &HFFFF
Binary (base 2) 0B 0-1 &B01111100
Octal (base 8) &O 0-7 &O77

Starting in Visual Basic 2017, you can use the underscore character (_) as a group separator to enhance the readability of an integral literal. The following example uses the _ character to group a binary literal into 8-bit groups:

Dim number As Integer = &B00100010_11000101_11001111_11001101

You can follow a prefixed literal with a literal type character. The following example shows this.

Dim counter As Short = &H8000S
Dim flags As UShort = &H8000US

In the previous example, counter has the decimal value of -32768, and flags has the decimal value of +32768.

See Also

Data Types
Elementary Data Types
Value Types and Reference Types
Type Conversions in Visual Basic
Troubleshooting Data Types
Variable Declaration
Data Types