10.1.3 Specifying Character Sets and Collations

10.1.3.1 Server Character Set and Collation
10.1.3.2 Database Character Set and Collation
10.1.3.3 Table Character Set and Collation
10.1.3.4 Column Character Set and Collation
10.1.3.5 Character String Literal Character Set and Collation
10.1.3.6 National Character Set
10.1.3.7 Examples of Character Set and Collation Assignment
10.1.3.8 Compatibility with Other DBMSs

There are default settings for character sets and collations at four levels: server, database, table, and column. The description in the following sections may appear complex, but it has been found in practice that multiple-level defaulting leads to natural and obvious results.

CHARACTER SET is used in clauses that specify a character set. CHARSET can be used as a synonym for CHARACTER SET.

Character set issues affect not only data storage, but also communication between client programs and the MySQL server. If you want the client program to communicate with the server using a character set different from the default, you'll need to indicate which one. For example, to use the utf8 Unicode character set, issue this statement after connecting to the server:

SET NAMES 'utf8';

For more information about character set-related issues in client/server communication, see Section 10.1.4, “Connection Character Sets and Collations”.