Using Special Characters in Strings

When a string is being created or displayed, its text must be enclosed within double quotation marks to indicate the beginning and end of the string. These quotation marks are not displayed, which brings up a good question: What if you want to display double quotation marks? To display them, Java has created a special code that can be put into a string: \". Whenever this code is encountered in a string, it is replaced with a double quotation mark. For example, examine the following:

System.out.println("Jane Campion directed \"The Piano\" in 1993.");

This code is displayed as the following:

Jane Campion directed "The Piano" in 1993.

You can insert several special characters into a string in this manner. The following list shows these special characters; note that each is preceded by a backslash (\).

Special characters



Single quotation mark


Double quotation mark








Carriage return





The newline character causes the text following the newline character to be displayed at the beginning of the next line. Look at this example:

System.out.println("Music by\nMichael Nyman");

This statement would be displayed as the following:

Music by Michael Nyman