The most basic and indivisible unit of the COBOL language is the character. The IBM COBOL character set includes the letters of the alphabet, digits, and special characters. The complete set of characters that form the IBM COBOL character set is shown in Table 1.
The basic IBM COBOL language is restricted to the character set shown in Table 1, but the content of nonnumeric literals, comment lines, comment entries, and data can include any of the characters from the character set of the computer.
Individual characters are joined to form character-strings, separators, and text words.
A character-string is a character or a sequence of contiguous characters that forms a COBOL word, a literal, a PICTURE character-string, or a comment-entry. A character-string is delimited by separators.
A separator is a string of one or two contiguous characters used to delimit character strings. Separators are described in detail under "Separators" in topic 1.1.5.
A text word is a character or a sequence of contiguous characters between character positions 8 and 72 inclusive on a line in a COBOL library, source program, or in pseudo-text. For more information on pseudo-text, see "Pseudo-Text" in topic 220.127.116.11.
|Table 1. Characters--Meanings|
Minus sign or Hyphen
Slant, Solidus, Stroke, or Slash
Decimal point or Period
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