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Any sequence of ASCII characters put together as one unit, is a string. So, the word the is a string. This sentence is a string. Even this entire paragraph is a string. In fact, you could consider the text of this entire book as one string.

Strings can be of any length and can contain any characters, numbers, punctuation, special characters (like !, #, and %), and even characters in natural languages besides English In addition, a string can contain special ASCII formatting characters like newline, tab, and the "bell" character. We will discuss special characters more later on. For now, we will begin our consideration of strings by considering how to insert literal strings into a Perl program.

To begin our discussion of strings in Perl, we will consider how to work with "string literals" in Perl. The word literal here refers to the fact that these are used when you want to type a string directly to Perl. This can be contrasted with storing a string in a variable.

Any string literal can be used as an expression. We will find this useful when we want to store string literals in variables. However, for now, we will simply consider the different types of string literals that one can make in Perl. Later, we will learn how to assign these string literals to variables (see Scalar Variables).