Understanding the Python ord() Function: A Comprehensive Guide

In this tutorial, we will delve into one of Python’s built-in functions, the ord() function. This function is a simple yet powerful tool in Python programming that can be used to convert a character into its corresponding Unicode integer.

What is the ord() Function?

The ord() function in Python takes a string argument of a single Unicode character and returns its corresponding Unicode code point, which is an integer.

# Example
print(ord('A'))  # Output: 65
print(ord('$'))  # Output: 36

This function is particularly useful when you need to work with characters’ ASCII values or manipulate text data at a more granular level.

Syntax of ord() Function

The syntax for using the ord() function is straightforward:


Note that the ‘character’ must be a single Unicode character. If you try to pass more than one character or an empty string, Python will raise a TypeError.

A Practical Example of Using ord()

To illustrate how we can use the ord() function in real-world scenarios, let’s consider an example where we want to encrypt a message by shifting each letter by two places. Here’s how we could do it:

def shift_characters(message):
    encrypted_message = ""
    for char in message:
        if char.isalpha():
            unicode_value = ord(char)
            new_unicode_value = unicode_value + 2
            new_character = chr(new_unicode_value)
            encrypted_message += new_character
            encrypted_message += char
    return encrypted_message

print(shift_characters("Hello, World!"))  # Output: "Jgnnq, Yqtnf!"

In this example, we used the ord() function to get the Unicode value of each character and then added 2 to it. We then converted it back to a character using Python’s chr() function.


The Python ord() function is a simple yet powerful tool for working with Unicode characters. It allows you to convert any single character into its corresponding Unicode integer, enabling more granular control over text data manipulation.

We hope this tutorial has helped you understand how to use the ord() function in Python effectively!

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