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Description of a scheme for storing [Unicode] code points in some unit of storage. In general, any particular code point may require multiple units of storage to express it. A particular [UTF] scheme is referenced by accompanying the acronym with the unit's number of bits. An example, and the most common scheme in practice, is [UTF-8], which has a number of important advantages over all other [UTF] schemes.
[UTF] schemes are used because as of this writing, the full range of [Unicode] code points is 0x00000-0x10FFFF and requires a minimum of 24 bits to express (in practice, 32 bits are used instead), most of which are never used in most text. [UTF] schemes thus provide a highly specialized form of efficient compression that still keeps the resultant text easily processible.