How to Get the First Character of a String

There are multiple methods of getting the first character of a string in JavaScript. Here are some easy methods presented below.

The charAt() Method

You should use the charAt() method at index 0 for selecting the first character of the string.

Javascript charAt method
let string = ""; let firstChar = string.charAt(0); // Returns "w" console.log(firstChar);

The substring() Method

You can also use the substring() method to get the first character:

Javascript substring method
const x = ''; console.log(x.substring(0, 1));
Avoid using the substr() method as it is considered a legacy function. Do not use it in your code as it is not a part of JavaScript and can be removed at any time. Use the substring() method, instead.

The slice() Method

However, if prefer to use substring, the slice() version is shorter:

Javascript slice method
const x = ''; console.log(x.slice(0, 1));

And to get the last character, you can simply use:

Javascript slice method
const x = ''; console.log(x.slice(-1));

The bracket notation [] Method

There is [] bracket notation method of rethrieving the first element:

Javascript [] bracket notation method
const string = ''; console.log(string[0]);

Unlike all above mentioned methods that return an empty string ('') for str = '' this method returns undefined:

Javascript empty string methods
var string = ""; console.log(string.slice(0, 1)); console.log(string.charAt(0)); console.log(string.substring(0, 1)); console.log(string[0]);

String Methods

There are 3 methods used to extract a part of a string:

  • slice(start, end) - extracts a part of a string and returns the extracted part in a new string.
  • substring(start, end) - similar to slice() only it cannot accept negative indexes.
  • substr() - substr() is similar to slice() except the second parameter specifies the length of the extracted part.

There are 2 methods of accessing an individual character in a string:

  • charAt() - returns the character at a specified index (position) in a string.
  • bracket notation [] - treas the string as an array-like object, where each individual character corresponds to a numerical index.