Home > Articles

Non-Token Input Elements

Now that you've seen the various types of tokens in Java, let's complete the discussion with a look at the only input elements in your source code that aren't classified as tokens. As was stated when tokens were defined previously, whitespace and comments are the two non-token element types.


Of some importance to most languages is the use of whitespace. Whitespace is any character that is used just to separate text—a space, tab, form feed, line feed, or carriage return.

In Java, whitespace can be inserted almost anywhere within an application's source code without affecting the meaning of the code to the compiler. The only place that whitespace cannot be used is within an identifier, such as a variable or class name. Put simply, the following two lines are not the same to a Java compiler:

int myInt;
int my  Int; // compiler error

Proper use of indentation, blank lines, and spaces in your source code makes your code easier to read and understand. Little or inconsistent use of whitespace makes your code harder to maintain than necessary. Take a look at the ever-popular HelloWorld application written with minimal use of whitespace:

public class HelloWorld{public static void main(String args
[ ]){System.out.println("Hello World!!");}}

Clearly, it is a little harder to determine what this application does or even if the code is correct. You should choose a consistent pattern of whitespace use and stick with it.


Comments are an important part of any language. Comments enable you to describe the purpose of your code, any assumptions it relies on, and the rationale behind its implementation approach. You should always comment the aspects of your code that aren't obvious, even if it's only for your own use later. When you do add comments, however, be certain to keep them up-to-date with changes to the surrounding code. Perhaps the only situation worse than maintaining code without comments is maintaining code with comments that are obsolete or just plain wrong.

Java supports three styles of comments:

  • Traditional (the type found in C)

  • C++ style

  • javadoc (a unique approach for Java class documentation)

Traditional Comments

A traditional comment is a C-style comment that begins with a slash-star (/*) and ends with a star-slash (*/). Take a look at Listing 3.4, which shows four traditional comments.

Listing 3.4 An Example Containing Four Traditional Comments

/* Set up the desired loan parameters
 * and call the method that computes
 * the monthly payment amount
int numPayments = 3 * 12;    /* 3 years of monthly payments */
double interestRate = 0.08 / 12; /* 8% annual interest paid monthly */
double payment = computePayment( interestRate, numPayments, 
   5000.0 /* hard code the loan amount for now */ );

As you can see, comments of this sort can span many lines or can be contained within a single line (outside a token). Traditional comments cannot be nested. Thus, if you try to nest them, the opening /* of the inner one is not detected by the compiler and the closing */ of the inner one ends the comment. The subsequent text, including the */ of the outer comment, is then interpreted as part of your source code and causes a compiler error. Listing 3.5 shows how this can become very confusing.

Listing 3.5 An Example of a Single Comment That Looks Like Two

/* This opens the comment
/* That looked like it opened another comment but it is the same one* This will close the entire comment                     */

Traditional comments are extremely useful when you are debugging your code. This style of comment makes it easy to quickly comment out blocks of code as you work to isolate the source of an error.

C++ Style Comments

The second style of comment begins with a slash-slash (//) and ends when the current source code line ends. These comments are especially useful for describing the intended meaning of a single line of code. Listing 3.6 demonstrates the use of this style of comment.

Listing 3.6 An Example Using C++ Style Comments

// entry point for the application
public static void main(String[ ] args) {
 if (args.length < 1) { // application requires a command-line argument
  System.out.println("<usage> java ClassName InputString");
  System.exit(-1); // exit the program
 String inputString = args[0]; // get command-line argument

javadoc Comments

The final style of comment in Java is a special type specifically intended for defining descriptions of your code that can be read by the javadoc tool (see Appendix B, "SDK Tools"). These comments look very much like traditional comments except that they begin with /** instead of /*. These comments have the properties of traditional comments, including the capability to span multiple lines. By using these comments in an appropriate manner, you can use javadoc to automatically create documentation pages similar to those of the Java API. Listing 3.7 shows a javadoc comment (see Appendix B for a description of the javadoc tags @param, @return, and @throws used in this example).

Listing 3.7 An Example of a javadoc Comment

 * This method computes the payment for a loan based on
 * the interest rate, the number of payment periods, and
 * the loan amount.
 * @param rate    The interest rate per payment period
 * @param numPayments The total number of payment periods
 * @param loanAmount The present value of the loan
 * @return      The computed payment amount
 * @throws InvalidLoanParameterException If one of the
 *      arguments is <= 0
public static double computePayment( double rate, int numPayments,
 double loanAmount ) throws InvalidLoanParameterException {
 // compute and return the payment amount

Caution - This style of comment should only be used for information that should be extracted by javadoc. Other use will produce confusing documentation of your classes.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020