Introducing 7-segment & 16-segment displays & internal structures.

Seven-segment display, sixteen-segment display product

  Do you find it confusing that a seven-segment display and a sixteen-segment display are referred to by different names in the industry? This article aims to alleviate your confusion by organizing the common industry names and providing explanations. It also introduces the internal structure of both the seven-segment display and the sixteen-segment display, allowing you to quickly understand their specifications.

Which LED displays can be used to show Arabic numerals and English letters?

  The most common LED display for Arabic numerals is the7-segment display,. Additionally, the 16-segment display can show both Arabic numerals and upper and lower case English letters. This article provides detailed information about 7-segment and 16-segment displays.

  Furthermore, dot matrix displays utilize dots to display pixelated patterns(Pixel Art), including pixelated Arabic numerals and English letters. However, the discussion of dot matrix displays will be saved for a separate article.

  This article focuses on seven-segment displays, fourteen-segment displays, and sixteen-segment displays that can display numbers and English letters.

Why are they called seven-segment displays, fourteen-segment displays, and sixteen-segment displays?

  Originally, these displays were named based on the number of emitting areas, also known as segments or sections. For instance, a seven-segment display (7-Segment Display) consists of seven emitting areas that form one character. Similarly, fourteen-segment displays (14-Segment Display) and sixteen-segment displays (16-Segment Display) follow the same naming convention.

  It’s worth mentioning that most displays have a circular emitting area at the bottom right, commonly referred to as the DP Point. This point is often used as a decimal separatort (Decimal Separator/Decimal Mark), or a thousand-bit separator symbol. The presence or number of DP Points doesn’t affect the naming of the display. In the example image below, you can see two products where the number of points doesn’t impact the naming. The left one is called a Seven-Segment Display, while the right one is called a Sixteen-Segment Display.

A nickname for a seven-segment display, a fourteen-segment display, and a sixteen-segment display

Before discussing the internal construction of these three types of displays, it’s important to note that the industry uses different names for them. However, despite the different names, they refer to the same types of displays. Let’s explore each one in detail:

The nickname for a seven-segment display

  1. Seven-segment display:
    • Often referred to as “digital displays” due to their common usage for displaying Arabic numerals.
    • Some people also call it the “eight-word display” or simply “8 word” because when all seven segments are lit up, it resembles the numeral “8”.
    • In Chinese, simplified characters are commonly used, and the display is often referred to as “tubes,” “digital,” and “dash.” This leads to various names like “digital tube,” “seven digital tube,” “seven tube,” “eight-word tube,” and “8-word displays.”
    • The use of simplified characters and their conversion to traditional forms can further add to the confusion, resulting in names like “digital tubes,” “seven-segment digital tubes,” “seven-segment tubes,” “8 eight-word tubes,” and “8 eight-word displays.”

The nickname of a fourteen-segment display and a sixteen-segment display

  Fourteen-segment displays and sixteen-segment displays are variations of seven-segment displays. These displays have additional segments that allow them to show both uppercase and lowercase English letters. They are commonly referred to as “alphanumeric displays” (Alphanumeric Display) due to their ability to display both letters and numbers. Additionally, in Chinese-speaking countries, these displays are often called “米meter-word displays” because their appearance resembles the Chinese character “米” (meter). It’s important to note that these terms can be used interchangeably for both 14-segment displays and 16-segment displays, leading to some confusion in their naming conventions.

Compare 2.2″ Single Alphanumeric 16-Segment THT LED Display  with 中文字「米」

The internal structure of seven-segment displays, fourteen-segment displays, and sixteen-segment displays

The internal structure of seven-segment displays, fourteen-segment displays, and sixteen-segment displays is similar, with slight differences in the naming conventions for the internal segments. Let’s examine examples of seven-segment displays and sixteen-segment displays.

Seven-segment display and internal structure – take OPS-S5620 (1) SB as example:

In the case of OPS-S5620(1)SB , the internal structure have three parts :

  1. The light emitting diode LED
  2. PCB (connecting circuits and LEDs)
  3. Packing method (commonly surface mount assembly SMD (Surface Mount Device), and the through-hole element THT (Through-Hole Tech
OPS-S5620(1)SB  The appearance diagram and the lighting diagram, as well as the common cathode and the common anode two circuit diagrams
  1. LED: Each light-emitting area of the display contains at least one LED. A seven-segment display requires a minimum of eight LEDs to fully represent numbers. The inner segments are named clockwise, and there is a DP point (Data point) in the lower right corner.
  2. Connectivity: Seven-segment displays are typically assembled on the motherboard using either Surface Mount Device (SMD) or Through-Hole Tech (THT). Common Anode and Common Cathode are the most commonly used connection methods in the industry. Different product models indicate different circuit connection methods. OPS-S5620SB is a Common Anode model, while OPS-S5621SB is a Common Cathode model.
  3. Packaging: The external pins of the display correspond to the numbers on the schematic. To properly drive the seven-segment display, it is essential to refer to the product’s DATASHEET for detailed confirmation. For information on correctly driving a seven-segment display, please refer to the previous article on “How to design a series resistance for a seven-segment display?”

Internal structure of the sixteen-segment display – take the OPD-AS5010 (1) LR as an example

The appearance diagram and the lighting diagram of OPD-AS5010(1)LR , as well as the common cathode and the common anode two circuit diagrams

Appearance diagram and lighting diagram: The appearance and lighting diagrams of OPD-AS5010(1)LR are provided, along with the circuit diagrams for common cathode and common anode configurations.

  1. Split segments: Some segments from the original seven-segment display are split into two segments, represented as A1/A2, D1/D2, and G1/G2.
  2. Internal segments: The segments of the sixteen-segment display are defined in clockwise order for sections (H-L).


  This article provides an overview of the common seven-segment displays, fourteen-segment displays, and sixteen-segment displays used in the industry. It explains their meanings and briefly discusses their internal structures. The goal is to help readers quickly understand the specifications of these displays.

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