Why is there no direct equivalent to zeros for chars? In most languages, strings are zero terminated so x=char(zeros(1,10)) may be a 10 element row vector in MATLAB's internal tables but will be perceived as a null string in most languages. Writing to a pre-allocated, but empty, char vector from a DLL or mex-file will usually crash MATLAB with a segmentation violation regardless of what numel returned in MATLAB before the call. Filling with non-zeros instead, e.g. blanks, avoids that. With short strings, my habit is to use '0123...'.