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Computing With Accents and Foreign Scripts

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Encoding on the Internet

8: Encoding and Fonts

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The Role of a Font

A font matches a number in encoding system to a text character which is displayed on a monitor or printed out. On a computer, the keyboard is the usual device that allows a user to input the numeric codes that are translated as text by the font.

Different fonts allow for different character styles to be displayed. Some example fonts:

Times New Roman
Georgia
Arial
Arial Black
Verdana

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"Properly Encoded" Fonts

A properly encoded font matches the encoding number with the character specified in the encoding scheme. A Latin-1 encoded font would always match character #65 to "A", Character #66 to "B", and so forth. In terms of a keyboard, using a Latin-1 font would mean you see "A" every time you hit the A key, even if the visual style differs from font to font.

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"Dingbat" or "Print" Fonts

Fonts which generate other types of characters and symbols or "dingbats" are those in which the character is mismatched with the encoding scheme. In terms of a keyboard, when you type the A key, you might see some other character. Some dingbat fonts include:

Wingdings (Wingdings)
Webdings (Webdings)
Zapf Dingbats (Zapf)

But beneath the different characters, the above are still plain Latin-1 Text. If the font is not installed on a user's computer, he or she will likely see ASCII letters.

Font Symbols and HTML Codes
Font Text Appearance HTML Code
Verdana A B C D E F <font face="Verdana">A B C D E F</font>
Georgia A B C D E F <font face="Times">A B C D E F</font>
Webdings
(different buildings)
A B C D E F <font face="Webdings">A B C D E F</font>

C.S.S. Version (still improperly encoded)
<span style="font-family: Webdings ">
a b c d e f</span>
Wingdings
(astrological symbols)
a b c d e f <font face="Wingdings">a b c d e f </font>
Zapf Dingbats
(snowflakes)
a b c d e f <font face="Zapf Dingbats">a b c d e f </font>

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Older Foreign Language Fonts

Some older foreign language fonts like the old Symbol font (for Greek) are actually dingbat fonts. A Greek text written in Symbol would not be encoded as Greek, but as Roman alphabet text.

If you do NOT have to "switch keyboards" or use or a special word processor, then a foreign language font is likely NOT properly encoded.

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Jun-2013 12:41:29 EDT