Teaching and Learning with Technology

Computing With Accents and Foreign Scripts

Skip Menu

ASCII Substitution

This is rarely used in Web pages, but still needed for e-mail and other documents.
Do not use in Web pages.

The Technique

Use an ASCII substitute for a non-Latin 1 glyph. For instance Welsh Web texts replace "circumflex w" (ŵ) with plain "w" or "w+". Similarly, many Old Irish scholars replace the "amperagus" (amperagus symbol-resembles number 7) symbol (Old Irish "&" symbol), with just the number seven (7).

Another typical substitution is to change long vowels (e.g. ā, ē,etc.) from being marked with a macron to being marked with an umlaut, circumflex or other accen mark which is better supported.

ASCII substitutions for phonetic symbols are very common - here's a standardized IPA phonetic alphabet ASCII substitution key.

Tools Needed

When to Use it

This is most common in e-mail communcation and rarely found on actual Web pages.

Only for a Roman alphabet script which includes characters not included in the Latin 1 (ISO-8859-1) encoding or the Latin 2 (ISO-8859-2) Central European encoding. Examples of such characters include letters with macrons (long marks), special letters in ancient languages and other similar examples.

Potential Pitfalls

  1. Search engines and screen readers will not be able to parse it. Put a keymap (e.g. "7" = "amperagus") on the home page explaining your substitutions.
  2. You should not use this technique to replace non ASCII-glyphs (e.g. é, ¢) available through Latin 1 HTML special entity codes.

Top of Page

Last Modified: Tuesday, 04-Jun-2013 12:41:32 EDT