In order for Unicode text to behave consistently across browsers, the HTML Web page should include a meta tag in the <head> section declaring that the intended encoding of the page is Unicode (UTF-8).

See the template below.
Note: The <html> tag also includes a lang="en-us" (English, U.S.A.) attribute. See the Language Tag page for more information about language code in HTML.

Unicode Meta Tag

<html lang="en-us">
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″>


Content Management Systems

Many content or course management systems include this meta tag by default.

Result of Missing Encoding Tag

When the encoding tag is missing, the browser defaults to either the factory settings or sometimes the encoding of the last visited page. Either can result in display quirks for the user.

See the Browser Setup page for more information of potential user issues.

Older English Encoding Tags

Some older Web pages may set the the encoding to one of these Western encodings.

  • iso-8859-1
  • win-1252

In both cases, there may be issues with technical symbols and even punctuation symbols like smart quotes (“”) and long dashes (—).

Fortunately, this has become rarer in recent years. You can learn more about these older encodings in the Encoding Tutorial.

Older Non-English Encoding Tags

Similarly, older pages in languages like Chinese, Japanese, Russianor Arabic may use an older non-Unicode encoding. See the By Language pages and the Encoding Tutorial to learn more about these encodings and some problems that may be encountered.

An issue that has arisen in the past decade is that many newer mobile devices may only support Unicode since its the encoding that can theoretically support any language.

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