Most modern Web sites are designed to display all possible characters and most Web platforms or developers can create a properly encoded page. However a broswer could still encounter an unproperly coded page. In that case, you may need to adjust some settings.

Encoding Error Gibberish

A well-formed Web page needs to declare an encoding such as Unicode so that the broswer can match the character numbers to a character. However, there can be some errors which lead to incorrect displays.

Misencoded Punctuation

A more subtle error is that an English language page may not correctly display some symbols such as curly quotation marks, curly apostrophes and long hyphens. These are actually characters which fall outside of English ASCII encoding.

Page says It's a nifty quote hyphen darn it, but punctuation is replaced by A circumflex Euro sign
The page should say "But it’s such a "nifty quote" – Darn it!"

If a writer or developer accidentally inserts these characters from an Word file, they may be encoded as win‑1252 or and not display properly. You may need to change the encoding to Unicode or Western depending on the error.

Unencoded Pages

The image below was taken from a Japanese site displaying Roman character gibberish. The site developer intended this page for monolingual Japanese speakers in Japan and so never declared an encoding.

Title of page is µ Ú 227 Æ Ú
An improperly encoded Japanese site seen on a browser with Western settings.

Unfortunately, an individual who has visited an English language page might have their browsers still set to a Western setting and would see this. They would need to adjust their viewing settings to Unicode or an appropriate Japanese encoding.

Adjusting Encoding

The solution for both errors above is to manually adjust the browser’s encoding.

Note: Instructions for specific browsers may change depending on version.

Change Encoding (Windows Browsers)

Internet Explorer

  1. Right click on a page and select Encoding to see the current setting.
  2. Select More to change settings.

Google Chrome

  1. Click the "hamburger" menu icon in the upper right, then
  2. Select More Tools : Encoding.

Firefox (menu must be activated first)

  1. Click the "hamburger" menu icon in the upper right, then click Customize.
  2. Drag the Character Encoding (æ) icon to the area to the right of the search window, then click Exit Customize.
  3. On a Web bage, click the Character Encoding icon to view encoding options.

Note: in older versions of Firefox, this was available in the View menu.

Change Encoding (Mactintosh)

In most Macintosh browsers, the Encoding option is under the View menu of the browser.

Font Preferences

In all browsers, display of any scripts depends on having an appropriately encoded font for that script installed on your device. Most major scripts are covered by default, but you can install a font on a Windows or Mac as needed.

Some browsers (e.g. Firefox, Internet Explorer) also allow you to change default fonts for some scripts in the Preferences pane. Others like Google Chrome and Safari use default font setting.


  1. Click the "hamburger" menu icon in the upper right, then click Preferences (gear icon).
  2. Click the option for Content. Change Fonts and Colors for each script as needed.

Internet Explorer

  1. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select Internet options.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. Click the Font button at the bottom and adjust settings for each script as needed.

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