To display an HTML page correctly, the browser must know what character-set to use.
The character-set for the early world wide web was ASCII. ASCII supports the numbers from 0-9,
the uppercase and lowercase English alphabet, and some special characters.
Complete ASCII reference.
Since many countries use characters which are not a part of ASCII, the default character-set for
modern browsers is ISO-8859-1.
Complete ISO-8859-1 reference.
If a web page uses a different character-set than ISO-8859-1, it
should be specified in the <meta> tag.
It is the International Standards Organization (ISO) that defines the standard character-sets for
The different character-sets being used around the world are listed below:
Because the character-sets listed above are limited in size, and are not compatible in
multilingual environments, the Unicode Consortium developed the Unicode Standard.
The Unicode Standard covers all the characters, punctuations, and symbols in the world.
Unicode enables processing, storage and interchange of text data no matter what the platform, no
matter what the program, no matter what the language.
The Unicode Consortium develops the Unicode Standard. Their goal is to replace the existing
character-sets with its standard Unicode Transformation Format (UTF).
The Unicode Standard has become a success and is implemented in XML, Java, ECMAScript
operating systems and all modern browsers.
The Unicode Consortium cooperates with the leading standards development organizations, like ISO,
W3C, and ECMA.
Unicode can be implemented by different character-sets. The most commonly used encodings are
UTF-8 and UTF-16:
Hint: The first 256 characters of Unicode character-sets correspond to the 256
characters of ISO-8859-1.
Hint: All HTML 4 processors already support UTF-8, and all XHTML and XML processors
support UTF-8 and UTF-16
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