How to ensure US browsers can see a Scandinavian char in a blog post?
February 4, 2013 10:16 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is a blogger in the US. We're thinking about a blog post in which he would use the Scandinavian letter Ä a few times ( & a u m l ; ). My concern is whether his primarily American readers will see the letter on their screen, or something entirely different.

My limited understanding is that in the past you had to define in the header that a UTF charset was being used on whatever page that got displayed on. Is this still mandatory today? I would prefer it if we didn't have to mess with his site's header data just for the purpose of this one post. I don't have any access to those files.

I am Finnish myself so obviously I can see it just fine on my system.
posted by Unhyper to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The A with the umlaut displays fine on this American's browser. Is that what you're asking?
posted by dfriedman at 10:20 AM on February 4, 2013

Best answer: It should display fine if you are using "& a u m l ;" or "& A u m l ;" - as long as you are using a standard font. If you're using a special font on your site (through use of embedded web fonts) that does not have extended characters, your readers may see something different...but chances are you'll be fine.
posted by trivia genius at 10:26 AM on February 4, 2013

Best answer: Ä/ä are displayed just fine in any character set that would conceivably be used for English on any computer made in the past decade. You only start to run into problems if you try to use letters from eastern Europe like ő or č, and even then, only with old or badly misconfigured computers.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2013

Response by poster: Excellent! Thank you!
posted by Unhyper at 10:49 AM on February 4, 2013

If he's using, say, a blog, I think those all use charset="UTF-8". In fact, I think most blogging services out there do. Even if all they used was ye olde standard ISO-8859-1 (aka Latin Alphabet) you are pretty good to go. The only characters that might have an issue are, it seems, Finnish use of Š, š, Ž, and ž which need ISO-8859-15 (or other charset).
posted by Fortran at 10:49 AM on February 4, 2013

It comes to a matter of if the font you are using is: 1. includes basic latin unicode and; 2. installed on the user's computer. Unless you're embedding a really terrible free font from or some such, you should be good on point 1.

Here is the most recent font survey of serif fonts with basic latin support, and sans serif fonts with basic latin support.
posted by fontophilic at 11:52 AM on February 4, 2013

You can use the entities (Ä and so on) regardless of the charset in the header and they'll work in any browser from, I don't know, the last fifteen years (possibly excepting MSIE). The only time you need a charset parameter in the header is if you're including literal characters from outside the basic ASCII repertoire— that is, actually putting "Ä" in the file instead of "Ä"— in which case, what matters is that the charset in the header is the same as the charset you used to save the file. (However, lots of blog hosts have really, amazingly broken charset handling, so it might be easier to just use the entities.)
posted by hattifattener at 11:39 PM on February 4, 2013

Every webpage you ever make should use utf-8 as the charset.
posted by w0mbat at 11:11 PM on February 5, 2013

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