What's happening with this degree symbol?
July 15, 2013 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at this web page using Windows 7 and the degree symbol (in the phrase "are referenced to 60 ..." for example) won't render correctly.

On Firefox the degree symbol shows up as � which right now to me looks like a black diamond with a question mark in the middle. Same deal if I look at the web page source.

On Internet Exploder 10 the symbol shows up as a hollow square (as I write this and paste into Firefox, it looks like the hollow diamond). BUT, when I look at the web page source, it shows up as a proper degree symbol: °

I installed a couple of unicode fonts as suggested by the comments here for what I thought was a related concern, but they didn't help.

Why does this happen, and how do I fix this?
posted by exogenous to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Change the encoding default from utf-8 to ISO-8859-1.
posted by aroberge at 4:20 PM on July 15, 2013

Best answer: There are a couple things that could be causing this. The first is if the page author just pasted a degree symbol into the code of the page, instead of using an HTML entity to display the character (for example: °) as shown here. It could also be because there is no doctype declaration in the HTML as explained here, which can cause characters and entities to display incorrectly or not at all. Also, setting the encoding with the following meta tag:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 4:21 PM on July 15, 2013

Best answer: It’s not a font issue. It’s an issue with character encoding (that is, how the characters you see on the page are stored as bytes). The page claims (in its HTTP headers) to use UTF-8 encoding but it’s actually encoded using ISO-8859-1.

It’s not a problem you can fix per se (the page author needs to do that) but you can make the page display correctly in Firefox by pressing Alt, opening the View menu, going to the Character Encoding submenu and selecting “Western (ISO-8859-1)” from the list.
posted by kyten at 4:27 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

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