Unicode, Shunicode
May 23, 2007 4:13 PM   Subscribe

Fonts Filter: In MS Word 2002, I'm trying to type a "combining diaresis" (umlaut applied to the preceding character). Sometimes it actually works; sometimes i get a square box. I have no idea why it works when it does, or why it doesnt work when it doesnt.

It does work consistently in Word 2007 on a different computer, so the easy answer is to upgrade Word. However, 2002 is supposed to be unicode compatible, and it DOES work on 2002 -- sometimes. I just dont know why it works when it does, or doesnt when it doesnt.

When it doesnt work, I get a square box, and the font changes to "Tahoma" (from the previous arial or arial unicode). When it does work, I get the combining diaresis correctly applied to the previous character, and the font remains what it was (I've seen it work with times new roman, tahoma, arial, etc).

To type in the diaresis (aka umlaut), i'm using a temporary custom key assignment that I created using MKLC (microsoft keyboard layout creator). Using MKLC, you can assign any unicode character (in this case, the unicode for the combining diaresis) to any key combination.

Any advice? I'd rather not shell out 300 bucks for Office 2007, especially when i dont really know why it sometimes DOES work with 2002.

I havent done anything differently as far as I can tell, to the computer, between the times when it does work and the times when it doesnt.

posted by jak68 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Not sure but do you have the latest service pack applied for office? It might be a bug thats already been addressed.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:24 PM on May 23, 2007

Square boxes usually indicate letters that are not available in your current font. So probably you are getting the box when you're using a font without unicode combining characters, and sometimes you are using one with good unicode support?

A lot of the standard windows fonts don't have the combining dieresis.
posted by aubilenon at 4:29 PM on May 23, 2007

To expand on what aubilenon is saying:

It isn't actually laying an umlaut on top of the preceding character. What it's doing is to replace the preceding un-umlauted vowel with a different character, the umlauted vowel. Which works fine if the font actually has such a character. If you see a box, it means your font doesn't.

These are the three standard vowels: a (0061) o (006F) u (0075)

The operation you're trying to perform replaces them with these three, respectively: ä (00E4) ö (00F6) ü (00FC)

But if the current font doesn't include those characters, then you're SOL.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:47 PM on May 23, 2007

SCDB: No I'm talking about the combining dieresis (0308) That's the only way with unicode to spell the band If the font has no 0308 it will show a box.

Spin̈al Tap it doesn't work right for me in this font, in this browser, but does here .
posted by aubilenon at 4:56 PM on May 23, 2007

On a Mac, that linked page doesn't work that great either. The dieresis ends up between the 'n' and the 'a'.
posted by smackfu at 5:11 PM on May 23, 2007

I'm pretty sure aubilenon has it. In every instance I've seen where a character shows up as a box it's because the font does not support that character.
posted by lekvar at 5:15 PM on May 23, 2007

I stand corrected.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:27 PM on May 23, 2007

dirty ape: the service pack might help, i havent checked. I will, thanks.

aubilenon and beste: I'm actually printing the unicode character of "U0000308", which is a "combining diaresis". While there do exist vowels with umlaut, with the combining diaresis, you can actually print an umlaut above ANY alphabet, even consonents, consonents which do not otherwise have any pre-existing umlauted-font character. I've tried this in word 2007 and it works. I can even put an umlaut over symbols like ">" and "$" with it.

aubilenon: Thats correct, but then can you explain why sometimes word 2002 allows me to put the combining diaresis (the default font in my template is arial unicode), and sometimes it only prints a square box? (on the same template. On monday it allowed me to print combined diaresis everywhere i wanted; on wednesday it did not). What could effect that, given that to my knowledge nothing else was changed?

I'll check the service packs and will consider an upgrade to word 2007 (where it works fine every time), but I was just wondering in terms of what is happening. Thanks guys.
posted by jak68 at 6:49 PM on May 23, 2007

p.s., the only difference in behaviour of Word 2002 that I've noticed, is that when it works, the font does not change; when it fails, the font changes (usually to Tahoma, for some reason). Thats the only clue I have to go on, for the moment.
posted by jak68 at 6:52 PM on May 23, 2007

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