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Test Your Browser & Fonts

Your International Type Fonts, Your Browser's Encoding Settings

Part I: Your International Type Fonts

This page can help you determine if your computer has the fonts needed to display extended character sets used on this web site, especially including Chinese characters and Romanized Chinese.

Extended character sets can be represented in several ways in the underlying coding of web pages. Table 1 uses numerical addresses and should display correctly if you have the needed fonts. Table 2 uses the characters directly in what is called UTF-8 encoding and will display correctly only if your browser does not bar the use of UTF-8 format. For nearly all users, the two tables should appear identical.

Do not be surprised if you have support for some languages (such as Greek or Chinese) but not for others. Egyptian hieroglyphics, for example, use longer codes [addresses U+13000 to U+1342F] as well as less common type fonts.

(Wikipedia provides a useful Multilingual support file you may wish to consult. An more exhaustive test page can be found at http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/utf8test.htm, but note that some codes are used for control purposes and have no defined display format.)

Table 1: Presence of Type Fonts
Ā Á Ă À
ā á ă à

Ǖ Ǘ Ǚ Ǜ
ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ
The top two lines at the left should be the letter A/a — upper and lower case— with diacritics to indicate Chinese tones. These letters are extensively used on the China-related pages of this web site.

The third and fourth lines should be the letter Ü/ü with the same diacritics, also for Romanized Chinese. Incomplete font sets often omit these.
Ĉ ĉ Ĝ ĝ Ĥ ĥ
Ĵ ĵ Ŝ ŝ Ŭ ŭ
The letters at left should be the supersigned letters of Esperanto.
Я не говорю по-русски.
Μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος.
אני לא לומד עברית
The top line at left should be in Russian, the next in Greek, the third in Hebrew.
𓂝𓃀𓅡𓄿𓌂 𓋴𓅓𓏏𓇏𓇌𓀀 The characters at left should be Egyptian Hieroglyphics, colored green.
我们刚才从
图书馆来了。
There should be ten simplified Chinese characters at the left, colored red.
我們剛才從
圖書館來了。
There should be ten corresponding traditional Chinese characters at the left, colored blue.
𦮙 icon The extremely rare Chinese character at the left looks like the graphic on the right. If it appears that way, then you almost certainly have a fuller font set than you will ever need.

If everything looks right you have a full font set, but you should still check your display settings (below) to make sure it will also look right for pages with UTF-8 encoding.

What To Do If Table 1 Looks Wrong

All of the non-Chinese, non-Egyptian characters shown above are available in recent versions of the common computer type fonts, such as "Times New Roman" (incorporating the "WGL4" Unicode subset of 652 characters), Arial type font, and similar generic fonts that almost certainly came with your computer. Upgrades and instructions can be obtained from the web sites for Microsoft, Apple, and other software creators.

The Chinese chracters above require a full Unicode font through version 4.0 including the Chinese portion of the code tables. Examples are NSimSun, SimSun (or earlier MS Song) and PMingLiU (or earlier MingLiU), from Microsoft. These or equivalents are normally included already with your computer or with browser software and should come up automatically unless you have disabled them or unless on your computer they need to be activated. (Different versions of Linux may vary in what they provide automatically.)

"Arial Unicode MS" is a(n ugly) font from Microsoft that is intended to contain all officially designated Unicode characters. It's use is not recommended when other fonts are available because the high and low characters of some scripts make others look double-spaced, but the intention is to have a fall-back when no other font works.

The standard Egyptian hieroglyphic font for PCs is NewGardiner. You may wish to download a free copy from https://mjn.host.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/egyptian/fonts/newgardiner.html. Select the SMP version. These make use of longer codes, and older or simpler computers, phones, tablets, or browsers may not be able to accommodate them, even when provided with appropriate fonts.

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Part 2: Your Brower's Encoding Settings

Even if you have the correct fonts available, you can still have "garbage characters" if you have set the page for the wrong "encoding." The "encoding" convention tells the computer what underlying series of ones and zeroes should correspond with what letter, whether or not that letter is available on any of the resident type fonts. Older or language-specific encodings typically use a dummy character or question mark when they hit a code for a letter that is not part of that language. The international standard is UTF-8, which gracefully accommodates nearly all languages, but because it is potentially bulky, some monolingual web sites use other standards with shorter codes for the languages in question.

The web page author can call for a certain encoding. However in most browsers the user can overrule the page author's choice of encodings. Most users leave their browsers set to follow the page author's instructions, if any. But some browsers may have a particular encoding rigidly set (for example on a public computer), or users may have selected a coding for use on all pages, regardless of the page author's instruction.

Here is the same table again. It should look the same way it did before. If it does not, the problem is the encoding setting in your browser. You should be able to correct the problem by changing your character encoding. In Firefox, for example, go to "View/Character Encoding/Unicode (UTF-8)"; in other browsers similar approaches should be possible. (A few tablet computers do not seem to allow you to modify their settings.)

If manually setting the encoding to UTF-8 works, then all you need to do is either make UTF-8 the default (that is best) or else turn off any default. If there is still a problem, check the on-line help for your browser.

Table 2: Processing of Direct UTF-8 Input
Ā Á Ǎ À
ā á ǎ à

Ǖ Ǘ Ǚ Ǜ
ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ
The top two lines at the left should be A or a with diacritics to indicate Chinese tones. These letters are extensively used on the China-related pages of this web site.

The third and fourth lines should be the letter ü —upper and lower case— with the same diacritics, also for Romanized Chinese. Incomplete font sets often omit these.
Ĉ ĉ Ĝ ĝ Ĥ ĥ
Ĵ ĵ Ŝ ŝ Ŭ ŭ
The letters at left should be the supersigned letters of Esperanto.
Я не говорю по-русски.
Μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος.

אני לא לומד עברית
The top line at left should be in Russian, the next line in Greek, the third in Hebrew.
𓃀𓅡𓄿𓌂 𓋴𓅓𓏏𓇏𓇌𓀀 The characters at left should be Egyptian Hieroglyphics, colored green.
我们刚才从
图书馆来了。
There should be ten simplified Chinese characters at the left, colored red.
我們剛才從
圖書館來了。
There should be ten corresponding traditional Chinese characters at the left, colored blue.
𦮙 icon The extremely rare Chinese character at the left looks like the graphic on the right. If it appears that way, then you almost certainly have a fuller font set than you will ever need.

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