[thelist] UTF-8 vs ISO-8859-1

Alan Wood alan.wood at context.co.uk
Fri Oct 4 04:28:00 CDT 2002

Tony Crockford wrote:

> can anyone point me to a resource that explains in laymens terms the
> difference between the two character sets?
> can anyone explain simply how it works and why it is important (apart
> from getting past the validator)
> If I create an html document on a windows machine and then declare it to
> be <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
> does it get changed by the server in some way when it is delivered?
> What would I need to do to create documents using utf-8 as opposed to
> iso-8859-1
I have a page that may help at:


Specifying charset=utf-8 in a meta tag will not make the server change your
document.  The charset supplies information that is used by your browser to
determine which characters to display.

If your Web site is in English, it makes no difference whether you use UTF-8
or ISO-8859-1.  ISO-8859-1 is a subset of UTF-8.  You can still use any
Unicode character with a charset specified as ISO-8859-1, by using character
entity references (e.g. &mdash;) or numeric character references (e.g.

Your editor should provide you with an option to specify the encoding it
will use when you save an HTML file.

Alan Wood
http://www.alanwood.net (Unicode, special characters, pesticide names)

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