Configuring Browsers for Unicode

Configuring web browsers to display Unicode in OS X (Macintosh) and Windows (PC)

Browsers are Unicode-compliant to varying degrees. From one version of a browser to the next compliance can change, and different versions of an operating system will also affect the ability to display Unicode properly. The directions below have worked for us and are meant as a starting point, but will not apply to every computer or every version of every browser. With a little experimentation, you should be able to identify similar tactics in your software and achieve results.
For more information see Alan Wood's excellent "Unicode and Multilingual Web Browsers" site:

Internet Explorer in Windows XP on a PC:
IE can be set to display all our text correctly, but the settings may have to be changed again to view some other sites on the web that require proprietary non-Unicode fonts (such as the Encyclopedia of Islam, which uses its own fonts that are not at all compatible with Unicode). For most websites, however, the changes you make will be transparent. (See also Alan Wood's "Setting up Windows Internet Explorer 5, 5.5 and 6 for Multilingual and Unicode Support"
The following instructions refer to IE v.6.0 in Windows XP Professional, and work for us:
1. Click on the Tools menu, choose Internet Options.
2. Click on the Fonts button at the bottom of the Internet Options window.
3. In the Fonts window:
    Choose Latin based from the pull down menu.
    Under Web Page Font, choose Arial Unicode MS.
         (We have had some success with Gentium and Titus Cyberbit Basic, but not with
         Lucida Sans Unicode. There are probably other Unicode fonts that will work.)
    You may not need to change the font under Plain Text Font (on our PC it is Lucida Sans RLG, but we did not set it to that).
    Click OK.

4. Back at the Internet Options window, click on the Accessibility button.
5. In the Accessibility window:
    Click to put a check mark by Ignore Font Styles.
    You can also do this for Ignore Font Sizes if you want to be able to resize the text of encyclopedia articles for easier reading, but it is not necessary.
    Click OK.

6. Back at the Internet Options window, click OK.
All diacritics should now display correctly.
If you find that some website is not displaying properly because it needs a different font, and this should be rare unless you are looking at sites written in scripts other than Latin, such as Asian languages, Arabic, Hebrew, etc. (and some of those should work with Arial Unicode MS too), the remedy is simple. Just go back to the Accessibility window and remove the check mark(s) you made in step 5.

Internet Explorer on Macintosh OSX:
IE for the Macintosh is not very Unicode-compliant and we have been unable to get it to work with the Encyclopedia. We are using version 5.2 of IE and OSX v.10.3.9. We would be grateful to anyone who can provide tips on improving this, but suspect it is not likely to be usable. Alan Wood has some information: Microsoft no longer supports or produces this software. Very few people use it. For what it's worth, here are our settings:

Mozilla Firefox in Windows XP on a PC:
We have had no trouble with Firefox and Unicode. It seems much more flexible than Internet Explorer and is our preferred browser. It is what we use to test the Encyclopedia as we develop it, so it may be the best browser to use for viewing the Encyclopedia. Unlike Internet Explorer, Firefox has never required that we change the font settings to view other sites. There are probably sites--or specific characters on certain sites--that would require changing these settings, but we have yet to encounter them.
See Alan Wood's "Setting up Firefox Web Browsers for Multilingual and Unicode Support"
Basically, you need to go to Options... in the Tools menu. Under General > Languages, chose Unicode (UTF-8). Under General > Fonts and Colors, make the selections illustrated below.

Firefox on Macintosh
As with Windows, Firefox is the most reliable Mac browser we have used in terms of properly handling Unicode. It is free to download and simple to use. For information, see Alan Wood's Mac browsers page:
The following worked for us:
1. In the Firefox menu, choose Preferences.
2. In the Preferences window, click on the icon for General, then click on the Fonts and Colors button
3. These are the settings we use, and they seem to be working well:

Lucida Grande does seem to have difficulty with some characters with diacritics in italic or bold, but otherwise looks good. Do not check "Always use my: fonts".

Safari on Macintosh
Safari can handle Unicode, but it is not flawless. Since it comes with OS X it is widely available, but we would suggest using Firefox instead. For information, see Alan Wood's Mac browsers page: This is how we have Safari configured. It displays most of the Encyclopedia acceptably, though it has some issues with spacing after some Unicode characters.

We have not experimented with other browsers, and can not say which work best with Unicode. Alan Wood has information about a number of Windows, Unix, and Macintosh browsers at

For information about Unicode, enabling it on your computer, typing special characters and other useful tips (as well as suggestions for authors of articles), please see the Encyclopedia's Unicode page:

Our instructions are not guaranteed to work on your computer, and are not guaranteed not to inhibit your browswer's ability to show other sites, but we have tested the above settings and found no major problems. Keep track of what your settings are BEFORE you make changes so it will be easier to change them back if necessary. To do this, you may want to take screenshots (pictures) of settings, like the ones above.
In Windows, hold down the Alt key and press Print Screen (or Pr Scr--usually in the upper right of the keyboard) while the window is open (Alt + Pr Scr will take a picture of the front-most window only; to take a picture of the whole screen use Ctrl + Pr Scr). Then use the paste command to insert the image into a graphics or word processing program.
In OS X there are numerous options. To take a picture of a menu, a dialog box, or a window, pressing Command (the apple key) + Shift + 4 + Spacebar will give you a camera-cursor. Holding it over a window will turn that window blue (or whatever your chosen highlight color is), and clicking will take the picture. In 10.2 and 10.3, the picture is instantly saved as a PDF (named something like picture1.pdf). In 10.4 the format is a .png file. If you would prefer to paste the photo into a graphics or word processing application, press Command (the apple key) + Shift + 4 + Spacebar + Ctrl. After clicking on the window with the camera cursor, go to the chosen application and use the paste command. For other screenshot options in OS X, search the internet for OSX screenshot. Our information came from

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