HTML Encoding (Character Sets)

To display an HTML page correctly, a web browser must know which character set (character encoding) to use.

What is Character Encoding?

ASCII was the first character encoding standard (also called character set). ASCII defined 128 different alphanumeric characters that could be used on the internet: numbers (0-9), English letters (A-Z), and some special characters like ! $ + - ( ) @ < > .

ANSI (Windows-1252) was the original Windows character set, with support for 256 different character codes.

ISO-8859-1 was the default character set for HTML 4. This character set also supported 256 different character codes.

Because ANSI and ISO-8859-1 were so limited, HTML 4 also supported UTF-8.

UTF-8 (Unicode) covers almost all of the characters and symbols in the world.

The default character encoding for HTML5 is UTF-8.

The HTML charset Attribute

To display an HTML page correctly, a web browser must know the character set used in the page.

This is specified in the <meta> tag:

For HTML4:

<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html;charset=ISO-8859-1">

For HTML5:

<meta charset="UTF-8">

If a browser detects ISO-8859-1 in a web page, it defaults to ANSI, because ANSI is identical to ISO-8859-1 except that ANSI has 32 extra characters.

Differences Between Character Sets

The following table displays the differences between the character sets described above:

Numb ASCII ANSI 8859 UTF-8 Description
32 space
33!!!!exclamation mark
34""""quotation mark
35####number sign
36$$$$dollar sign
37%%%%percent sign
40((((left parenthesis
41))))right parenthesis
43++++plus sign
46....full stop
480000digit zero
491111digit one
502222digit two
513333digit three
524444digit four
535555digit five
546666digit six
557777digit seven
568888digit eight
579999digit nine
60<<<<less-than sign
61====equals sign
62>>>>greater-than sign
63????question mark
64@@@@commercial at
65AAAALatin capital letter A
66BBBBLatin capital letter B
67CCCCLatin capital letter C
68DDDDLatin capital letter D
69EEEELatin capital letter E
70FFFFLatin capital letter F
71GGGGLatin capital letter G
72HHHHLatin capital letter H
73IIIILatin capital letter I
74JJJJLatin capital letter J
75KKKKLatin capital letter K
76LLLLLatin capital letter L
77MMMMLatin capital letter M
78NNNNLatin capital letter N
79OOOOLatin capital letter O
80PPPPLatin capital letter P
81QQQQLatin capital letter Q
82RRRRLatin capital letter R
83SSSSLatin capital letter S
84TTTTLatin capital letter T
85UUUULatin capital letter U
86VVVVLatin capital letter V
87WWWWLatin capital letter W
88XXXXLatin capital letter X
89YYYYLatin capital letter Y
90ZZZZLatin capital letter Z
91[[[[left square bracket
92\\\\reverse solidus
93]]]]right square bracket
94^^^^circumflex accent
95____low line
96````grave accent
97aaaaLatin small letter a
98bbbbLatin small letter b
99ccccLatin small letter c
100ddddLatin small letter d
101eeeeLatin small letter e
102ffffLatin small letter f
103ggggLatin small letter g
104hhhhLatin small letter h
105iiiiLatin small letter i
106jjjjLatin small letter j
107kkkkLatin small letter k
108llllLatin small letter l
109mmmmLatin small letter m
110nnnnLatin small letter n
111ooooLatin small letter o
112ppppLatin small letter p
113qqqqLatin small letter q
114rrrrLatin small letter r
115ssssLatin small letter s
116ttttLatin small letter t
117uuuuLatin small letter u
118vvvvLatin small letter v
119wwwwLatin small letter w
120xxxxLatin small letter x
121yyyyLatin small letter y
122zzzzLatin small letter z
123{{{{left curly bracket
124||||vertical line
125}}}}right curly bracket
128   euro sign
129 NOT USED
130   single low-9 quotation mark
131 ƒ  Latin small letter f with hook
132   double low-9 quotation mark
133   horizontal ellipsis
134   dagger
135   double dagger
136 ˆ  modifier letter circumflex accent
137   per mille sign
138 Š  Latin capital letter S with caron
139   single left-pointing angle quotation mark
140 Œ  Latin capital ligature OE
141 NOT USED
142 Ž  Latin capital letter Z with caron
143 NOT USED
144 NOT USED
145   left single quotation mark
146   right single quotation mark
147   left double quotation mark
148   right double quotation mark
149   bullet
150   en dash
151   em dash
152 ˜  small tilde
153   trade mark sign
154 š  Latin small letter s with caron
155   single right-pointing angle quotation mark
156 œ  Latin small ligature oe
157 NOT USED
158 ž  Latin small letter z with caron
159 Ÿ  Latin capital letter Y with diaeresis
160    no-break space
161 ¡¡¡inverted exclamation mark
162 ¢¢¢cent sign
163 £££pound sign
164 ¤¤¤currency sign
165 ¥¥¥yen sign
166 ¦¦¦broken bar
167 §§§section sign
168 ¨¨¨diaeresis
169 ©©©copyright sign
170 ªªªfeminine ordinal indicator
171 «««left-pointing double angle quotation mark
172 ¬¬¬not sign
173 ­­­soft hyphen
174 ®®®registered sign
175 ¯¯¯macron
176 °°°degree sign
177 ±±±plus-minus sign
178 ²²²superscript two
179 ³³³superscript three
180 ´´´acute accent
181 µµµmicro sign
182 pilcrow sign
183 ···middle dot
184 ¸¸¸cedilla
185 ¹¹¹superscript one
186 ºººmasculine ordinal indicator
187 »»»right-pointing double angle quotation mark
188 ¼¼¼vulgar fraction one quarter
189 ½½½vulgar fraction one half
190 ¾¾¾vulgar fraction three quarters
191 ¿¿¿inverted question mark
192 ÀÀÀLatin capital letter A with grave
193 ÁÁÁLatin capital letter A with acute
194 ÂÂÂLatin capital letter A with circumflex
195 ÃÃÃLatin capital letter A with tilde
196 ÄÄÄLatin capital letter A with diaeresis
197 ÅÅÅLatin capital letter A with ring above
198 ÆÆÆLatin capital letter AE
199 ÇÇÇLatin capital letter C with cedilla
200 ÈÈÈLatin capital letter E with grave
201 ÉÉÉLatin capital letter E with acute
202 ÊÊÊLatin capital letter E with circumflex
203 ËËËLatin capital letter E with diaeresis
204 ÌÌÌLatin capital letter I with grave
205 ÍÍÍLatin capital letter I with acute
206 ÎÎÎLatin capital letter I with circumflex
207 ÏÏÏLatin capital letter I with diaeresis
208 ÐÐÐLatin capital letter Eth
209 ÑÑÑLatin capital letter N with tilde
210 ÒÒÒLatin capital letter O with grave
211 ÓÓÓLatin capital letter O with acute
212 ÔÔÔLatin capital letter O with circumflex
213 ÕÕÕLatin capital letter O with tilde
214 ÖÖÖLatin capital letter O with diaeresis
215 ×××multiplication sign
216 ØØØLatin capital letter O with stroke
217 ÙÙÙLatin capital letter U with grave
218 ÚÚÚLatin capital letter U with acute
219 ÛÛÛLatin capital letter U with circumflex
220 ÜÜÜLatin capital letter U with diaeresis
221 ÝÝÝLatin capital letter Y with acute
222 ÞÞÞLatin capital letter Thorn
223 ßßßLatin small letter sharp s
224 àààLatin small letter a with grave
225 áááLatin small letter a with acute
226 âââLatin small letter a with circumflex
227 ãããLatin small letter a with tilde
228 äääLatin small letter a with diaeresis
229 åååLatin small letter a with ring above
230 æææLatin small letter ae
231 çççLatin small letter c with cedilla
232 èèèLatin small letter e with grave
233 éééLatin small letter e with acute
234 êêêLatin small letter e with circumflex
235 ëëëLatin small letter e with diaeresis
236 ìììLatin small letter i with grave
237 íííLatin small letter i with acute
238 îîîLatin small letter i with circumflex
239 ïïïLatin small letter i with diaeresis
240 ðððLatin small letter eth
241 ñññLatin small letter n with tilde
242 òòòLatin small letter o with grave
243 óóóLatin small letter o with acute
244 ôôôLatin small letter o with circumflex
245 õõõLatin small letter o with tilde
246 öööLatin small letter o with diaeresis
247 ÷÷÷division sign
248 øøøLatin small letter o with stroke
249 ùùùLatin small letter u with grave
250 úúúLatin small letter u with acute
251 ûûûLatin small letter with circumflex
252 üüüLatin small letter u with diaeresis
253 ýýýLatin small letter y with acute
254 þþþLatin small letter thorn
255 ÿÿÿLatin small letter y with diaeresis

The ASCII Character Set

ASCII uses the values from 0 to 31 (and 127) for control characters.

ASCII uses the values from 32 to 126 for letters, digits, and symbols.

ASCII does not use the values from 128 to 255.

The ANSI Character Set (Windows-1252)

ANSI is identical to ASCII for the values from 0 to 127.

ANSI has a proprietary set of characters for the values from 128 to 159.

ANSI is identical to UTF-8 for the values from 160 to 255.

The ISO-8859-1 Character Set

8859-1 is identical to ASCII for the values from 0 to 127.

8859-1 does not use the values from 128 to 159.

8859-1 is identical to UTF-8 for the values from 160 to 255.

The UTF-8 Character Set

UTF-8 is identical to ASCII for the values from 0 to 127.

UTF-8 does not use the values from 128 to 159. 

UTF-8 is identical to both ANSI and 8859-1 for the values from 160 to 255.

UTF-8 continues from the value 256 with more than 10 000 different characters.

For a closer look, study our Complete HTML Character Set Reference.