Chapter 14. Special Characters


  • Understanding character encodings

  • Special characters

  • En and em spaces and dashes

  • Copyright and trademark symbols

  • Currency symbols

  • "Real" quotation marks

  • Arrows

  • Accented characters

  • Greek and mathematical characters

  • Other useful entities

Although its roots are firmly grounded in plain text, HTML needs to be able to display a wide range of characters — many that cannot be typed on a regular keyboard. Language is rich with extended and accented characters, and there are many reserved characters in HTML.

The HTML specification defines many entities — specific codes — to insert special characters. This chapter introduces you to the concept of entities and lists the various entities available for use.


The W3C Web site is a good source of information about entities. The HTML entities are listed at

Understanding Character Encodings

Character encoding at its simplest is the method that maps binary data to their proper character equivalents. For example, in a standard American English document character, 65 is matched to a capital A.

Most English fonts follow the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) coding. So when a Web designer inserts a capital A, he can be assured that users will see the appropriate "A" in their user agent.

There are, of course, plenty of caveats to that statement. The document must be encoded as English, the specified font must also be encoded as English, the font must be an ...

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