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UTF-8 or iso-8859-1


Senior Member
Or does it not make enough difference to be concern?

I have never considered it before, but the site I am updating (which is in Italian) is ISO and I had never even considered that there was a difference or that one even mattered.

I've done some reading and the technical opinion is that both are effective for western languages.

There are also a few horrifically technical comments that made my brain hurt.


Active Member
Mr P. UTF-8 should be used when you expect your web content to be read by and written for an international audience, within several languages.

Typically many languages sometimes requires the occasional special character that is not available in your character set.

UTF-8 can be used for any language, even many languages at once, you don't have to worry about managing multiple encodings, you don't have to use those user-unfriendly entities that you would need with iso-8859-1

For example....

Websites encoded in Latin-1 (ISO-8859-1) which occasionally need a special character outside of their scope often will use a character entity reference to achieve the desired effect. For instance, θ can be written θ, regardless of the character encoding's support of Greek letters.

This works nicely for limited use of special characters, but say you wanted this sentence of Chinese text: 激光, 這兩個字是甚麼意思. The ampersand encoded version would look like this:

& #28608 ;& #20809 ;, & #36889 ;& #20841 ;& #20491 ;& #23383 ;& #26159 ;& #29978 ;& #40636 ;& #24847 ;& #24605 ;*note i have intentionally left a space between the beginning & and the  ending ; as the string as this forum automgically renders the entity correctly otherwise.
This is extremely inconvenient for those of us who actually know what character entities are, totally unintelligible to poor users who don't! Even the slightly more user-friendly, "intelligible" character entities like θ will leave users who are uninterested in learning HTML scratching their heads.

On the other hand, if they see θ in an edit box, they'll know that it's a special character, and treat it accordingly, even if they don't know how to write that character themselves.

I hope this helps?