21. Symbols And Non-English Characters
Global Reach (http://www.glreach.com/globstats/) estimates that only 35% of the Web surfing public speaks English. That means that roughly 65% hopes that your Web page is written in some other language. And while many languages (particularly in Western Europe and the United States) are written with the same alphabet, many are written with scripts of their own: Cyrillic, Greek, and Chinese, just to mention a few. In addition, there are many useful symbolscommon to English as well as other languagesthat are not available in the current default system, known as ASCII.
Fortunately, (X)HTML is designed to support every symbol and character in every language in the world. When creating a Web page that will contain symbols and non-English characters, it's important to take into account the file's encoding (that is, the system used to convert the characters on the screen into the computer's internal system), the browser's support for such encodings (generally good in current browsers from versions 4 on) and the fonts that your visitors will have available.
Special thanks to Alan Wood for his help understanding how multilingual Web pages work. His site (http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/) is an excellent resource. More thanks to Richard Ishida at the W3C who provided valuable feedback for this chapter. He has written a number of useful tutorials for creating multilingual Web pages which you can find at http://www.w3.org/International/