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Technical Advisory Service
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Compliance Corner

Compliance corner comprises a series of issues that have arisen in the context of projects meeting technical standards. This page covers:

Character encoding

Existing advice may be found at :
Website FAQs list.
NOF-DIGI email archive

Another frequent cause of non-compliance is the failure to identify a character encoding in every text document on a website. Browsers need to know your pages' character encoding (or "charset") in order to display correctly the characters used in its content. Without the correct character encoding a browser may not manage the conversion in to the correct characters for your pages.

Best practice is to identify the character encoding in use either in the HTTP header or within the <HEAD> section of the document. To identify the character encoding in the HTTP header you will need access to the web server. If this is not possible, placing the character encoding in the <HEAD> section is also allowed and will override the content of any HTTP header if such is present.

It is worth noting also that certain block level items within the document body, e.g. <div> ,<p> etc. will also allow a character encoding attribute should your page happen contain mixed character sets.

Choice of Character Sets

You are reminded that the technical Standards and Guidelines were updated in February 2002 to state that any standard character set is now permissible.

TIP: indicate the actual character encoding your project is using when filling out your quarterly progress report.

See Character encodings at:
for more detailed information and examples.

For further information see Character Encoding at:

Return to Compliance Corner contents

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Page last updated on Monday, May 09, 2005