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Phonetic diacritics

§ Web standards · Typography

Over at Interconnected, Matt was overjoyed to find that a BBC sub-editor had corrected the word epidemic to epizootic in a programme description: …the lessons learned from the 2001 Foot and Mouth epizootic. Epidemic is from the Greek epi ‘upon’ + dēmos ‘the people’ whereas epizootic is from zōion ‘animal’. While it’s pretty incredible that someone made this change, I find it even more incredible that Matt spotted the edit!

Incidentally the phonetic diacritics in the previous sentence (ē and ō) were inserted using the appropriate Unicode decimal codes, ē and ō respectively.

Alan Wood has created the comprehensive resource for using Unicode on the Web, including a huge test suite for Unicode character ranges which one can use to help find the code for a given character.

Incidentally, to see these non-ASCII characters, you’ll need a suitable font installed. All the core Windows Web fonts (Georgia, Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana, etc) are Unicode-based and support the 16-bit WGL4 character set (652 characters). Many of Microsoft’s operating systems and applications come with additional Unicode fonts; Office 2000 upwards installs Arial Unicode MS, which includes all of the characters in version 2.0 of the Unicode standard. The Macintosh operating system has included Unicode support since version 8.5, allowing applications to see and use characters in both Macintosh and Windows TrueType and OpenType fonts that are outside the 233 characters in the MacRoman character set.

And while we’re on the subject, do try not to get confused between diacritic and diuretic.