Displaying non-English Text

Foreign Language fonts
Solving Printing Problems
Non-English web pages
Reading non-English e-mail

Foreign Language Fonts

Most recent True-Type and Open-Type fonts have built-in characters for all European languages, including Central European and even non-Roman Greek and Cyrillic alphabets. The size of the font file is a rough indication if a font has this capability – files over 100K usually have CE characters. Exception – some complex fonts, such as fancy scripts and outlined letters are over 100K with only Western European characters.

To check the size of a font file, display its folder in Windows Explorer and click View, Details. For installed fonts, click Start, Settings, Control Panel, Fonts, and then View, Details.

A more certain method is to write some text with non-English letters and change the formatting of the text to the font in question. If the font is installed on your system, you can do this directly in Word or other Office application. To test a font that is not installed on your system, proceed as follows:

Using Windows Explorer, display the folder where the font file resides (this could be on the hard disk, network share, or a CD, floppy or other removable storage). Double-click the font file. This will display the font viewer showing sample text formatted in the font from that file.

Leaving the font preview open (you can minimize it, but don’t close it), open an Office application. The font under test will be available in the Font drop-down of that application as long as that font's viewer window has not been closed. You can open several fonts in multiple viewer windows, and all will be added to the fonts available to applications opened subsequently.

Solving printing problems.

If foreign characters are displayed properly on-screen but do not print, there are several possibilities:

Check if the printer you are using has an Advanced or Enhanced printer driver available -- look on the manufacturer's web site. If it does, install that in place of the basic driver for the printer. Alternately, there may be a check box that turns on advanced features somewhere in the printer’s properties settings (Start, Settings, Printers, right-click on printer name, click Properties).

Check on the printer property pages if there is an option to use built-in fonts instead of downloaded fonts. If there is, turn OFF the built-in fonts – on older printers, these might be missing multi-language support.

Non-English Web Pages

If non-English characters do not display properly, you can change the "Encoding" your browser uses to display the page. Most browsers place this command on the View menu. When you click View, Encoding (some browsers label this as Character or Text Encoding), select the appropriate character set from the list. For example, for Polish and other Latin-based Slavic languages, choose either Central European Windows or Central European ISO. This will correct the problem, provided that the web site author has correctly built the page.

Reading non-English e-mail

This is the most intractable problem in getting proper display of non-English characters. Reason is that e-mail passes through myriads of servers on the internet, each of which can mangle the author's intended encoding of the sent text.

Most e-mail readers (with the exception of the totally dysfuntional proprietary AOL reader) will allow you to change the encoding of messages. The encoding command is usually under the View menu. See the foregoing note about non-English web pages.

BUT, If you use AOL's proprietary interface to read e-mail, there is NO WAY you can read characters from outside the Western European alphabet. The only solution is: DON'T DO THAT. There are many more functional e-mail readers, including one from AOL.

Instead of starting up the proprietary AOL e-mailer, open an Internet browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer or FireFox, and go to the address www.aol.com. Click on the e-mail icon and enter your screen name and password. Once you open a non-English message, you can use the View/Encoding command to select the appropriate alphabet, and life is good!

NOTE: Versions of Outlook prior to 2007 could not display non-English characters in the envelope of a message (From, To, CC, Date, Subject).