Find out why text on a website is not properly displayed

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 23, 2008
Updated • Sep 29, 2015
Windows, Windows tips

Whenever I visit Chinese websites I stumble upon strange characters that do not resemble Chinese at all. When I visit the Chinese Google homepage for instance I see lots of blocks of hex code pairs but no Chinese characters on the entire page but in graphics.

Since I'm probably not the only one with that problem I would like to explain how you can find out the reason behind this display issue and how to correct it so that characters are displayed like they should regardless of language used on a website.

It usually comes down to Asian languages like Chinese or Japanese that are not displayed properly on Western computers. The easiest way to install support for those languages is to go into the Windows Control Panel and activate the East Asian language options.

To do that you click on Regional and Language Options in the Control Panel, switch to the Languages tab and check the Install files for East Asian languages option under Supplemental language support there. This requires some files that need to be installed from the Windows installation CD.



Looks better don't you think ? If you are having troubles with a website in a different language you should first check the charset that is defined in the website's meta tags and research that charset.

Update: Newer versions of Windows don't require installation anymore, at least not when it comes to websites and the languages they display.

You can test this out for yourself by visiting a foreign language site that uses a different alphabet or characters. If you speak English, a Chinese or Japanese website will do for instance.

You should notice that the letters of the language are displayed just fine in the web browser. Note that this is not necessarily the case if you want to write in foreign languages. If you want to do that, you may still need to install language packs on your system to add that option to the operating system.

Find out why text on a website is not properly displayed
Article Name
Find out why text on a website is not properly displayed
The article describes what you need to do when websites or application displays strange symbols instead of letters and characters of the language you are expecting.

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  1. Syber said on June 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Sounds funny? I translated this one into Chinese, dose Chinese people do not know how to display their language correct? No! In China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, people use Windows system Chinese version, so they do not have any problem while they surf on Chinese website. But I know many Chines people live in other countries, their computers are western language version, so I have enough reasons to translate this article to Chinese.
    Of course, if you want input Chinese character you need to do same way.

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