Special characters 

Some characters are particularly problematic for electronic media.

For example, the older type-setting tradition of curly apostrophes (’) and curly quotation marks (“ ”) corresponds to print media. They are not available on mechanical typewriters at all and are not immediately available on computer keyboards either. (They need to be looked up in character tables.) Like straight apostrophes (') and straight quotation marks (" ") they are available on word processors, but curly quotation marks are often misinterpreted by web servers and incorrectly displayed on web pages.

Problems tend to arise when authors use Microsoft Windows programs, including Microsoft Word, to edit texts for the web (in HTML code), because Windows uses non-standard codes for these special characters and they may appear as meaningless symbols on web pages.

These are other characters that Microsoft Windows may code idiosyncratically:

  • Curly apostrophes

  • Curly quotation marks

  • Double dashes re-interpreted as an em dash

  • Ellipsis points

  • The geminate l in Catalan (l·l).


To sum up, if you know that you are editing for Windows programs or print media, then you can use these special characters without risk of them being corrupted and appearing incorrectly in the final document. On the other hand, if you are editing for HTML documents or for a variety of output media, turn off all these special characters and the autocorrect options that introduce them automatically into documents.

The raised dot or interpunct of the geminate l is generally too large if you are using obsolete Windows character tables, leading to l•l instead of l·l. Using Unicode (UTF-8) character encoding, available in all current software, should solve this problem (see Team projects and revision of texts).
Darrera actualització: 17-11-2021
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Recommended citation:
«Special characters» [en línia]. A: Llibre d’estil de la Universitat de Barcelona. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona. Serveis Lingüístics. <http://www.ub.edu/cub/criteri.php?id=2482> [consulta: 23 maig 2022].