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Special Characters

How do you say...

>>>Æ ñ Þóßÿ ?

NOTE:If the above characters do not display various accents or diacritcal markers, then your web browser does not support the ISO Latin 1 character set. You would likely want to skip this lesson


After this lesson you will be able to:


Note: If you do not have the working documents from the previous lessons, download a copy now.

Accent Marks

Sometime you may need to use a special character in an HTML document, an accent or diacritical mark. The ones that are recognized as known as ISO Latin 1 These special characters are marked in HTML as:
where XXXX is the code name for the special character.

For example, in the "Terminology" section of our Volcano lesson, we want to add an explanation of a technical term that was used to describe a particular type of volcanic flow. This term nuee ardente is from the French term for "glowing cloud"; but to use the proper spelling we need an "acute" accent, so that the word appears as nuée ardente. In this case, we replace the first e in nuee with the HTML for the acute accented "e" é:

     nuée ardente 
For reference, see the full list of special ISO Latin 1 characters.

Now we will add a sentence to our HTML document that uses an accented letter:

  1. Open the HTML file, Volc.html in your text editor.
  2. Under the list of terms of the Volcanology Terminology section enter the text:
      The term <I>nu&eacute;e ardente,</I> or 
      "glowing cloud" was first used by La Croix (1904)
      in his description of the volcanic flows he observed in 
      the 1902 eruption of Mt Pel&eacute;e, a historically 
      active volcano on the island of Martinique.
    NOTE: We have applied the acute accent mark for two "e" letters in this sentence. It may look strange! Be sure that you replace the letter with the sequence that displays the same letter with the accent mark.
  3. Save and Reload the HTML file.

HTML Escape Sequences

The HTML for the accent mark is an example of the more general class of tags known as escape sequences. In entering HTML so far, you may have wondered what you do when you need to use a < (less-than) or a > (greater-than) sign? These two characters, plus the & (ampersand) have special meaning in HTML and cannot be used as typed. Instead, use the escape sequences:
   &lt;  is used for <
   &gt;  is used for > 
   &amp; is used for &
Now let's apply one of these symbols in our Volcano lesson. In the previous lesson, we added a table that lists several volcanoes and how much material was erupted from each. Let's say one of the values (500-600) for Long Valley is not very accurate (often such values are estimates), and we would like the entry to read >450 & <700. To do this:
  1. Open the HTML file, Volc.html in your text editor.
  2. Under the heading of Volcanoes of Some Well-Known Volcanic Eruptions, find the line for Long Valley in our table:
      Long Valley, California     pre-historic        500 - 600
    and change it to:
      Long Valley, California     pre-historic       &gt;450 &amp; &lt;700
    NOTE: Although we are using the escape sequences within a preformatted text, note how a web browser properly interprets and displays the special characters. The escape sequences can thus be used in all portions of an HTML document including headings and anchor links.
  3. Save and Reload the HTML file.

Check Your Work

Compare your document with a sample of how this document should appear. If your document was different than the sample, review the text you entered in the text editor. Be sure that you have correctly bracketed the escape sequences with the & and ; characters.


Review topics for this lesson:
  1. In HTML, what is the correct way to display a German umlaut (ü)?
  2. What happens if you do not use an escape sequence for < and > ?
  3. Why would you need a special escape sequence for the & character?

Independent Practice

In your own HTML document, add a foreign word that requires a special accent or a mathematical expression that uses the < or > symbol.

Coming Next....

Build a bibliography using a descriptive list.
GO TO.... | Lesson Index | previous lesson "Preformatted Text" | next lesson "Descriptive Lists" |

Writing HTML Lesson 10: Special Characters
©1995 Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction (MCLI)
Maricopa County Community College District, Arizona

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