Email Encoding

May 22, 2005 at 03:46:49
Specs: Microsoft Windows XP Prof, AMD Athlon XP-M 2500+ @ 2

I am experimenting writing newsletters. I connected directly to my SMTP server and send the mail to a local user (me). This is just to simulate receiving the email.

However, many symbols that I use appear as something else. For example a GBP sign (£) appears as this: œ. I know this has something to do with the encoding but I don't know how to specify.

My emails are literally copied and pasted into the Telnet window from a text file containing a plain text email, i.e. with the From, To, Subject headers and then the email.

Could someone explain how I specify an encoding or just get it to show the characters properly? My email client (Thunderbird) interprets it as ISO-8859-1 which I am guessing is what I want since it is the encoding I use for web pages too.

Thanks in advance,


Free PC Help forums

See More: Email Encoding

Report •

May 22, 2005 at 23:23:55

As I understand it, in most "modern" email clients (like Outlook Express) you can set the encoding you want to use when writing and reading emails. Problems can occur if the recipient's email client can't translate from one encoding to the other--or if you don't declare what encoding you're using. That second possibility is probably what has happened in your case.

My guess is that you need to add a line to your outgoing email like this :

<META http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">

Let us know if that works.

Internet marketing - bilingual & multilingual web site development -

Report •

May 23, 2005 at 01:24:57

Hi James;
I'm not familiar with Thunderbird or Telnet.
Also not sure exactly what the problem is either.

But by looking at the source code on your message here for the Pound symbol (£) I see this. If that didn't display right look at the code yourself.

If it's html code for the sign you want look it up here. It appears to be right for ISO-8859-1.
Try this one & # 163 ; or & pound ; but without the spaces.

Good luck;

Report •

May 26, 2005 at 05:09:00

Hi azw and RandyL,

Thanks for your replies. However, both of your solutions are for HTML-based emails, not just plain text ones.

I've done a bit of troubleshooting and it looks like its my email client (Thunderbird) that interprets it wrongly. For instance, I can connect directly to my SMTP server and send a message to a local account (mine) on the same server. Then I connect to the POP server and I can read the message. Characters like the ones we've mentioned are all shown up fine. Weird...

By the way, Telnet is just a little program that lets you directly connect to any IP on any port and send it plain text commands. It's useful for testing web, email and DNS servers.

Many thanks,


Free PC Help forums

Report •

Related Solutions

June 5, 2005 at 00:07:59

Hi, James,

You're right. I was assuming you're using html email. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

I think, though, that the problem may still be similar to what I suggested earlier.

Are you sure that the text you pasted into telnet used the ascii encoding? Plain text emails should use ascii. The tip off is that there is no GBP sign (£) in ascii.

The editor you were using to create the message (before you copied and pasted it) must be using another encoding. Ascii is a subset of ISO-8859-1. Especially in the extended codes over 128, the different encodings use the same numerical code to represent different characters--which can lead to the wackiness you saw.

If you used NotePad to create the message, it has an option to save a file in ansi, but not ascii. The ascii and ansi character sets are identical for character codes of 127 and less Character codes of 128 and higher are a combination of graphics and foreign-language characters. Windows uses the ANSI character set, which differs from the ASCII set for character codes of 128 and higher.

So it's likely that you've inadvertently pasted in text that uses another encoding, perhaps ansi.

These encodings are pretty confusing because they're transparent until something goes wrong.

There must be encoding translation tools. I'd love to hear about them, if anyone has any tips. Some web editor programs like Dreamweaver MX can switch between different encodings, but doesn't handle ascii because web pages don't use ascii.

Report •

June 7, 2005 at 09:48:11

Hi azw,

Thanks for keeping an old thread alive.

It's really strange how many different encoding formats there are: ASCII, ANSI, ISO-8859-1, UTF-8 etc.

Basically, what you're saying is that I should've used a text editor that encodes in ASCII (or at least save it so) and then use this with Telnet. However, the £ sign isn't in the ASCII set — as you said — so how do I go about including it?

Sorry if I missed something vital in your reply.



Report •

Ask Question