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Note added March 26, 2007:   None of the following rigmarole should be needed for modern operting systems or browsers. - ed

SerboCroatian on your monitor: coding and fonts

If the characters in the second row of the table match those in the top row, you will have no trouble viewing serbocroatian latin characters. (Don't worry about small differences in the weights of the letters, but check that the accents are there, and that none of the letters in the second row are empty boxes or "garbage.")

Newer Browsers (Internet Explorer 5 and above and Netscape 7), and newer operating systems (Windows 98 and above) should display the characters properly without user input. If, however, you have an older browser or operating system, and the letters in the second row do not match their mates, the following paragraphs will help you set things right. These notes should also help if for some other reason your newer software is misconfigured.

The following recipes boil down a lot of material about international codings and fonts. They're meant to allow you to quickly (and I hope painlessly) set your machine to display the full South-Slavic latin alphabet. Please follow the recipes given here carefully, and fee free to ask if something isn't clear. The recipes are written for PC users. MAC OS 9 should handle extended characters painlessly, while earlier version may require installation of multilanguage sets. For details on setting up multilanguage capability on MACs, as well as on other operating systems, see the excellent page by Alan Wood.

Two elements are involved in rendering the serbocroatian characters: the browser configuration, and the font. Either one or both of these will have to be attended to. Just go through the following paragraphs, making the changes as indicated, until the rows of the table match up.

Configuration: Go to the top of your browser window and click on "View", and then on "Character Coding." Choose the coding "Central European (ISO-8859-2)."

Note that the procedure is similar in browsers other than Netscape. For example, in Internet Explorer, you'll go to View > Encoding > Central European (ISO). Don't be afraid to experiment; see what effect different encodings have on the table.

Other things to check:

NS 6: In Edit > Preferences > Fonts, check that "fonts for" is set for "Central European" and that there's a check in the "Allow documents to use other fonts" box.

NS 4: Neither the encoding or font preferences seem to matter, as long as you have the proper version of the font (see below). In this regard NS 4 is a better version than NS 6.

If re-setting your browser's encoding fixes the table, you're done.

Font: If however, the table still doesn't look right, this means that the appropriate font isn't installed on your machine.

You don't need a special "serbocroatian" font. Instead, you need an updated version of a font you already have. Older versions of Windows fonts contain a meagre character set - they include some, but not all, of the five accented or embellished characters used in the serbocroatian latin alphabet. Eventually realizing this, Microsoft a few years ago began providing updated (so-called extended) fonts, containing all the missing characters. However, Microsoft no longer provides these extended fonts for older operating systems, one has to scour the nets for them. The only one you'll need is Times New Roman (TNR), which I provide below.

Checking your version of TNR: Look in your fonts folder, either by Start > Settings > Fonts or by going to C: > Windows > Fonts in Windows Explorer. Then note the size of times.ttf / Times New Roman. If the size is around 80 Kb, you have a meagre version of the font. To read serbocroatian on your screen, you'll have to replace this with the full 323 Kb extended version.

Saving the old font: The Windows fonts folder is set up so that you cannot straight-forwardly move a font out of it. Use this trick:

(1) Create a new folder called "change-fonts", but not in your windows folder. Create two subdirectories to new-fonts, called "new" and "old".

(2) Open up the \windows\fonts folder (Either in Windows Explorer or in Start > Settings > Fonts). Highlight Times New Roman, and then press control+c.Then go to \change-fonts\old and press control+v. You should see the font copied there.

Installing the extended version of TNR:

(1) Save (download) the extended TNR font into \change-fonts\new.

(2) Then in \windows\fonts (again, however you get there), click on File > Install New Font. In the "Add Fonts" window, uncheck "Copy fonts to Font folder". Using the search boxes, go to \change-fonts\new and select the TNR you've downloaded. Hit OK. If you're asked if you want to copy over the meagre font, say OK or Yes.

You can check that a link to extended font has been properly placed in \windows\fonts by looking at the link properties: it will be 323 Kb.

Extra: If you're interested in doing more with multinational fonts, you should have the so-called Font Properties Extension. On one of your fonts, right-click to Properties. If the Properties tab doesn't look like this, you can download ttfext.exe here. Save it in \change-fonts\new. Clicking on it will extract the program, and when you next look at a font's properties, you'll get the full suite of tabs. With this you can begin to see how extended fonts and the newer codings work.

 -- Ed Agro

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