HTML is a quite versatile language. This means that pretty much whatever you want to express is expressable by using HTML. Some times, however, the regular character sets don't support certain letters. This is where the special characters come in.


As far as I have been able to trace, special characters have been around since HTML 1.0 - all the way, in other words. This was necesary too, as the greater than and less then (> and <) symbols were used both in the HTML code itself, and by people writing about it. To solve this problem, entities were invented.


To use one of these entities, you begin with an ampersand (&), then the entity, and finally the semicolon (;) sign. That way, the browser knows to interpret the sign you are using as something else than regular text, namely HTML entities.

If you want to write the actual ampersand sign, you would wite "&amp;" in your code. When the web browser reads this, it shows an "&" sign, and everybody is happy.

As you can see from the listings, often the entity shows up as &something; instead of what you want it to show up as. Sadly, this is because not all browsers support all the entities, because you are missing a font, etc. You might try the ASCII code (looks like &#291;) instead, but if it then doesn't show up, this makes your code even less readable. :)


For a complete list of HTML special characters, check out the HTML symbol reference. For info on how to use them on E2, you might want to look at E2 FAQ: Using Special HTML Characters