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I have a problem regarding special characters that are appearing messed up on the front-end . mainly the get converted to question marks, or something like �?)

Example - Frédèric becomes Fr�d�ric.

some facts that made me puzzled:

  • This WP install is on LOCAL machine, and shares the server with at
    least 40 other installs - none of which have this problem.

  • This WP install shares also the same DB as the others .

  • My wp-config file has the collate and charset defined.

  • The DB seems fine , because when I am viewing the post in the EDITOR (back end) - all is correct , the problem is only on the FRONT end .

    • The DB seems fine (2) , opening the post in phpMyAdmin and checking the direct value - all characters are fine .
  • This problem is NOT a browser/os encoding , it was checked in 4
    different machines, 3 OS, and 9 browsers..

I have tried all the solutions which I know from past experience, which include :

  • checking the wp-config (it is ok, utf-8 defined, collate ok)
  • Checking the DB - all UTF-8
  • checking my header (<?php bloginfo('charset'); ?>) - that renders correctly as utf-8 with valid markup.
  • Open all theme files in my editor, convert encoding to UTF-8 without bom and save.

Did i missed something ? Any Ideas ??

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closed as too localized by toscho May 4 '12 at 11:32

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

And your files are written/saved in UTF-8 (Themes, Plugins)? – kaiser Jan 8 '12 at 5:23
yep - I already wrote it in the question itself. UTF-8 without BOM – user13279 Jan 8 '12 at 5:23
You wrote "Theme", not plugins. Sure you have deactivated all plugins? – kaiser Jan 8 '12 at 5:24
no. I did not deactivated any plugins, because none are installed (well, maybe askimet or hello dolly - but not activated) – user13279 Jan 8 '12 at 6:06
Why the tag htmlspecialchars-decode? Does the problem happen with TwentyEleven too? – toscho Jan 8 '12 at 16:14


Do you have <meta charset="utf-8" /> in your <head> tag? A user here fixed a similar problem with character encoding by adding this.

There are actually many Google results that come up searching for utf-8 character encoding in wordpress.

Also, does pasting the text into the HTML view of the editor and saving it make any difference?

Below is not such a good idea as @toscho explained in comments.

I am not sure if this is the best method to fix the problem but this worked for one of my clients' websites.

Find these two lines in your wp-config.php file:

define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
define('DB_COLLATE', '');

And comment them out like so:

//define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
//define('DB_COLLATE', '');
share|improve this answer
Now you risk to get mixed saved encodings. Not a good idea. – toscho Feb 20 '12 at 20:24
@toscho Correct, I'm poking around the web for a better solution and will update my answer soon. – Jared Feb 20 '12 at 20:28

Are you using htmlentities() to escape your output by any chance? If so you need to define 'UTF-8' as the third parameter.

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