What is with this 'numbers and letters in boxes' font? Am I missing some update? Running Windows XP sp3. I get whole pages of it if its in Japanese, but sometimes it's also here and there on English pages.

Like this example I found on SE:

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


Those characters are generally displayed when a character is encountered that doesn't have an actual representation in the given font, or is in a character encoding that the system doesn't understand. The numbers in the boxes are the character codes.

In the Japanese case, if your font doesn't have Japanese characters in it, you'll get those instead as placeholders.

In the English case, it's special characters that your font can't represent (or that your system is perhaps not decoding properly).

  • I've never played with fonts. Set to windows defaults. Should I look for a font package to DL? What is the fix?
    – Mazura
    Jun 15, 2014 at 20:53
  • @Mazura In that regional/language options control panel, in the advanced tab, you may also have options to enable Unicode support. Be sure they are checked. Also have a look at azhagi.com/uniset.html for some methods to ensure Unicode support is enabled in XP.
    – Jason C
    Jun 15, 2014 at 20:59
  • 1
    This only happens to you when using an internet browser? If so, in chrome go to: -settings, -Show advanced settings and go to the "Languages" section. In the "Web content" section, click Customize fonts, go to encoding, and change it to Unicode UTF-8. In Firefox, go to firefox button, Web Developoer, Character Encoding, change it to Unicode UTF-8
    – MauroG
    Jun 16, 2014 at 0:12
  • For Firefox I found it in: view:character encoding: Unicode. It's set as it was to plane Unicode as is default and it is the only type of Unicode on the list. Auto detect is off. What is this Firefox button? If XP is missing some now in use fonts how is there not a home-brew package to fix this?
    – Mazura
    Jun 16, 2014 at 22:19
  • @Mazura XP is very old. It is not even supported by Windows Update any more. It was released 13 years ago and was around before the general English-speaking consumer cared about Unicode support and became aware of how important it is. Since then, newer versions of Windows (Vista, 7, 8, 8.1) have been released with far better support and integration, and nobody has really focused on home-brew XP solutions. Still, you should be able to get decent support in XP regardless. Have you tried looking through the regional / language options control panel? Also do some searches for "XP unicode".
    – Jason C
    Jun 16, 2014 at 22:26

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