How To Display Special Characters In Php

How To Articles

As a web developer, I often come across situations where I need to display special characters in PHP. It’s not always as straightforward as it seems, especially when dealing with characters like accents, emojis, or currency symbols. In this article, I’ll share some tips and techniques on how to display special characters in PHP, based on my personal experience.

Understanding Character Encoding

Before we dive into displaying special characters, it’s crucial to understand character encoding. Character encoding determines how characters are represented and stored in a computer’s memory. The most commonly used character encoding system is UTF-8, which supports a vast range of characters from various languages and symbols.

When working with special characters in PHP, it’s important to ensure that your PHP files are saved with the UTF-8 encoding. You can specify the character encoding in your PHP file by adding the following line of code at the beginning of the file:

header('Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8');

This will ensure that the PHP file is interpreted and displayed correctly with UTF-8 encoding.

Displaying Accented Characters

Accented characters are commonly used in languages like French, Spanish, and German. To display accented characters correctly in PHP, you need to make sure that the character encoding is set to UTF-8, as mentioned earlier.

If you’re retrieving data from a database, ensure that your database and table have the proper character encoding set to UTF-8. Additionally, you can use the PHP function utf8_encode() to convert any strings to UTF-8 encoding before displaying them:

$accentedString = "école";
$utf8String = utf8_encode($accentedString);
echo $utf8String;

This will correctly display the accented character “é” as “école”.

Displaying Emojis

Emojis have become an essential part of modern communication on the web. However, displaying emojis in PHP can be a bit tricky since they are not part of the standard character set.

To display emojis in PHP, you can use Unicode escape sequences. Unicode escape sequences allow you to represent characters using their hexadecimal code points. For example, the hexadecimal code point for the smiley face emoji is U+1F600.

Here’s an example of how to display the smiley face emoji:

$emoji = "😀";
echo json_decode('"' . $emoji . '"');

This will output the smiley face emoji: 😀.

Displaying Currency Symbols

When displaying currency symbols in PHP, it’s important to consider the character encoding and the font you are using. Some fonts may not include specific currency symbols, leading to incorrect or missing characters.

To display currency symbols correctly, ensure that you’re using a font that supports the desired currency symbol. Additionally, make sure that the character encoding is set to UTF-8, as mentioned earlier.

Here’s an example of how to display the Euro currency symbol:

$euroSymbol = "€";
echo json_decode('"' . $euroSymbol . '"');

This will correctly display the Euro currency symbol: €.


Displaying special characters in PHP can sometimes be challenging, but with the right understanding of character encoding and the techniques mentioned in this article, you can ensure that your special characters are displayed correctly on your webpages.

Remember to always set the character encoding to UTF-8, handle accented characters using the utf8_encode() function, use Unicode escape sequences for emojis, and ensure that the font you’re using supports currency symbols.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to display special characters in PHP without any issues and create webpages that can properly communicate and connect with your users.