Unicode provides a unique number for every character, no matter what the platform, no matter what the program, no matter what the language.
- Unicode Consortium
Aside from the occasional flourish, (e.g. café), the English language has benefited from the lack of diacritics when it comes to computer use. Non-English and particularly non-Roman languages use characters not found on the standard qwerty keyboard layout.
In New Zealand, the Māori language long-vowel sound indicated by a ‘bar’ (macron) glyph above the vowel character. In print, using macronised vowels may require creating a custom typeface; typically replacing the keystroke for the German umlaut (‘double-dot’) character with the macron. When authoring a webpage, the macron can be set using a Unicode identifier.
The Unicode identifier for any character can be specified in one of three ways, as a:
Characters that require unicode identifiers are often referred to generically as ‘special characters’, as they must be entered using a series of non-standard keystrokes. For example, using decimal notation, an opening single quotation mark must be entered using the code: