Using HTML Entities

HTML entities are symbols that can be used throughout HTML that are identified by a special character reference, beginning with an ampersand (&) and ending with a semi-colon. These characters often are uncommon characters that cannot be found on a keyboard, or need to be escaped in HTML.

The ampersand itself, for example, can be expressed as &: &.

Another example might be a fraction, ½: ½.

Here’s a helpful tool for finding all sorts of available entities:

A description from Andy Peterson’s blog:

I recently published I created it to solve a problem I have:  trying to remember (or google) character entity numbers or names. For example, our last project used the entity » (»). Try googling this if you don’t remember the name! Now, with this tool, I can just type “>>” and the character, symbol and number appear.

It turned out to be surprisingly fun to play with. I discovered chess pieces,planet symbols, all sorts of boxes. There are a surprising number of icons to play with. What have you found that surprise you?

I initially sourced the tool with the standard 100 or so entities from W3C. Then I supplemented this with 10,000 interesting Unicode characters, and a nice set of entity synonyms from Remy Sharp (whose site is solving the same problem). Seeing that people were sometimes getting no results, I pulled in an internet jargon file for non-conventional names, and supplemented myself, by manually coding them. I am interested in adding more, but want to keep it “offline friendly”, which means not too large.

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