Unicode and Accent Composer

Unicode is an industry-wide standard for representing various symbols and characters from languages around the world in a consistent manner. This allows text to easily be moved between different systems without corruption. Each character or symbol is assigned a particular code, so that any program or operating system that encounters that code knows that a certain character should be reproduced. For example, the code 00C1 is defined to represent a capital A with an acute accent (Á) and 03A3 is the capital Greek letter sigma (Σ).

In its basic form (the Basic Multilingual Plane) Unicode has space for 65,536 different characters. The first 256 characters are equivalent to the ASCII character set used in older system and programs (including version 1 of Accent Composer). The rest of the code space is used to cover all varieties of accented Latin letters, as well as alphabets for a wide range of languages, including Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bopomofo, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Georgian, Greek and Coptic, Gujarati, Gurmukhi, Hangul, Hebrew, Hiragana, Kannada, Katakana, Lao, Latin, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, and Tibetan. There is also a range of ideographs and symbols from various Chinese, Korean and other Asian languages.

Note that even though these characters are defined in the Unicode standard, most fonts will actually implement only a small selection of them. Older fonts, created before Unicode became popular, may only have the initial 256 ASCII characters defined.

The fonts that come with Windows, particularly Arial, Times New Roman and Tahoma, contain several thousand characters each and so should be able to provide most of the symbols you need. If you have Microsoft Office installed then you will also have Arial Unicode MS installed, which has over 50,000 characters. You can find other fonts that have a large number of characters and symbols through Wikipedia's Unicode typefaces page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unicode_typefaces).