Click here for an explanation of extended characters and how to create them.
While most computers attached to the Internet agree on how to generate US English letters, numbers, and punctuation, there is far less agreement as to how to handle extended characters. Recent efforts have tried to establish international standards that would eliminate these discrepancies, but at this point sending text containing extended characters over the Internet can result in strange, unexpected characters and symbols taking the place of the intended ones.
As a result, many people have developed their own e-mail "shorthand" to make up for this deficiency. (In Spain, for example, it is not uncommon to see "nn" typed instead of the letter "ñ" -- as in "hasta mannana" instead of "hasta mañana." The French letter "ç" is sometimes typed as an ordinary "c" or as some combination of a "c" and a comma.) There are, however, a few cases in which you can reliably include foreign and extended characters in e-mail.
You can send messages containing extended characters within your individual campus (that is, to people whose e-mail address is the same as yours after the "@" symbol). However, the most reliable way to do this is for both the sender and receiver to use Eudora. Using other e-mail programs, such as PINE, will not work reliably with these characters. For this reason, professors who want their students to write e-mail in foreign languages should determine what program their students use for e-mail. (In a December 1996 survey of 83 Wesleyan students, only 36% of the students said that they use Eudora for e-mail.)
If you encounter difficulty reading e-mail sent to you in another language, try changing the display font your e-mail program uses. Not all fonts make use of extended characters.
If you write regularly to people whose e-mail addresses are not the same as yours after the "@" symbol, there is no way to know without experimenting whether or not messages containing extended characters will be readable upon arrival. This is because while the computers on your campus may all handle extended characters the same way, there is no guarantee that every computer through which your message passes between you and its destination will comply with that agreement. (Note that standard US English text should work; only foreign characters and symbols will be affected.)
To maximize your chances of success with off-campus destinations, make sure that the sender and receiver are using the same e-mail program (such as Eudora), the same platform (Macintosh or Windows), and--if possible--the same display fonts.
If you have not been succesful with the above techniques, you may wish to devise a "shorthand" as methods mentioned above. Other alternatives include posting material to a World Wide Web site (see "Diacritics in HTML") or creating the document in a word processing program and attaching it to the e-mail message.