How to Fix Character Encoding Problem in WordPress

How to Fix Character Encoding Problem in WordPress

If you are a WordPress user, you may have encountered the character encoding problem at some point. This issue can lead to distorted text, garbled characters, and overall poor user experience on your website. However, fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the process of fixing the character encoding problem in WordPress, ensuring that your content appears correctly and professionally.


Understanding Character Encoding

Before diving into the solution, let’s briefly understand what character encoding means. Character encoding is a system that assigns numeric codes to characters, enabling computers to interpret and display them correctly. In WordPress, the most common character encoding scheme is UTF-8, which supports a wide range of characters from various languages and scripts.


Identifying the Character Encoding Problem

The first step in resolving the character encoding problem is to identify whether your WordPress website is indeed affected. Here are some common signs to look out for:

1. Garbled or Misrepresented Characters

When you notice strange symbols or gibberish in place of regular characters, it indicates a character encoding issue. The text may appear jumbled or unreadable, affecting the readability and comprehension of your content.

2. Display Issues with Special Characters

If you have special characters, such as accented letters or symbols, that do not display correctly, it is a clear indication of a character encoding problem. These characters may appear as question marks or boxes instead.

3. Problems with Language-Specific Characters

Certain languages have unique characters that may not render correctly if the character encoding is not set up properly. If you find that the characters specific to your language are not displaying as intended, it’s a sign that character encoding needs attention.


Fixing the Character Encoding Problem

Now that we have identified the character encoding problem, let’s move on to the solution. Follow these steps to fix the issue and ensure proper character rendering on your WordPress website:

Step 1: Backup Your Website

Before making any changes, it’s crucial to create a backup of your WordPress website. This precautionary measure ensures that you can revert to the previous state if any unexpected issues occur during the process.

Step 2: Check the Database Charset and Collation

WordPress stores its content in a database, and it is essential to ensure that the database charset and collation are correctly set. To check and modify these settings, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your website’s hosting account and access phpMyAdmin or a similar database management tool.
  2. Select the database associated with your WordPress installation.
  3. Look for the table named wp-config.php and click on it.
  4. Under the Table Structure tab, ensure that the Collation column is set to utf8mb4_unicode_ci.
  5. If the collation is different, click on the Change link next to the table and select utf8mb4_unicode_ci from the dropdown menu.
  6. Save the changes.

Step 3: Verify the WordPress Configuration File

The next step is to verify the character encoding settings in the WordPress configuration file (wp-config.php). Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Access your website’s files via FTP or a file manager provided by your hosting provider.
  2. Locate the wp-config.php file in the root directory.
  3. Download a copy of the wp-config.php file to your local computer as a backup.
  4. Open the file using a text editor.
  5. Look for the following line of code: define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
  6. If the line is missing or set to a different charset, replace it with: define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8mb4');
  7. Save the changes and upload the modified wp-config.php file back to the server.

Step 4: Update WordPress Language Settings

WordPress allows you to set the language for your website, which also affects the character encoding. To update the language settings, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard.
  2. Go to Settings and select General.
  3. Locate the Site Language option and choose the appropriate language for your website.
  4. Click on the Save Changes button to apply the new language settings.

Step 5: Adjusting Theme and Plugin Files

In some cases, the character encoding problem may be caused by incorrect encoding settings within your theme or plugin files. To fix this, you can manually adjust the encoding settings by following these steps:

  1. Connect to your WordPress site using an FTP client or the file manager provided by your hosting provider.
  2. Navigate to the directory where your theme files are located (usually “wp-content/themes”).
  3. Open the theme files using a text editor.
  4. Look for any instances of incorrect character encoding declarations, such as “iso-8859-1” or “windows-1252”.
  5. Replace the incorrect encoding declarations with “UTF-8”.
  6. Save the changes and upload the modified files back to your server.

Step 6: Using Plugins to Fix the Character Encoding Problem

If manually adjusting theme and plugin files seems daunting, you can also use WordPress plugins to fix the character encoding problem. Some popular plugins that can help with character encoding issues include:

Install and activate the plugin of your choice from the WordPress plugin repository, and follow the provided instructions to configure and resolve character encoding problems.

Step 7: Clear Cache and Test the Website

After implementing the above steps, it is essential to clear your website’s cache to ensure the changes take effect. Additionally, thoroughly test your website’s pages to confirm that the character encoding problem is resolved.

Step 5: Clear Cache and Test the Website

After implementing the above steps, it is essential to clear your website’s cache to ensure the changes take effect. Additionally, thoroughly test your website’s pages to confirm that the character encoding problem is resolved.


Testing and Verifying the Changes

After implementing the necessary changes, it’s crucial to test and verify if the character encoding problem has been resolved. Here are some steps you can take to ensure everything is working correctly:

  1. Clear your browser cache and refresh the affected pages on your WordPress site.
  2. Check if the special characters are now displayed correctly.
  3. Verify that links and formatting appear as intended.
  4. Test different sections of your site, including posts, pages, and comments, to ensure consistent character encoding.

Additional Tips for Character Encoding in WordPress

To prevent character encoding issues in the future and maintain optimal performance, consider the following tips:

  • Always use the UTF-8 character encoding scheme for your WordPress site.
  • Avoid copying and pasting text directly from word processors or other sources that may have different encodings.
  • Regularly update WordPress core, themes, and plugins to ensure compatibility with the latest encoding standards.
  • Use web development tools like W3C Markup Validation Service to check for encoding errors.
  • Consult with your hosting provider if you suspect server-side encoding issues.


Character encoding problems can disrupt the visual integrity of your WordPress website. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can effectively fix the character encoding problem and ensure that your content is displayed correctly. Remember to double-check all settings, create backups, and test your website thoroughly to provide a seamless and user-friendly experience to your visitors.

Implement these solutions today and bid farewell to character encoding issues on your WordPress site!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Special characters may display incorrectly due to character encoding problems. Ensuring that your WordPress site uses UTF-8 encoding can help resolve these issues.

Yes, you can use WordPress plugins specifically designed to address character encoding issues. These plugins can automatically handle the necessary adjustments for you.

Fixing the character encoding problem should not affect your existing content. However, it’s always recommended to create a backup before making any changes to ensure data integrity.

After implementing the necessary changes, clear your browser cache and refresh the affected pages on your WordPress site. Check if the special characters are now displayed correctly and verify links and formatting.

To prevent character encoding issues, use UTF-8 encoding, avoid copy-pasting from different sources, keep your WordPress core, themes, and plugins up to date, and utilize web development tools for validation and error detection.


Md Nasibul Alam - Web Developer and SEO Expert

Wordpress Developer & SEO Expert. My services - WordPress Bug Fixing, Speed Optimization, Hacked/Malware removal, WordPress Security, SEO, Fix WordPress issues error, Customization & Create full professional WordPress website with on-page SEO. 7 Years+ professional experience in WordPress development with SEO. I am expert in PHP, MySQL, jQuery, Ajax, html5, css3, WordPress theme & plugin development, Woo-Commerce & Multilingual WordPress website. I have created lots of websites And published few premium WordPress themes. I am a hardworking and honest entrepreneur. You will not be disappointed working with me.