Content Editor and Customer Support at Textr
The list of Unicode character is vital for businesses looking to expand their reach to new customer bases. Not only does it provide a standard character code, but it also allows you to express different languages.
In this article, we’ll cover the importance of Unicode. Then, we’ll look at the Unicode SMS character limit and how to type Unicode character on different platforms.
What is Unicode Character?
The Unicode Standard, Unicode is an encoding scheme covering all major languages and symbols. Unlike other encoding standards, it covers scripts outside of standard characters. These include Japanese, Mandarin, and Hebrew, among others.
Overall, the list of Unicode character includes 144,697 characters. It covers 159 modern and historic languages as well as emojis and symbols.
Some common examples of the list of Unicode character in sms includes:
- Standard0-255 (UTF-8) Character Set
- General Punctuation
- Mathematical symbols
- 16-bit and 32-bit emojis
- Number Forms
- Miscellaneous Technical (U+2300 to U+23FF)
- Miscellaneous Symbols (U+2600 to U+26FF)
- Dingbats (U+2700 to U+27BF)
- Emoticons (U+1F600 to U+1F64F)
- Misc Symbols and Pictographs(U+1F300 to U+1F5FF)
- Other non-Latin language scripts
The Importance of Unicode
So, why is this important? The main reasons are:
In the past, a computer could only display characters associated with its internal operating system code. This was always just one script. It meant that if your computer’s language was English, it couldn’t process characters from other languages.
2. Wider Reach
Having a unified coding standard means computers can process data in different systems without issue. It also means businesses can use systems and websites in different countries and languages with little change.
For businesses looking to improve their reach across markets, these are vital benefits.
3. Unicode is a Common Conversion Language
A big advantage of a unified encoding language is that it serves as a common conversion point. For example, if you need to convert code from one language to another, you can do so through Unicode.
It makes it much easier to process encoding schemes that might otherwise be mutually exclusive.
What is the Unicode Standard?
As mentioned, Unicode Standard is the formal name of Unicode characters. It’s particularly useful for non-Latin alphabets and other specialist characters.
Without going into too much detail, Unicode data comes in 2 forms: UTF-8 and UTF-16. They have different encoding lengths depending on the symbol being displayed. UTF-8 is a variable-length code that can be between 1 and 4 bytes, while UTF-16 is a 2-byte code.
When it comes to sending an SMS as a business, it’s worth knowing that there is a different Unicode SMS character limit. A normal SMS is 160 characters using GSM 7-bit binary code. But, as Unicode symbols take up more space, the Unicode SMS character limit is 70.
Be careful if you plan to use text-to-speech for Unicode. Not all programs support Unicode translation. It means some will have difficulty reading the symbols. Check with the specific program you use before including Unicode symbols, as it could be detrimental to your customers.
What does this mean in real terms? In short, using Unicode in your SMS is fine, but you need to take more care with the messages you send. Bear in mind the following:
- Introducing even a single Unicode symbol will reduce the character limit to 70.
- SMS messages come in segments (each 70 characters in this case). When stitching together segments, you lose 3 character spaces in each. It means each Unicode message segment will be 67 characters.
- Emojis count as Unicode characters. 16-bit emojis count as one, while 32-bit emojis count as two.
- Most messaging platforms will notify you that you’re using Unicode characters.
How to Type Unicode Character on a Computer
Due to the limited nature of a standard computer keyboard, it’s not possible to have all 144,000 Unicode symbols at your disposal. Luckily, there are several options for how to type a Unicode character on both Windows and Mac.
How to Type a Unicode Character on Windows
Your first option is to enter the symbol’s character code. To do this, hold the Alt key and enter the numerical code. Again, you can’t expect to remember 144,000 symbols. To help with this, the Unicode Consortium has a published list of character codes. Simply refer to the relevant chart when entering a symbol.
A second option is to use your word processor’s Insert Symbol option. You’ll find this on all Microsoft programs and Google Docs, etc. The menu is usually called “Insert” and you’ll find either “Special Character” or “Symbol”. You’ll need to browse to find the symbol you want and then click to insert it.
How to Type a Unicode Character on Mac
The Insert Symbol option works on macOS word processors, too, but you can also use Mac’s Unicode Hex Input.
- Click the Apple logo and go to System Preferences.
- Go to Keyboard and open Input Sources.
- Click the + symbol and select Others.
- Find Unicode Hex Input and click Add.
Then, to type a Unicode character:
- Switch to Unicode Hex Input either in the input menu or by pressing the Function key.
- Press and hold Option.
- Type the UTF-16 code relating to the character you want to add while still holding the Option key.
- Let go of Option and your symbol should appear.
Bear in mind that macOS only accepts UTF-16 characters; you can find a list of their hex codes here.
Textr’s Text-to-Speech Feature
Textr will soon release a new text-to-speech feature for businesses, which will greatly improve workflow and customer interaction. If you use SMS marketing for your business, it’ll be a massive help.
Until then, why not use Textr’s free Carrier Look Up tool for more information about your customers’ numbers? You can send and receive messages, and get specific carrier information for mobile numbers.
Using Unicode characters offers better standardization and richer communications due to the wide range of symbols it provides. Of course, if you plan to use it in text messages, remember the Unicode SMS character limit.
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