Latin 9 aka iso-8859-15 in email


Why to use iso-8859-15 character set in email

First of all the euro will be our currency very soon. The normally used character set (iso-8859-1) does not contain the euro sign (€) and neither does it contain some other characters with accent and used in Europe. The iso-8859-15 (aka Latin 9) does contain those characters. Within this page I will try to explain how to configure the iso-8859-15 character set for use in some email and news clients.

Microsoft Outlook Express

Outlook Express can send messages containing euro sign and also some other characters not in iso-8859-1 character set. It does it by using Unicode (UTF-8) character set and encoding which is not widely accepted and used character set for email or news communication. Many email readers can't even handle that character set although Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Outlook Express can handle that character set.

Outlook Express can't handle iso-8859-15 by default but we can configure it to be able to read and publish by using that character set. The ideal situation would be that by default OE would use US-ASCII and only if message contains any character with accent it would use iso-8859-1 and only if iso-8859-15 specific characters are used it would use that as a character set. Unfortunately that is not possible with OE so we have to configure it as a default character set. That may also cause some problems with other email clients but most of them default to iso-8859-1 if they can't handle iso-8859-15 properly and can display most messages properly.

Install character set under Windows 95/98/ME?

  1. download the file cp_28605.nls containing the iso-8859-15 character set and place it in "\windows\system" directory.
  2. download and run file HCR.reg which contains registry changes required to add iso-8859-15 character set to system.

Install character set under Windows 2000?

  1. download the file c_28605.nls containing the iso-8859-15 character set and place it in "\windows\system" directory.
  2. download and run file HCR_W2K.reg which contains registry changes required to add iso-8859-15 character set to system.

Once you have done that you should close OE if it is running and restart it. In some cases the change may require you to restart the whole system. (My own Windows ME did not require restart.)

Windows XP has native support for Latin 9 character set

You do not need to install anything. Just configure your OE as described below.

Configure Outlook Express

With these screenshots from Outlook Express 6 I will try to explain how to make the configuration changes.

  1. Select From Tools menu the Options...

  2. At Options dialog, Select the Send tab and click the International settings... button.

  3. For Default encoding find and select Latin 9 (ISO) from pull down menu and click the OK button.

  4. At Options dialog, Select the Read tab and click the Fonts... button.

  5. At Fonts dialog, Select the Western European to Font settings and Latin 9 (ISO) to Encoding. Finally you should see "Default encoding: Western European" and you can click Set as Default and OK buttons. (You may select you favorite fonts to used for message reading as long as euro sign is supported by that font.)

  6. At Options dialog, Click OK.

Now you should be able to read and publish email and news messages with iso-8859-15 (Latin 9) character set if you have Euro sign font update installed on your Windows.


Currently all I have done is that I changed Pine's~/.pinerc configuration file to contain line


instead of line


which was the default in my installation. Now I can read and send email messages using iso-8859-15 character set.

While I am using my Linux machine with Teraterm SSH at Windows I have either some font based problem or some other settings are required in my Linux machine but all characters shown on my terminal are from iso-8859-1 character set. That will need more debugging.
I tested with latest snapshot of PuTTY SSH client for Win32 and with character setting iso-8859-15:1999 (Latin 9; euro) there was no problem with showing of the proper character set. It seems that it is question about terminal settings which is not related to email clients and can be documented separate document.


My friend gave me his configuration settings for Mutt so I have not tested these but those should be valid. You have to locate the charset configuration line from your ~/.mutt/muttrc file and change the character set settings as below.

set charset="iso-8859-15"
set send_charset="us-ascii:iso-8859-1:iso-8859-15"
set use_8bitmime
set allow_8bit

For a newer version 1.4 or newer you should set display and send character sets separately. That is done by setting both charset and send_charset. With earlier version you may not set send_charset and mutt may give an error message if you do that. I have not tested it with versions older than 1.4.

This configuration sets Mutt to use the first character set into which the text can be converted exactly while sending the message and display all messages using character set iso-8859-15.


Thanks for the author of a french web page "OE et iso-8859-15; L'Euro est arrivé ! ;-)". That page explained me how to set the Latin 9 in Outlook Express and couraged me to create this page.

Copyright © 2001, 2002 Janne K Edelman.

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