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Troubleshooting Display Problems for CMD Documents

Information regarding accurately viewing translation documents found through the Clearinghouse for Multilingual Documents (CMD).

Because of differences in hardware and software among personal computers, some translations on the web may not be viewable on all computers. Sometimes characters may appear as little boxes, and in other cases a variety of symbols may be present instead of the authentic characters or letters.

The specific technical reasons for these differences vary from computer to computer. This page lists things to consider that may be helpful for users who are having difficulty in accurately viewing web documents in languages other than English.

Some Considerations

  1. In general, the newer the computer’s operating system, the better equipped it will be to handle documents in multiple languages.
  2. The computer operating system should be current on all software updates and patches.
  3. The operating system may need to be configured for viewing the appropriate language(s).
  4. Some fonts may need to be added manually. A few of the languages for which fonts are sometimes reported as missing are:
    • Armenian
    • Khmer
    • Korean
    • Lao
    • Punjabi
    Missing fonts are usually available over the internet.
  5. For many of the translated Word documents posted to the California Department of Education (CDE) website and listed in the CMD, the font(s) used can be found in the header of the Word document and/or on the Document Information page within the CMD. If no font is specified in either of these locations, users will need to contact the originator of the document. Contact information can be found by registered CMD users on the Document Information page.
  6. Some documents posted to the CMD are available in the Portable Document Format (PDF). Though PDF documents may be less customizable, they are viewable by most computers that have the current version of the Adobe Reader software and may still be helpful.

The CDE is working to provide translations in Unicode fonts. The Unicode website External link opens in new window or tab. contains information regarding the benefits of Unicode. For specific information about dealing with language character display problems, the web page Display Problems External link opens in new window or tab. may be helpful.

Additional Considerations

When users view online a translation in a language that is unfamiliar to them, they may want to verify that the document is displaying properly by conferring with someone in the local community who reads and writes the language in question. Another option is to consult reference books that contain written samples of the language. Such books as Kenneth Katzner's The Languages of the World: New Edition (Routledge, 1995) or George L. Campbell's Concise Compendium of the World's Languages (Routledge, 1995) contain printed examples of numerous languages that may be compared with documents shown on the user's computer screen. Allowing for possible differences in fonts, many users find that a published sample can be helpful in verifying an accurate display of a translation. Reference books for this purpose are available from public libraries and booksellers.


The preceding is provided as information only. It is not the intent of the CDE to provide specific technical advice or recommendations. Please consult with an appropriate technical adviser before making any changes to any computer’s configuration. The CDE bears no liability for any problems that might occur as a result of the implementation of any information on this page. Any changes made to a computer are at the user’s own risk.

Questions: Clearinghouse for Multilingual Documents | | 916-319-0881 
Last Reviewed: Friday, April 19, 2024