How to Read "Strange" Characters


What You Want to See

Many text (ASCII) files, such as those produced by GACP, contain "high" characters. These are characters from the IBM character set that were used by MSDOS programs to produce corners, lines, and boxes used in making tables or graphs etc. An example would something like that shown below.
If you have a DOS based wordprocessor, reading and printing files with these characters is not a problem.

What You Actually See

Most people, however, have moved to Windows and no longer have a DOS wordprocessor or text editor. When they try to view the above table in a program such as MS Works they may see something like

How to Fix It

There are two things wrong with the above. First, note that all lines are not exactly the same length. This is because you are using a variable pitch font, i.e., not all characters have the same width. If you use a variable pitch font the columns of the table will not line up properly. Second, note that you don't have the graphic characters at all. Microsoft has solved both problems with the "LineDraw" font. It is a font that has fixed width characters and it has the graphic characters needed to duplicate the IBM character set. It's possible that your computer already has MS LineDraw installed as a font. Bring up your wordprocessor and scroll through the available fonts to check. If you don't have it, you can download it from

http://www.winsite.com/info/pc/win3/fonts/truetype/gc0651.exe/

The actual file you download, "gc0651.exe", is a self-extracting executable file. In Windows 3.1 you can execute this file from 'Program Manager' by clicking on 'File', then clicking on 'Run'. It will extract to three files, two text files with all kinds of incomprehensible information, and a file called 'linedraw.ttf'. This is the file that counts. This is the file with the TrueType font MS LineDraw.


How To Install Fonts in Windows 3.1

Your basic Windows 3.1 installation included a program called 'Control Panel'. Click on 'Control Panel', then click on 'Fonts'. You can now see all the fonts you currently have installed, along with samples, and you have the option of installing another font. Click on the 'Add' button. Find the directory where you extracted the file 'linedraw.ttf' and you will see the font called "MS LineDraw (TrueType)". Highlight it and click on "OK". The font will be installed to your computer and you are almost home free.

But it Still Doesn't Work!

The problem is that Windows wants to "help" you. If you try to open a text file into a Windows program, the program will want to convert it to a format that it likes. Don't let it! I only have direct experience with two programs; "Write" and "MS Works". In "Write" when you open a text file it will give the choice of converting the text file to "Write" format or not. Choose "no conversion". The file will then be opened in the "Write" default font. You can now convert the whole file to the "MS LineDraw" font. In "MS Works" when you open a text file you are given the choice of "Text for DOS" or "Text for Windows". Choose "Text for Windows". Again, it will open the file in the default font and you can then change it to 'MS LineDraw' In other Windows programs, when given choices: try one; if that doesn't work, try the other.
Hope this helps. If not, please feel free to contact me.
Steve