Unicode: A Primer

"UnicodeTM: A Primer" by Tony Graham (IDG Books Worldwide, ISBN 0-7645-4625-2) is the first book about the Unicode Standard, Version 3.0 (other than the standard itself). It is described by a representative of the Unicode Consortium as "the best companion book so far".

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[a] Unicode is a trademark of Unicode, Inc.

Table of Contents

  • Preface – Some words of introduction, an overview of the structure of the book, and a description of the conventions used in the book.
  • Acknowledgements – Thank yous to the many people who helped make the book possible
  • Introduction – An introduction to character set concepts
  • Chapter 1 – Introducing Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646 – A first look at the Unicode Standard, ISO/IEC 10646, and the Unicode Consortium
  • Chapter 2 – Unicode Design Basis and Principles – Summaries of the "why" of the design of the Unicode Standard
  • Chapter 3 – Structure of the Unicode Standard – Three views of the structure of the Unicode Standard: by character block, by the files in the Unicode Character Database, and by the ISO/IEC 10646 view of the Universal Character Set
  • Chapter 4 – Encodings and Transcodings – Summaries of the features of the UCS-4, UCS-2, UTF-16, UTF-7, UTF-8, UTF-EBCDIC, and UTF-32 encodings and of endianness, transcoding, and the Standard Compression Scheme for Unicode (SCSU)
  • Chapter 5 – Characters and Character Properties – Overview of the properties that a single character can have
  • Chapter 6 – Working With Text – Things you need to know when working with sequences of characters
  • Chapter 7 – CJK Ideographs and Hangul – Descriptions of the principles that guided encoding of the CJK ideographs and Korean Hangul characters in the Unicode Standard
  • Chapter 8 – Standard Issues – Conformance requirements for the Unicode Standard and ISO/IEC 10646 plus details of how to submit new scripts
  • Chapter 9 – Unicode on the Internet – Description of the growing reliance upon and support for the Unicode Standard on the Internet
  • Chapter 10 – Operating System Support – Survey of Unicode support in multiple operating systems
  • Chapter 11 – Programming Language Support – Descriptions and sample programs demonstrating the Unicode support in nine programming languages
  • Chapter 12 – Unicode and Fonts – Details about displaying Unicode text
  • Appendix A – Character Blocks – Descriptions of each of the character blocks in Unicode 3.0
  • Appendix B – Unicode Consortium Resources – Useful information about the Unicode Consortium, versions of the Unicode Standard, Unicode Technical Reports, and Unicode conferences
  • Appendix C – ISO/IEC 10646 Resources – Useful information about ISO/IEC 10646, including how to purchase the standard and tables of ISO/IEC 10646 amendments, blocks, and subsets
  • Appendix D – Other Resources – Other useful online resources
  • Glossary – A glossary
  • Bibliography – Selected resources used when writing the book
  • Index – For when the Table of Contents isn't enough

Programs and Files Written For "Unicode: A Primer"

The programs written for Chapter 9, Unicode on the Internet, and Chapter 11, Programming Language Support, are available from

Links to Web Pages

The URLs of the Web pages referred to in "Unicode: A Primer" are collected in


Known errors and omissions in "Unicode: A Primer" are collected in

If you find any errors or omissions that are not listed, please send mail to Tony Graham at tkg at

Give Your Feedback

If you have anything that you would like to say about the book – even whether or not you liked it – please send mail to Tony Graham at tkg at