Wonky Firefox Encoding

Ever since upgrading to Firefox 3.0 back in June of this year, I’ve had a bizarre problem with the browser. On around 10% of the sites I’d visit, the headline would be gibberish, as if the page had been encoded incorrectly. Here’s an example:

As you can see from the screencap, only the headline was affected. The rest of the text looked fine. Interestingly, if I highlighted the “gibberish text” and right-clicked on it, the proper text would displayed in the context menu (i.e. “Search Google for…”).

I troubleshot the issue as thoroughly as I could. I played with the character encodings and I made sure that the server was passing the page as TEXT/HTML and not TEXT/PLAIN. I disabled my Kaspersky Antivirus on the off chance that it was somehow messing with Firefox. I loaded up the page in Firefox’s “safe mode”. I tried creating a new Firefox profile. I tried completely uninstalling and reinstalling Firefox (including deleting any leftover files and folders, in addition to checking the “Remove my Firefox personal data and customizations” option). But nothing seemed to work.

Thankfully, a kind soul over at MozillaZine’s Firefox Support forums pointed me in the direction of my installed fonts. Some program I used installed a copy of the Helvetica font, and that was rendering the page all screwy. Once I opened the Fonts folder in Windows Explorer and moved HELV.TTF to the desktop, the page immediately began rendering correctly. Hooray!

I hadn’t thought about fonts, since only Firefox was displaying this behavior. Internet Explorer, Safari and Google Chrome all worked without complaint on my system, and the font didn’t present a problem in Firefox 2.x.

So if you have an issue where only one part of your Firefox pages are wonky… look to the fonts!

6 Replies to “Wonky Firefox Encoding”

  1. Removed all my Helvetica from the Vista fonts directory, and Geneva too, for good measure. Didn’t cure the problem, it still persists :0(

  2. Thank you so much! I’ve had this problem for a while and it has been very annoying. Problem solved now though!

  3. At long last, a solution! This has been driving me nuts for a long time and there was no help in sight until now.

    Only website that still looks wrong now is websudoku.com. Damn thing is showing me letters instead of numbers. That ain’t sudoku, that’s alphabet soup.

  4. same problem as Banana, removed all my Helvetica fonts, still having this issue. Could it be some other font? And how do I tell if it is?

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