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The @charset CSS at-rule specifies the character encoding used in the style sheet. It must be the first element in the style sheet and not be preceded by any character; as it is not a nested statement, it cannot be used inside conditional group at-rules. If several @charset at-rules are defined, only the first one is used, and it cannot be used inside a style attribute on an HTML element or inside the <style> element where the character set of the HTML page is relevant.

@charset "utf-8";

This at-rule is useful when using non-ASCII characters in some CSS properties, like content.

As there are several ways to define the character encoding of a style sheet, the browser will try the following methods in the following order (and stop as soon as one yields a result) :

  1. The value of the Unicode byte-order character placed at the beginning of the file.
  2. The value given by the charset attribute of the Content-Type: HTTP header or the equivalent in the protocol used to serve the style sheet.
  3. The @charset CSS at-rule.
  4. Use the character encoding defined by the referring document: the charset attribute of the <link> element. This method is obsoleted in HTML5 and must not be used.
  5. Assume that the document is UTF-8


@charset "UTF-8";
@charset "iso-8859-15";


Is a <string> denoting the character encoding to be used. It must be the name of a web-safe character encoding defined in the IANA-registry, and must be double-quoted, following exactly one space character (U+0020), and immediately terminated with a semicolon. If several names are associated with an encoding, only the one marked with preferred must be used.

Formal syntax

@charset "<charset>";


@charset "UTF-8";       /* Set the encoding of the style sheet to Unicode UTF-8 */
@charset 'iso-8859-15'; /* Invalid, wrong quoting style used */
@charset  "UTF-8";      /* Invalid, more than one space */
 @charset "UTF-8";      /* Invalid, there is a character (a space) before the at-rule */
@charset UTF-8;         /* Invalid, without ' or ", the charset is not a CSS <string> */


Specification Status Comment
CSS Level 2 (Revision 1)
The definition of '@charset' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Edge Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 2.0 No support 1.5 (1.8)[1] 5.5[2] 9 4
Feature Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support 2.1 No support 1.0 (1.8) 5.5[2] 10.0 4

[1] Firefox 1.0 supported only an invalid syntax where the character encoding is not set between single or double quotes.

[2] From IE 5.5 to IE 7 included, IE also supported the invalid syntax where the character encoding is not set between single or double quotes.

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: wbamberg,