Weird Characters When Replying in Outlook

By Alexis Rohlin

Strange characters can be inserted into your text as you type a reply to an email in Outlook that may not be easily changed or removed from the reply you are writing. Weird characters appearing in the text of a reply email in Outlook can be caused by using the wrong email encoding, AutoFormat settings in Word, wrong text formatting or a corrupted Outlook profile.

Wrong Encoding

When an email is sent, Outlook uses your location or region code to properly encode the email into a format that can be read by the receiving computer. If you are attempting to reply to an email in another language, such as Chinese, the email may be encoded incorrectly by Outlook, which causes weird characters or symbols to appear in the text. You can prevent this by changing your default encoding. Click the "File" tab. Click "Options" located under the "Help" section. Click the "Mail Format" tab. Under the "Encoding Options" there is a "Preferred encoding for outgoing messages:" drop-down list. Click on the arrow to expand the drop-down list and select "Unicode (UTF-8)" or another encoding that corresponds to the international language you are typing. Click "Apply" and click "OK."

Word Email Settings

If you are using Microsoft Word as your Outlook email text editor, the AutoCorrect and AutoFormat settings can cause weird characters to appear in your text when you reply to an email. Word automatically formats text entries, even if you do not wish it to do so, which can lead to strange symbols appearing on-screen. Turn off the Outlook Word AutoCorrect and AutoFormat settings for email in Outlook by clicking the "File" tab. Click "Options" located under the "Help" section. Click "Mail" and then click "Editor Options" located under "Compose messages." Click "Autocorrect Options" located under "AutoCorrect Options." Click the "AutoFormat as You Type" tab. Click the checked boxes to disable the AutoFormat options such as "Define styles based on your formatting." If this doesn't solve your problem, click "Tools" and select "Options." Click the "Format" tab and then click on the checked box located next to "Use Word as email editor" and click "OK."

Change Text Format

You can change the text format of your email reply by clicking on the "File" tab. Click "Options" and then click "Mail." Look for the "Compose in this message format" list. Under that list, click "Plain Text" or "HTML" and click "OK." Another culprit of strange characters is "Show Markup," which is a Word option that will display the normally invisible markings on the page that denote the start of paragraphs, spaces and tab key presses. Disable "Show Markup" by pressing "Ctrl", "Shift" and "8" simultaneously.

New Outlook Profile

Make a new email profile, as your current Outlook profile may be corrupted and this may be causing the weird characters to appear in your email reply. Click "Start" or the Windows icon located in the lower left corner of the screen. Click "Control Panel." If you do not see the Mail icon, double-click "View 32-bit Control Panel" icon. Click "Mail" and the "Mail Setup" dialog box will appear. Click "Show Profiles." Click the "General" tab. Click "Prompt for a profile to be used" under "When starting Microsoft Office Outlook, use this profile." Click "Add." Enter the new email profile name into the "Profile Name" text box and click "OK." The "E-mail Accounts" dialog box will appear on-screen. Click "Add a new e-mail account" and click "Next." Select your server type for your new email account and click "Next." Enter your account information into the text boxes and click "Next." Click "Finish" and then "OK" to finish making your new Outlook Profile.