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3 steps to correct message encoding


Sometimes you might encounter an issue in which the regional characters in your signatures (like ü, ä etc.) are not displayed correctly - instead of the actual characters you see strings of "?" signs.


This is most probably connected with some incorrect encoding settings, which can be changed either in Exchange Server or in your MS Outlook clients. Another cause of such issues can be the signature files themselves, saved in a different encoding format than the one which regional characters require to be properly displayed.

European regional characters (like German or Swedish) require the UTF-8 encoding protocol (Central European). So if the encoding in your environment is set e.g. to ASCII, the regional characters will not be displayed correctly. Therefore, the encoding must be changed in all the required locations.

The four things you need to check when you notice the "?" strings in your signatures are:

  1. Correct encoding of messages in MS Outlook clients.
  2. Correct global encoding format in Exchange Server.
  3. Correct global OWA encoding format.
  4. Correct encoding format in the actual footer template. In order to check that, first you need to find the signature file in the Templates folder (for CodeTwo Exchange Rules 2007 2.x., 2010 v 1.x.) or in

    C:\ProgramData\CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro\Rules

    for CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro (and for Exchange Rules 2007 3.x, 2010 2.x and 2013 1.x). Then, open the file using Windows Notepad. Click File, Save as and select the correct encoding (Fig. 1.).

Fig. 1. Choosing the encoding format for the footer template.

If none of the solutions above proves helpful, you could try a workaround to the encoding issue and use the Force email format action in CodeTwo Exchange Rules Pro. This will allow you to automatically convert all plain text emails to HTML - and since the encoding issue is almost exclusive to TXT-formatted messages, the problem should be solved. Each plain text email will be converted to the HTML format and all the regional characters will be correctly displayed, regardless of the encoding settings. 

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