Generally, the lower 127 values are the same from one encoding to another. These characters are the English alphabet and punctuation, plus a few other characters such as file seperators and keyboard commands (DEL, Newline, TAB, etc). Since most other charsets only differ from ASCII in the extended portion, you won't notice a difference between charsets. For example, in ASCII, "A" is |01000001|. In ISO-8859-1, "A" is still |01000001|. In UTF-8, "A" is still |01000001|. The difference between these three encodings is the characters in the extended portion of the set. The easiest way I can think to explain this is that when the leading bit is 0, most encodings are the same. When the leading bit is not 0, such as for European accent characters, the encodings differ. Also, some encodings are longer, for example, instead of the 8 bits of ASCII and ISO-8859-1, UTF16 is 16 bits in length.