Mojibake Distortion


Mojibake is a term originating from Japanese (文字化け) which refers to the incorrect or garbled display of text characters due to a mismatch or conflict in character encoding between different systems. This phenomenon often occurs when information is sent between devices that operate on different encoding formats or when a document is opened with software that doesn’t support the original encoding. As a result, one may see illegible strings of characters or symbols in place of the expected text.

Key Takeaways

  1. Mojibake is a phenomenon where text appears as illegible characters or symbols, usually due to the misinterpretation of character encoding
  2. It often occurs when text files encoded in one character encoding are opened or displayed using a different, incompatible character encoding
  3. To prevent Mojibake, it is important to ensure that the correct character encoding is used when storing, transmitting, and displaying text data.


The term “Mojibake” is important in the field of technology because it refers to the incorrect display of characters when a text is interpreted using an unintended character encoding.

This phenomenon often occurs when data is transferred between systems with different encoding standards or when software is poorly configured.

Mojibake can lead to miscommunication, loss of vital information, and a frustrating user experience, especially in a globalized world where multi-language support is critical.

Understanding and addressing the causes of Mojibake is essential for developers and system administrators to ensure proper encoding and seamless information transfer across platforms, thus promoting better communication and user satisfaction.


Mojibake is a technological phenomenon that occurs when characters within text data are improperly encoded or decoded, resulting in garbled or illegible text. Often a consequence of mismatched character encodings, Mojibake is commonly experienced when data from different languages or writing systems is transferred between various software or hardware platforms.

As globalization and the widespread use of the internet continue to connect people across the world, the importance of correctly handling and displaying multilingual text data grows increasingly significant. Mojibake inadvertently draws attention to the necessity of standardized character encoding systems that are flexible enough to encompass the linguistic diversity found within the digital domain.

One of the primary purposes of addressing Mojibake issues is to facilitate seamless communication and information exchange between users across multiple platforms and languages. By ensuring that textual data is rendered accurately and uniformly, users can avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations that may arise from garbled text.

To combat Mojibake, technologies such as Unicode have been developed to offer a consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text expressed in most of the world’s writing systems. By adopting standardized and comprehensive encoding solutions, developers and users can mitigate the prevalence of Mojibake and promote the legibility of text data within the global information landscape.

Examples of Mojibake

Mojibake refers to the incorrect or garbled display of characters when text encoded in one character set is interpreted as if it were encoded in another character set. Here are three real-world examples:

Email attachments: When sending an email with a file attachment in one language or character set (e.g., Japanese) to a recipient whose email client or attachment viewer uses another character set (e.g., ASCII), the attached file might display garbled text instead of the intended characters. This unintentional display of mojibake occurs because the recipient’s email client or attachment viewer fails to properly interpret the original sender’s character set.

Webpage display issues: When visiting a website developed in another country that uses a different character set (e.g., a Cyrillic-based website accessed from a computer using an ASCII-based setting), the webpage content may appear as mojibake due to the mismatched character encoding. In some cases, modern web browsers can detect the encoding used by a webpage and correct the display accordingly; however, if the webpage does not include proper encoding metadata, the browser may fail to recognize the correct character set and display mojibake.

Transferring documents across platforms: Sometimes, when transferring plain-text documents from one operating system or platform to another, the character encoding for the original document may not be retained or properly converted. As a result, the transferred document might contain mojibake when viewed on the new platform. For instance, transferring a document created in a Japanese version of Windows and opening it in an English version of macOS might cause mojibake, as the character sets used for each language and operating system might be different.In each of these examples, mojibake occurs due to a misinterpretation of character encoding between different systems or platforms.

Mojibake Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Mojibake?

Mojibake refers to the illegible, garbled text that appears when character encoding is handled improperly between systems or applications. It is often seen as distorted characters, symbols, or question marks in place of the intended text.

2. What causes Mojibake?

Mojibake is caused by a mismatch in character encoding between a sender and a receiver system or application. This could occur when a file or text, using a specific character encoding, is opened or interpreted by a system using a different encoding, causing the incorrect display of characters.

3. How can I fix Mojibake?

To fix Mojibake, ensure that both the sending and receiving systems use the same character encoding. You can change your system’s character encoding or convert the text using online tools or software. It is also helpful to use standard, universally accepted encodings such as UTF-8, which can represent a wide range of characters.

4. How can I prevent Mojibake in my projects?

Prevent Mojibake by specifying the character encoding in your documents or databases, using a consistent encoding format across your systems and applications, and setting server-side configurations for default encoding. Additionally, using universally recognized encodings like UTF-8 will minimize the risk of Mojibake.

5. What are the most common types of character encoding that cause Mojibake?

Some common character encoding types that may cause Mojibake include, but are not limited to, UTF-8, UTF-16, ISO 8859-1 (also known as Latin-1), and Windows-1252. Text encoded in one of these formats may become unreadable when viewed in a system that expects a different encoding.

Related Technology Terms

  • Character encoding
  • Unicode
  • UTF-8
  • Code page
  • Text corruption

Sources for More Information

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents

More Terms