--- a/ansi_streams.xml
+++ b/ansi_streams.xml
@@ -21,20 +21,9 @@
  </section>
 
  <section xml:id="ansi.streams.io">
-  <title>Input/Output model</title>
-
-  <para>&ECL; distinguishes between two kinds of streams: character streams
-  and byte streams. In the first kind one is only allowed to write
-  characters, either individually, with <function>write-char</function>, or
-  in chunks, with <function>write-sequence</function> or any of the Lisp
-  printer functions. The implementation of character streams in &ECL; has the
-  following shortcomings:
-  <itemizedlist>
-   <listitem><para>No support for external formats. Reading and writing is
-   performed using the 8-bit code of the character.</para></listitem>
-   <listitem><para>No support for Unicode characters. The code of large
-   characters is simply truncated.</para></listitem>
-  </itemizedlist></para>
+  <title>Stream element types</title>
+
+  <para>&ECL; distinguishes between two kinds of streams: character streams and byte streams. <emphasis>Character streams</emphasis> only accept and produce characters, either written or read individually, with <function>write-char</function> or <function>read-char</function>, or in chunks, with <function>write-sequence</function> or any of the Lisp printer functions. Character operations are conditioned by the external format, as described in <xref linkend="ansi.streams.formats"/></para>
 
   <para>The other kind are binary streams. Here input and output is performed
   in chunks of bits. Binary streams are created with the function
@@ -55,6 +44,306 @@
   header at the beginning of the file.</para>
  </section>
 
+ <section xml:id="ansi.streams.formats">
+   <title>Stream external formats</title>
+
+   <para>An <emphasis>external format</emphasis> is an encoding for characters that maps character codes to a sequence of bytes, in a one-to-one or one-to-many fashion. External formats are also known as "character encodings" in the programming world and are an essential ingredient to be able to read and write text in different languages and alphabets.</para>
+
+   <para>&ECL; has one of the most complete supports for <emphasis>external formats</emphasis>, covering all of the usual codepages from the Windows and Unix world, up to the more recent <acronym>UTF-8</acronym>, <acronym>UCS-2</acronym> and <acronym>UCS-4</acronym> formats, all of them with big and small endian variants, and considering different encodings for the newline character.</para>
+
+   <para>However, the set of supporte external formats depends on the size of the space of character codes. When &ECL; is built with Unicode support (the default option), it can represent all known characters from all known codepages, and thus all external formats are supported. However, when &ECL; is built with the restricted character set, it can only use one codepage (the one provided by the C library), with a few variants for the representation of end-of-line characters.</para>
+
+   <para>In &ECL;, an external format designator is defined recursively as either a symbol or a list of external format designators. The grammar is as follows
+<screen>external-format-designator := 
+   symbol |
+   ( {external-format-designator}+ )
+</screen>
+and the table of known symbols is shown below</para>
+
+<table xml:id="table.external-formats">
+  <title>Stream external formats</title>
+  <tgroup cols="3">
+    <thead>
+      <row>
+	<entry>Symbols</entry>
+	<entry>Codepage or encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Unicode required</entry>
+      </row>
+    </thead>
+    <tbody>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:cr</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><code>#\NewlineUnicode</code> is Carriage Return</entry>
+	<entry>No</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:crlf</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><code>#\NewlineUnicode</code> is Carriage Return followed by Linefeed</entry>
+	<entry>No</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:lf</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><code>#\NewlineUnicode</code> is Linefeed</entry>
+	<entry>No</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:little-endian</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Modify <acronym>UCS</acronym> to use little endian encoding.</entry>
+	<entry>No</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:big-endian</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Modify <acronym>UCS</acronym> to use big endian encoding.</entry>
+	<entry>No</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:utf-8</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf8</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Unicode <acronym>UTF-8</acronym></entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:ucs-2</symbol> <symbol>ext:ucs2</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf-16</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf16</symbol>
+<symbol>ext:unicode</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><acronym>UCS-2</acronym> encoding with <acronym>BOM</acronym>.</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:ucs-2le</symbol> <symbol>ext:ucs2le</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf-16le</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><acronym>UCS-2</acronym> with big-endian encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:ucs-2be</symbol> <symbol>ext:ucs2be</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf-16be</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><acronym>UCS-2</acronym> with big-endian encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:ucs-4</symbol> <symbol>ext:ucs4</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf-32</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf32</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><acronym>UCS-4</acronym> encoding with <acronym>BOM</acronym>.</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:ucs-4le</symbol> <symbol>ext:ucs4le</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf-32le</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><acronym>UCS-4</acronym> with big-endian encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>:ucs-4be</symbol> <symbol>ext:ucs4be</symbol> <symbol>ext:utf-32be</symbol></entry>
+	<entry><acronym>UCS-4</acronym> with big-endian encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-1</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-1</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-1</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp819</symbol>  <symbol>ext:ibm819</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-1 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-2</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-2</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-2</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin2</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-2 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-3</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-3</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-3</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin3</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-3 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-4</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-4</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-4</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin4</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-4 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-5</symbol> <symbol>ext:cyrillic</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-5 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-6</symbol> <symbol>ext:arabic</symbol> <symbol>ext:asmo-708</symbol> <symbol>ext:ecma-114</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-6 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-7</symbol> <symbol>ext:greek8</symbol> <symbol>ext:greek</symbol> <symbol>ext:ecma-118</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Greek encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-8</symbol> <symbol>ext:hebrew</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Hebrew encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-9</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-5</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin5</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-5 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-10</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-10</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-6</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin6</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-6 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-13</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-13</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-7</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin7</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-7 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-14</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-14</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-8</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin8</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-8 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:iso-8859-15</symbol> <symbol>ext:iso8859-15</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin-9</symbol> <symbol>ext:latin9</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Latin-7 encoding</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp437</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-437</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 437</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp850</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-850</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp850</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 850</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp852</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-852</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 852</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp855</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-855</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 855</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp860</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-860</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 860</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp861</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-861</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 861</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp862</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-862</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp862</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 862</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp863</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-863</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 863</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp864</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-864</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 864</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp865</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-865</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 865</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp866</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-866</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp866</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 866</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:dos-cp869</symbol> <symbol>ext:ibm-869</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>IBM CP 869</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp932</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-932</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp932</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 932</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp936</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-936</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp936</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 936</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp949</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-949</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp949</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 949</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp950</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-950</symbol> <symbol>ext:cp950</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 950</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1250</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1250</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-ee</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1250</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1251</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1251</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-cyrl</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1251</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1252</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1252</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-ansi</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1252</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1253</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1253</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-greek</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1253</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1254</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1254</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-turk</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1254</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1255</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1255</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-hebr</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1255</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1256</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1256</symbol> <symbol>ext:ms-arab</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1256</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1257</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1257</symbol> <symbol>ext:winbaltrim</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1257</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+
+      <row>
+	<entry><symbol>ext:windows-cp1258</symbol> <symbol>ext:windows-1258</symbol></entry>
+	<entry>Windows CP 1258</entry>
+	<entry>Yes</entry>
+      </row>
+    </tbody>
+  </tgroup>
+</table>
+
+ </section>
+
  <xi:include href="ref_c_streams.xml" xpointer="ansi.streams.c-dict" xmlns:xi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XInclude"/>
 
 </chapter>