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Re: How to detect 'bad' characters in expressions in the notebook?

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  • Subject: [mg113361] Re: How to detect 'bad' characters in expressions in the notebook?
  • From: Joseph Gwinn <joegwinn at>
  • Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010 06:41:08 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <ia10fv$otk$>

In article <ia10fv$otk$1 at>,
 "Nasser M. Abbasi" <nma at> wrote:

> Experts;
> I copied a Mathematica expression from a PDF file to a Mathematica 
> notebook (by using the mouse, selected the expressions and pasted it 
> into a new cell in the notebook).
> The expression looked fine, nothing that I can see wrong with it. But 
> when I execute it, Mathematica complained with an error message that did 
> not make any sense given what I have on the screen.
> I knew that there was some problem with the copy, because when I typed 
> the same exact command below it, it worked with no errors.
> But looking at the screen, both what I copied and what I typed, are 
> exactly the same. Absolutely exactly the same expressions looked the 
> same on the screen as you can see yourself by looking at the screen 
> shot, link below.
> But when I converted the commands to inputForm to compare the copied 
> command with the I typed, I saw the difference.
> In the PDF copied command, it had
> PlotRange->{}
> The arrow was the problem.
> For some reason, it remained of some encoding which did not match 
> Mathematica's own -> that one enters by typing dash followed by > which 
> then Mathematica converts automatically to a nice solid one glyph ->.
> Here is an image showing the problem
> And here is the notebook
> So, my question: was there a way I could have asked Mathematica to 
> highlight such characters as being ones which it did not recognize?
> This would have saved much time.
> I have had such problems before, where what I look at in the notebook, 
> is not what I think it is. The above is an example.
> I guess my lesson for today: next time I copy something from a PDF file 
> or other source to the notebook, I better examine each character in 
> inputForm before using it even if it did look OK on the screen.
> Sounds like so much fun.

Could be a while.

In the mean time, a faster approach would be to paste the quotation into 
a text editor like UltraEdit32 (Windows) or BBEdit (Mac or Windows), 
tell it to use the Latin 1 encodings only, and to zap gremlins, and then 
copy the surviving text and paste it into Mathematica.  This is 
efficient for large amounts of text, but for a few lines manual retyping 
is probably faster.

Joe Gwinn

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