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Problems reading text files with embedded delimiters

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg125596] Problems reading text files with embedded delimiters
  • From: Mark Coleman <markspcoleman at>
  • Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2012 02:23:41 -0500 (EST)
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I'm struggling with importing a large flat file into Mathematica. The file,
which was pulled off one of my company's legacy mainframe systems,
contains about 100 fields and several million rows, including a mix of
dates, reals, and text. The fields are delimited by commas.

One of the text fields, however, is quite large and contains commas,
line feeds, carriage returns, etc -- lots of characters commonly used
as delimiters. It is also a variable length field. There does not seem
to be anything characters within the field that would allow the
specification of a simple delimiter. I've tried the default Import[]
command as well as various permutations of ReadList[] using Record,
Word, and String specifications.

I'm wondering if anyone could suggest an approach that would allow me
to read this file. More precisely, is there a way to avoid reading
characters embedded in the large text field that Mathematica thinks are field



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