Strange L-SEP characters appearing in Word 2010
Thread poster: Gail Bond

Gail Bond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:16
Member (2009)
French to English
Mar 27, 2013


The other day, a client sent me a Word file and when I opened it there were a few strange characters. I'm not sure how to do screenshots, but basically they were little rectangular boxes with a dotted outline, with the letter L at the top and SEP underneath. When I loaded the file into my CAT tool, it converted these into a square symbol, which I just copied across into the target. I just presumed it was a one-off for this client.

Since then, though, I've noticed other Word files from other clients are coming through the same way. I'm beginning to think it's a setting in Word, although I'm not aware of changing anything.

I attempted to find an answer online and found some stuff about Unicode, but it's all a bit over my headicon_frown.gif

Can any clever person tell me:
- what's going on;
- can I just delete them, and if so how would I search for them all to delete them all at once;
- better still, is there a way to stop this happening?

Thank you!


Tony M
Local time: 15:16
French to English
+ ...
Similar issues but no solution Mar 27, 2013

I too have encountered similar issues in the past, but have never quite got to the bottom of it.

You do sometimes notice characters like this in documents, and I have always put it down to incompatible character sets — the plain rectangle simply means that this or that character simply doesn't exist in a particular font or encoding, but I think the other character you mention fulfils a similar but more specific function.

I've always found that it is not possible to search-and-replace for them, as they are very often place-holders for different characters each time — for example, in one customer's documents, I get the 'empty rectangle' symbol for non-breaking spaces!

Working on a copy of your document, you could try, for example, 'select all' and changing the font to see if the 'proper' characters are revealed?

Like you say, this is almost certainly a question of encoding — but like you, that's something I know nothing about! Just for info, during the period was changing character sets, some of the unsatisfactory conversions included a symbol similar to the one you describe — which would tend to confirm your research.

It might be worth copying a sample of text across to a .txt format, and see if that either reveals the true character, or gets rid of them for you; if so, that might be another avenue to explore...

[Edited at 2013-03-27 11:53 GMT]


esperantisto  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Not a screenshot, but a file Mar 27, 2013

I'm not sure how to do screenshots, but basically they were little rectangular boxes with a dotted outline

When you encounter problem with files, you’d better share files, because screenshots only confirm that you see something wrong but rarely give any clue to the cause of the problem.


Gail Bond  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:16
Member (2009)
French to English
Curioser and curioser... Mar 27, 2013

Hi Tony,

I tried copying the offending text into a .txt file, and the characters turned into question marks that made no sense in their position so the characters certainly weren't intended to be question marks. Otherwise, I tried selecting other fonts and, hey presto, the characters disappeared altogether and just left a double space! Bizarre...

Either way, I'm beginning to think that deleting them won't have an adverse effect on the file; quite the contrary in fact, as if I leave them in I risk having double spaces all over the place.

Thanks anyway!


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Strange L-SEP characters appearing in Word 2010

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