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How to search for a differently formatted character within a word?

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Xavier Bonet
How to search for a differently formatted character within a word?
on May 23, 2019 at 9:07:03 pm
Last Edited By Xavier Bonet on May 23, 2019 at 9:23:56 pm

I've been searching forever for a way of solving this through one way or another and I'm getting nowhere.

I have to manage text from several different languages, including those like Spanish and French, which have many "special characters" as in vowels with tilde marks, etc. (á é î û... that sort of thing). And no matter what I do, italic or bold characters that happen to be special characters tend to be placed as regular text (whereas the rest of the surrounding word and text isn't). Example:

Política or silêncio

As you can see, "pol" and "tica", and "sil" and "ncio" are correctly placed in italics but the "í" and the "ê" are in regular format.*

Now, I can't seem to find a way to avoid or fix this before it happens, i.e. before the format of special characters is changed when the text is places (it would be great if anyone knew how to do so). However, I can't find a way of searching after the fact for every instance of a regular formatted character in the middle of a word with an italic or bold format either... which is the workaround I'm thinking is my best option now.

No matter what I try out in GREP searches and/or format searches, I can't seem to find a way of doing this. So I'm basically stuck looking through an entire 300-page academic magazine trying to weed out these issues and correct them one by one before my deadline, which is tomorrow night!

Thanks in advance for any input!

*Not all instances of special characters are changed, some are OK, which is weird. Nor does it respond to a specific special character. You may find an "á" in italics and, the next line down, it's been set to regular in the middle of a word. And the font I'm using surely does have special characters available (it's Minion) in case you might think it has to do with that. I can't seem to find a reason ID would just decide some special characters have to be placed in regular formatting, no matter how they're formatted from the source.


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Kalleheikki Kannisto
Re: How to search for a differently formatted character within a word?
on May 28, 2019 at 6:46:39 pm

Only saw this now which is likely too late for your situation. However, I would look for those specific characters with the incorrect formatting and change the formatting (as needed). If you have a mixed bag with some words needing to be in italics and other needing to be regular, that would be a different matter.

Kalleheikki Kannisto
Senior Graphic Designer


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Xavier Bonet
Re: How to search for a differently formatted character within a word?
on May 29, 2019 at 2:16:50 pm

Hi! Thanks for the response. I already turned in the project but any help will be greta for the future.
Unfortunately, the way you advise is basically what I'm stuck doing now... but you must understand that these special characters aren't the exception in Spanish and French, i.e. it's not like they seldom occur... in fact, in both languages (especially in Spanish) the special characters á é í ó ú are rather common... which makes looking through all of the characters to find which are in a different format very time-consuming and impractical.
You must remember that the special characters are the ones with regular format, so I can't even narrow my search by searching only for those characters that are in italics or bold. Instead, I have to search for ALL of the instances of these characters in the entire 300-page document, which often means thousands of instances!
I'm sure there must be a way of doing it that takes into consideration format... if not the fact that that character is in a different format from that of its surrounding characters, at least to search for a special character within a word that is in italics or bold.


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Kalleheikki Kannisto
Re: How to search for a differently formatted character within a word?
on Jun 2, 2019 at 7:01:17 am

Can you upload a couple of pages from the document before the issue has been fixed, and I can take a look at how I would approach it?

Might be best to send the Word doc, so I can see if there's some way to avoid the problem coming into InDesign.

The likely solution is a rather complex search which would look for any and all of those characters in one go, that you would save somewhere in a text doc and copy&paste to the search field.

In any case, seeing the exact problem you're dealing with would ensure I understand the problem fully.

Kalleheikki Kannisto
Senior Graphic Designer


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