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Finding Non-standard characters in a SQL Server table

Posted on 2009-04-02
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Last Modified: 2012-05-06
A bug in one of our import processes allowed non-standard characters (like Ö]¡]ÐÉ]¿)  to get imported into one of our tables.  The characters can appear at the end of a string of standard characters or they can appear in the middle of the string.   There may be only 1 non-standard character in the field, or multiple non-standard characters.  I'm not really sure which non-standard characters were included, so I can't just search for a particular character.  I need to find anything that's not A-Z or 0-9, and not a comma, apostrophe, number sign, bracket, parentheses, or other standard symbol in American English.

I need to find the records that are affected.  Is there a query I can run that will detect these non-standard characters?  I don't want to replace them yet, just to identify the affected records.
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Question by:n f
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Expert Comment

by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 24055663
this should do:
select * from yourtable
where yourfield like '%[^A-Za-z0-9]%'

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Author Comment

by:n f
ID: 24060917
I tried angelll's code, but it returned records with no special characters as well as records with special characters.  Does '%[^A-Za-z0-9]%' include spaces?
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Author Comment

by:n f
ID: 24060983
An example of some of the fields returned by angelll's code (there were many, many more)::

VALDOSTA�
ST JOHN'S
MT PEARL N
GRAND-M�RE QC G9T 2
TROIS-RIVI�RESQC G8T
NEW ALEXANDRIA
N HUNTINGDON
MT PLEASANT

Only
VALDOSTA�
GRAND-M�RE QC G9T 2
and
TROIS-RIVI�RESQC G8T
really have the special characters.

These three examples all have special characters "�".  I know those characters are in my table, but I need to find out if any others exist.
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Accepted Solution

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Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3] earned 2000 total points
ID: 24060984
if spaces should be allowed, add the space in the expression.
if you need any other character, just add it.

select * from yourtable
where yourfield like '%[^A-Za-z0-9 ]%'

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LVL 143

Expert Comment

by:Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]
ID: 24060988
for example, single quotes:
select * from yourtable
where yourfield like '%[^A-Za-z0-9 '']%'

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Author Closing Comment

by:n f
ID: 31566056
That did it!  Thanks!
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