Troubleshooting Invisible Extra Characters in String

Posted on 2013-05-14
Last Modified: 2013-06-11
Good Day Experts!

I have an odd situation I am investigating here.  One of our website funcions takes a list of values seperated by a comma or space or they can be typed in like:


Either of the 3 ways works fine and results appear on the screen.

However, a User copied values from Excel and pasted into the box.  They appear like above:


Problem is the results are not found.

My question: Is there anyway I can tell using some kind of "string viewer" what is in the contents of what is copied from Excel? I am guessing it is some kind of "odd" formatting character.

Thanks for helping,
Question by:Jimbo99999
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LVL 22

Accepted Solution

Flyster earned 250 total points
ID: 39165399
A quick and easy way to check is the LEN function. If your data is in A1, use =LEN(A1). It will give you the number of characters in that cell. If it's more than 9 then you know there's something there that is not showing.

LVL 43

Assisted Solution

by:Saqib Husain, Syed
Saqib Husain, Syed earned 125 total points
ID: 39165406
Instead of copying a cell, try copying the contents of the cell.

If the cell has a value then
select the cell
press F2
Highlight the characters
copy them

If the cell has a formula then
select the cell
press F2
press F9
copy the selection

Author Comment

ID: 39165492
The User was just trying to save time and went down the whole column and copied 20 values.  I grabbed a copy of the spreadsheet and did the same then pasted it into a variable in VB.Net.  Found a semi-colon after each value that was not visible in the spreadsheet! the website function requires the values to be seperated by a comma or space.
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LVL 22

Assisted Solution

Flyster earned 250 total points
ID: 39165653
If the user is just "pasting" into Excel, why not use Paste Special. Right-click the cell, select paste special and choose Values. This way no formatting is pasted.

Author Comment

ID: 39166119
The User is not pasting into Excel.  Instead of manually typing 20 values into the Website, they are copying the 20 values from an Excel report and pasting into the Website box.  That is where the issue was encountered...somewhere in the formatting of the range of copied cells were embedded semi-colons after the values.  It makes sense. Instead of looking for the valid 3425678, the website function was looking for 3425678:
LVL 83

Assisted Solution

CodeCruiser earned 125 total points
ID: 39167471
May be you can add some more logic to handle both , and ; as a separator?

Author Comment

ID: 39181619
We ended up just letting the Users know that if they copy from Excel they will have to delete or back space out the spacing from pasting.  Then hit the space bar to create the required space between the values.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 39239314
I did not use any of your responses to "fix" the problem.  However, I values your responses and divided up the points.


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