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How to use the like operator with special characters.

Posted on 2013-06-02
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Last Modified: 2013-06-02
I am trying to use the Like operator in VB.net to check to see if the following characters exist within a string:

"(", "[", "{", ")", "]", "}"

The problem is that VB.net uses brackets "[]" to group a series of characters, and brackets are one of the characters that I am looking for in my string.

What is the syntax that I must use to successfully check for the above group of character's in my string including brackets?


Thank you in advance for your time.
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Question by:NevSoFly
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Assisted Solution

by:Jim P.
Jim P. earned 800 total points
ID: 39214260
For square brackets try:
like "*" & Chr(91) & "*" & Chr(93) & "*" &

Open in new window


For squiggly brackets try:
like "*" & Chr(123) & "*" & Chr(125) & "*" &

Open in new window


Here's an ASCII table.
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Expert Comment

by:ChloesDad
ID: 39214470
To match the special characters left bracket ([), question mark (?), number sign (#), and asterisk (*), enclose them in square brackets. The right bracket (]) cannot be used within a group to match itself, but it can be used outside a group as an individual character.

eg [[], [?]. [#] and [*]
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Author Comment

by:NevSoFly
ID: 39214512
I read the Microsoft example too, but was having a hard time visualizing the syntax.  So if I included the right bracket would look something like [[({)}] []] ?
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Expert Comment

by:Jim P.
ID: 39214523
When you do it using the Chr function it is handled as a literal value and not as a special character that has to be escaped.
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Accepted Solution

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ChloesDad earned 1200 total points
ID: 39214540
The right bracket is not allowed in this context

to search for either of the 6 brackets it would look like this I have added spaces for visual effect


* [   (  [[]  {  )  }  ] *

to then find a ] you would do a new LIKE *]*

so the overall logic would be

IF string LIKE "*[([[]{)}]*" OR string LIKE "*]*"
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