As metadata spreadsheets exchange hands and are often even created from diverse sources, issues arise regarding diacritics. These characters often do no translate from encoding to encoding, creating poor results in the resultant MODS metadata files.
Encoding problems will appear as black rectangular three letter "blocks" in Notepad++ or diamond shaped question marks in Archivist Utility.
Based on our experience with French language diacritics, the following process allowed MODS to be created without the numerous encoding problems that we initially encountered with the French Revolutionary Pamphlets (u0002_0000006).
To do these steps, you will need a Windows computer with: Microsoft Excel and NotePad ++. You will also need the TextFX plusing for NotePad ++. To get plugins for NotePad++ refer to the application documentation with regard to the Plugin Manager.
This method uses a tab delimited text export of the metadata spreadsheet. Note: If the Excel file is in the legacy .xls format, first convert it to .xlsx prior to export.
- Open the file in NotePad ++ and choose "Encode in UTF-8".
- Use the TextFX plugin and choose: TextFX Characters > zap all non-printable characters to #
- Do a search for all instances of "#"
- If this character shows up, it represents a diacritic -- if you have diacritics, keep this text export open as a guide for the next step
- Open the Excel spreadsheet for the collection (or collection batch)
- Use Excel's built in character map to replace all found problems in the Excel file
- To access the character map, follow this path: Insert tab - Symbols group - Symbol
- Select the character you need to replace and make sure "Unicode Hex" is selected
- Insert the character
- Close the text export and delete it (DO NOT CLOSE/DELETE THE SPREADSHEET)
- Export the metadata as a new Unicode text file
- Continue on to Making MODS
This Excel file may be useful in getting one started in searching/replacing diacritics for French language metadata.