Special Characters

REDCap is capable of displaying special characters but for a variety of reasons this is not always as easy as it should be. This page presents a number of techniques that may be helpful. They primarily relate to using the French language in REDCap but the techniques are equally applicable to other special characters.

Getting French into REDCap by copying and pasting.

If you have a Word (or other) document containing French translations you can copy and paste the French directly from the document into REDCap. Provided you are not editing the Data Dictionary using Excel this should be fine. If you download the Data Dictionary and edit it with Excel you can have problems.

The issue is that Excel does not give you control over the encoding it uses to save the data file. REDCap saves the file with one character encoding and Excel will change it to another. As a result, when you upload the data dictionary back into REDCap the special characters, accents, etc. may be displayed as question marks, spaces or black squares. There are two possible solutions to this problem:

Using HTML to insert special characters

REDCap includes partial support for html in question labels. Not all tags are allowed but you can insert symbols. In fact when the text containing the symbol is saved REDCap will automatically convert it into the correct representation. This is currently our preferred approach for entering symbols. 

The html language represents symbols by name (otherwise known as entity) or by number, which may be decimal or hexadecimal. The symbol is inserted by wrapping it in and ampersand and semi colon. For example to insert the Greek letter Mu simply type μ Here's what it looks like in REDCap:

And it displays like this:

Penn State have a good page on the subject here.

We have a list of codes here.

A more detailed discussion regarding HTML in REDCap can be found here.

Using ALT codes to insert special characters.

To type accents with ALT codes, hold down the ALT key, then on the numeric keypad type the three or four digits listed here. When you release the ALT key, the character will appear. This should work in any application! These are the ones we find most useful:

Bullet (•)   ALT + 7

Degree (°) ALT + 248

Superscript 2 (²) ALT + 253

Micro (µ) ALT + 230

Copyright (©) ALT+0169

Registered Trademark (®) ALT + 0174  

A full list can be found here: http://www.altcodes.org/