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Does anyone know why...

Chris James

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Granted, I am probably the least computer literate on the site. Take me too far from word processing and I am lost. Never had lessons or tutorials on how this stuff works...so I get what I paid for.

The latest posting to the story pages is one of my old works named Singer without a Song. As always I submit my work to Mike in Word and he does the conversions, formatting, whatever it entails.

The posting was going fine until we reached Chapter 11. You can see it begin halfway through the chapter here: http://awesomedude.com/chris_james/singer/swas-11-12.htm

I have seen these odd little icons before on other websites and I don't know what causes them but here they are in my story. Various punctuation marks have been replaced with a diamond shapes containing a question mark. This must mean something but whatever it is the symbol certainly distracts the reader.

I would like to know if this is something I have cued during my writing phase or if it occurs during the conversion. The error has continued in all subsequent chapters so now 12, 13 and 14 are messed up as well. Help anyone?

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Guest Dabeagle

Chris - I normally see things like that when differing versions of a product are used. For instance, I use Open Office because I won't pay for Word. However when my files are opened by someone else in a different program, say Word for instnace, it can cause some funny things - word repetition for instance.

Let's say you are using the latest version of Word and your editor uses another program and then Mike uses an older program to convert it all to html that doesn't quite have all the knowledge of your Word - you get syntax errors. At least that's my guess.

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I'm not sure, Cole, perhaps Dave has a point. The story was written about 25 years ago with the Word program I had back then. Subsequent edits, and there have been several, were also in Word...whatever was current at the time.

This version was saved as Word-97-2003 which is what all my stories have been since I joined AD. Mike made me understand that Word 2010 did not work with his formatting program and so I have been careful about that. There were no issues with the last two stories.

The only hint Dave gave me is that perhaps the story is so old that something about the early Word program made it through the transition and is messing up my punctuation. It isn't just the apostrophes, it seems to have randomly chosen several other forms of punctuation I use.

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I dispute your claim to be the least computer-savvy member here. But I thought if you wrote something in an older version of Word, and then saved it later in a newer version, the last saved copy had the later version's formatting. But most of what I know about computers is wrong, so I'm not surprised if that is, too.

I use Word 2003, and have a program installed that allows me to read .docx documents using Word 2003. Works a charm. I've heard later versions can be troublesome.


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Oh no! I'm less computer-savvy than Cole. But let's not get into a fight over that.

My stories sometimes have problems similar to Chris's. They're done as single continuous files on Word, and when the time comes I chop them up into chapters and hand them on to Mike. Occasionally all works fine. But sometimes a few chapters, or even a single one, go haywire with italics that don't take, or line spacings doubled or removed, or whatever. Why that happens, when they all come from the same original, I haven't a clue. Nor I think does Mike.

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Here's a technical answer, but there's a fix in it.

The technical explanation is that this happens when the encoding in the document and the encoding on the web page don't match. The encoding determines the character set (not font - that's different) that's used when web page is displayed. When characters in the original encoding don't exist in the destination encoding, they're swapped for something else. On my ipad, I see squares (so will most Mac users). On Windows machines you see the diamond with the question mark. The web page is saying "I don't know what this character is".

I looked at the HTML source for your latest chapter, and the encoding in the web page is "UTF-8", which is a Unicode character set and the most common one used on the Internet and it accommodates many different character sets. Later versions of Word encode in the "Western European (Windows") encoding. "Western European (Windows)" is more commonly called "Western (Windows-1252") and in browsers, is usually called a "Western" character set. All of these encodings are very very similar to UTF-8, so should be fine for everyone to use. I don't know what character set was used by old versions of Word, but I'm guessing that it's not the same and that the single quote character in it was not included in the newer encodings.

So. What to do? First, in your document most of the missing characters are Word's "smart quotes", in this case, the single quote.

What I'd suggest is to change the encoding in the document and send that to dude.

To do that:

- Open the story in Word. Doesn't matter which version as long as it's later than 2003.

- In the File menu, choose Save As... - the Save As... dialog will open. Choose the "Word-97-2003" option as you have in the past. Don't click save yet.

- Look in the dialog for the Tools menu. It's a little drop down that should be next to the Save button.

- From the Tools menu, click Web Options. The Web Options dialog will open.

- Click the Encoding tab. Change the encoding in the drop down from "Western European (Windows)" to "Unicode (UTF-8)".

- Save the file (whether you choose to overwrite the original or make a copy is up to you, but use the copy for any web publishing tasks if you go that route).

Send a chunk of this file to dude and have him test it on the site - convert/format it as he would, then publish it up and see if the encoding issue is solved.


If you come across a story that has these issues, you can change your browser encoding to match the original (in this case "Western (Windows-1252)" and the original single quotes will be restored.

- In Chrome, click the Customize button in the upper right, select Tools, and then Encoding. Change the encoding to Western (Windows-1252).

- In Firefox, open Options by clicking Firefox in the upper left. Hover on Web Developer in the menu and it will fly out. Select Character Encoding. Look at the bottom of the menu and you'll probably see UTF-8 and Western (ISO 8859-1). Select that. If that doesn't work, go back to the Character Encoding menu and select More Encodings, and select Western European, and then Western (Windows 1252).

- In Internet Explorer, right-click the page and select Encoding, and then click More. Select the Western European encoding.

Sorry this was so long and technical - but the short answer is: Change the encoding in the original document, and users can change the encoding of the pages they are viewing to match that of the original document fairly simply.

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Thank you, Hoskins! I have recently discovered, much to my dismay, that Toshiba laptops cannot be dropped kicked and retain their ability to drive one insane with Windows 8. So, with the death of my computer, I bought a reconditioned Dell that is four years old and works better and faster than my Toshiba- and uses Windows 7, praise be to whatever. However, I refuse to pay Microsoft a yearly fee to use Word, as I did before. I have gone back to Libre Office, a new fork from Open Office, which I used in the past, I found in the past that I had formatting issues when sending my Open Office docs to my editor, who used Word 2003. As I test, I saved a file in .doc format rather than the native .odt format and my editor reported no formatting issues. It is possible the new versions of Libre Office have overcome the compatibility issues of older versions of Open Office. So, if you don't want to pay for a new version of Word, the free download of Libre Office might be a good option,

I prefer Libre Office because it is open source and Open Office has now been taken over by Oracle. Boo.

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F.T., send the file to me and I'll be glad to convert it to whatever you want. Right now, I'm using MS Word 2011 (just switched from Word 2004), and once I finish the draft, I cut and paste it all into Dreamweaver to convert to HTML and preserve all the italics and boldface formatting. I keep it real simple because that's my style.

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I know what caused your problem; you switched to Smart Quotes (curly quotes) for the right single quote character partway through your story, at the sentence:

"Soon you'll be down in our neck of the woods," Alan said. "I�ll introduce you to some of my friends...

You used plain right single quote characters at the beginning of the document, as in the sentence:

He won't tell you how to use it.

The encoding in your file is UTF8 (line 8 in the HTML source is <meta charset="utf-8" />). So the problem may be with your use of a document created with a very old version of Word and bringing it into a newer version of Word and the tool Mike uses to convert Word docs to HTML may be getting confused with different character codes used for Smart Quotes between the two versions.

You can fix it by copying the curly right single quote character in the word "I�ll" into the find field in Find and Replace, then typing a single right quote ' in the replace field. Test that it works on I�ll by clicking the Replace button; if the curly single right quote character is converted to a plain single right quote character then all is good, so click the Replace All button and resubmit the file to Mike.

In the future take advantage of The Pecman's generous offer and send the rest of your files for this story to him to prep them for the web using Dreamweaver. He'll send them back as clean HTML files that will make Mike happy, and there won't be any more weird � characters showing up in this story.

Colin :icon_geek:

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The website is forcing UTF-8 on the document...which hadn't been converted to it prior to the conversion that dude does. You can see this if you change the character encoding in your web browser to Western European (Windows) instead of UTF-8, which puts the quotes back by reapplying the original charset.

The two fixes (that don't involve editing the document - your method of replacing the bad characters works too, of course) are to convert the document to UTF-8 before dude gets it, or for dude to change the encoding in the document by changing the meta charset tag to iso-8859-1, which may play hell for users on a Mac or Linux.

Pecman's method works best (that's how I'd submit a story anyway) because cutting and pasting clears out all the weird Word HTML and sets the proper charset tag.


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Any version of word after '97 should work fine. There's no reason to be concerned if you're using anything later than that, because the encoding issue only exists if your file is very old.

Also, what Cole said. If you think there might be an issue, Mike can certainly tell you if there's a problem.

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Any version of word after '97 should work fine. There's no reason to be concerned if you're using anything later than that, because the encoding issue only exists if your file is very old.

Also, what Cole said. If you think there might be an issue, Mike can certainly tell you if there's a problem.

Sadly, all my files are post-'97 Word but they don't always work fine. Some have problems (see my message on 8 Feb) that even Mike can't sort.

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I am happy to announce that the Singer without a Song story has been fixed. I thank everyone for the suggestions you posted even though I understood little of what you said. The technical side of this whole business leaves me huddled in the corner without a clue.

This took a good deal of effort and Mike is such a persistent rascal I knew he would follow through. I do know he gathered his magic elves together for assistance on the project, we should all have such elves in our pocket.

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