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Searching and reporting on special characters in a spreadsheet

7 - Meteor

We have spreadsheets for which we have to check for special characters amongst the data. We have to check for the following


&,  &#,  /~*,  --,  <,  >,  ‘,  “,  ’,  Carriage Return,  Line Feed,  #. \. '

(Commas excluded)


I would like to report in the form of a error messages like:


AG18 - Special Character "&'" found 

M14 - Special Character "Line Feed" found 

T16 - Special Character "Line Feed" found


(We can't modify the spreadsheet without permission, we're tasked with finding things like this and reporting back)


The only way I can think of doing this is to have a filter for each character and for each column. Since our spreadsheets go to Column AH I can't imagine creating 422 filter tools for each tab. There's got to be a better tool for something like this.


For all my other checks I do a filter tool, send it to a "Report Text" tool which provides the error message and on it goes to a Union, and a render.....

Alteryx Certified Partner
Alteryx Certified Partner



Think TRANSPOSE!  If your data is named with column headers, here's an example:




202|2017-12-19|Mark & Gina


You can use a RECORDID tool and get a Row number and then TRANSPOSE the incoming data on ROW (as the key) and all other fields as data.  Now your output will be:








2|NAME|Mark & Gina


Now you can use a FORMULA to create a new field via regular expressions to see what weird stuff you found.  FILTER on IsNull([STUFF]) and take the False output to see what was found where and in which rows.




Alteryx ACE & Top Community Contributor

Chaos reigns within. Repent, reflect and reboot. Order shall return.
7 - Meteor

Absolutely Brilliant! That solved another (simpler) problem of how to report columns of missing required fields as well.


Many thanks!