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GREP of the Month: Character Equivalents

Searching for characters when a rose is a róse is a røse…

This article appeared in Issue 83 of InDesign Magazine.

Intellectually, I understand that there is a difference between a, á, and à. As an American, I can’t actually pronounce the difference, but that’s my problem. And, of course, then there’s å, â, and ä (which are relatively common), and ã, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, and ? (which are mystifying).

But GREP is usually extremely precise in its pattern matching, so if you search for a  you will find just that one character, no more and no less. That’s sad, because sometimes you want to search for “any a, no matter the accent.” You could do that with the code [aáàåâäã?????????????] but that would be insane, especially if you had to search for several characters, each of which may or may not have an accent.

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David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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