Maiasaura Maiasaura - 2 months ago 25x
R Question

Removing non-ASCII characters from data files

I've got a bunch of

files that I'm reading into R and including in a package/data folder in
format. Unfortunately the non-ASCII characters in the data fail the check. The
package has two functions to check for non-ASCII characters (
) but I can't seem to locate one to remove/clean them.

Before I explore other UNIX tools, it would be great to do this all in R so I can maintain a complete workflow from raw data to final product. Are there any existing packages/functions to help me get rid of the non-ASCII characters?


To simply remove the non-ASCII characters, you could use base R's iconv(), setting sub = "". Something like this should work:

x <- c("Ekstr\xf8m", "J\xf6reskog", "bi\xdfchen Z\xfcrcher") # e.g. from ?iconv
Encoding(x) <- "latin1"  # (just to make sure)
# [1] "Ekstrøm"         "Jöreskog"        "bißchen Zürcher"

iconv(x, "latin1", "ASCII", sub="")
# [1] "Ekstrm"        "Jreskog"       "bichen Zrcher"

To locate non-ASCII characters, or to find if there were any at all in your files, you could likely adapt the following ideas:

## Do *any* lines contain non-ASCII characters? 
any(grepl("I_WAS_NOT_ASCII", iconv(x, "latin1", "ASCII", sub="I_WAS_NOT_ASCII")))
[1] TRUE

## Find which lines (e.g. read in by readLines()) contain non-ASCII characters
grep("I_WAS_NOT_ASCII", iconv(x, "latin1", "ASCII", sub="I_WAS_NOT_ASCII"))
[1] 1 2 3