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Repair Text Files with mixed Line Breaks

Tutorial by Stefan Trost | Last update on 2022-04-12 | Created on 2022-03-15

Text files usually contain uniform characters for line breaks. Typically, these are the characters CR LF (#0D #0A) in text files created on Windows or the character LF (#0A) in text files stored on a Linux, macOS, or other Unix system.

However, it can be complicated if several different line break characters appear within one file. One reason for this may be, for example, that multiple text files coming from different systems were joined without paying attention to the used line breaks before.

In this tutorial, I would therefore like to show you how to deal with these files and show you a way to repair the files. We are using the program TextEncoder for this with which the line break type of text files can be changed.

  1. First, we open the affected text files in the TextEncoder. For this, the files in question can be easily dragged onto the program. Any number of files can be edited simultaneously.
  2. Then we activate the option "Line Breaks" on the right side under "Changes".
  3. Underneath we choose under "Read as" the option "Line break at each of these code points" from the drop-down box. In the text box below, we enter all code points of all line break types at which a line break should be realized. For example, if we have a text file in which the three line break types CR LF (#0D #0A), LS (#2028) and Tab (#09) occur, we can enter those line breaks comma separated as follows: "#0d#0a,#2028,#09 ". Under this list you will find further explanations regarding this option.
  4. In the drop-down box under "Save as" we select the uniform new line break type, which we want to use for our file. For example, the Windows line break CR LF.
  5. Now we can set in the "Storage Options" if we want to override our original files or want to save the converted files under a new name.
  6. Then we can click on "Convert and Save" to perform the conversion of all files in the list. All three specified types of line breaks are thus normalized and converted into the uniform line break type CR LF.

The code points in the field "Line break at each of these code points" can be defined in various ways. In the example above, we use the hexadecimal notation (for example #0d#0a). Equally, the decimal notation (13 10) is possible or the form U+000D  U+000A. All of those writing types can be mixed arbitrarily.

Also, we are not forced to define the line break characters in the form of code points. In the example, we have only done so because we are working with non-visible characters. However, if we want to read a file with readable line break characters, we can also select the option "Line break at each of these characters" and define the characters directly. For example, "a,b" when the letters "a" and "b" are our line breaks or ",",";" when lines are limited by a comma or a semicolon.

Conversion via the Command Line

The previous explanations are describing the procedure for the conversion via the graphical user interface. With the batch version of the TextEncoder, a conversion of text files is also possible via the command line or via a script.

The example from above looks as follows when implementing it via a call from the command line and converting the file test.txt:

TextEncoder.exe -cl test.txt lb-read=customcps-#0D#0A,#2028,#09 lb=crlf

We are using the parameter lb-read with the value customcps-#0D#0A,#2028,#09 to control the reading of the file and the parameter lb=crlf to realize the storage with the line break type CR LF. Instead of customcps, we can also use the parameter customstrs in the same way when using legible characters as line break signs. For example, lb-read=customstrs-a,b for "a" and "b" as letters for line breaks.

An explanation of all parameters of the batch version can be found here.

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