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by Ray DeCosta

Q. I sometimes receive emails which contain a character that looks like a capital A with a roof over it. What is it and how can I get rid of it?

A. To simplify a very complex subject, the character is called a "circumflex-A" or "A-circ." A circumflex is an accent mark which is used in many foreign languages. In your case, it usually appears from the various character encoding routines which are used for the transmission and display of emails.

The encoding or decoding of a double-space is usually responsible for the appearance of this character. Many people insert a double-space following a period as a throw-back to the days of typewriters. Under certain conditions, email encoding routines see this as a special character and insert the "A-circ" instead of a second space.

As an email user you have very little control over how your message is encoded and the easiest way to avoid this problem is to stop using double-spaces. If you receive any email that contains "A-circs" and you must use that text in a document, you will certainly want to remove it. Simply open Notepad (Start button -- Programs -- Accessories) and paste the desired text into the new document.

Then copy and paste one of the "A-circs" into Notepad's Find and Replace routine (Edit -- Replace -- "Find what" section) and hit the "Replace All" button. In a flash, the offending "A-circs" will be gone and your edited text is ready to use in your usual word processor.

Published: Courier 7/10/11 - Page 5C