This is related to Very Inaccurate Geocodes in Canada (Quebec).

It has come to my attention that the streets file I use as my address locator in Canada uses French (or simply accented) characters for the names. These show up in similar manners to the following:

De la Riviàre-du-Lac
Franúois-de Villars

The Address product, however, uses standard (Oops, my Ameri-centrism is showing?) English characters, causing the previous examples to display like so:

De la Riviere-du-Lac
Francois-de Villars

I believe the geocoding would fair much better if the street names actually matched via the same character set. How would you recommend I go about converting from one to the other? I have considered regex'ing it, but I thought I would ask around before I start.

P.S. It would be nice if I didn't get garbage text from French characters, regardless. All the info is stored in Geodatabases, by the way, if that matters at all. I'm on Arc10, as well.

P.P.S. It would appear that I can display accented characters just fine, but in the Shapefiles and GDB Feature Classes, they become garbage text. Is there some setting I am missing here? CURIOUS: It would seem that in one street product the names come up garbage, but in the other they display just fine.

2 Answers 2


That isn't garbage, that's UTF-8 being displayed as CP1252.

This Stackoverflow topic may help you on your way, as may this one (if you're in Python).


As Jason pointed out you've got a mismatch between the character set of the data and the character set of locator. It's probably the geodb that doesn't match the data and vice versa. Make sure the geodb is in UTF-8.

If you want to retain the accented characters and still get 100% match with the unaccented spellings, store unaccented versions of the names in an alternate name table and configure your address locator to search it as well.

See Jason's links for methods of converting the names.

NOTE: Once you correct the character encoding mismatch, try the locator before creating the alternate names table. I'm not sure if it will do an automatic conversion for you.

  • Thanks for the tips. Found out that it was lacking a .cpg file. Creating one with the same name as the shp/dbf and adding "UTF-8" to it fixed the funky text issue, at least.
    – Nathanus
    Aug 8, 2011 at 21:59
  • Not sure how to fix that in a geodatabase, though.
    – Nathanus
    Aug 8, 2011 at 22:05
  • What is the encoding of the geodatabase? If it's a file geodb it should default to UTF-8 or UTF-16.
    – Sean
    Aug 9, 2011 at 14:19
  • It's set to UTF-16, but the display of the characters did not change.
    – Nathanus
    Aug 9, 2011 at 14:30
  • I'm guessing the data was imported incorrectly. Did it come from the shapefile? If so, reimport now that you've added the correct encoding to the shapefile.
    – Sean
    Aug 9, 2011 at 14:52

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