We are all familiar with the white question mark inside of a black diamond (�) when there is an encoding issue. Does this 'character' have an offical name? Or is it only referred to as the 'white question mark inside of a black diamond'? What would that name be if it has one?

3 Answers 3




It's called "Replacement Character". See the related Wikipedia page.

U+FFFD �​: "replacement character" used to replace an unknown or unprintable character.

  • 2
    so, how do we replace the replacement character? i mean what is its ascii code? so i can select it via sql, e.g. char(226) for â
    – mars-o
    Apr 15, 2014 at 5:46
  • ASCII goes up to 128, and ISO-8859-1 (Latin 1) up to 256, a single byte. If you wanted to replace this character, you might have to do so by splitting the 2 bytes it into 2 characters of 1 byte each: \xFF and \xFD.
    – Pysis
    Dec 24, 2017 at 15:26

In Excel if the string "Women photographers � New Zealand" is in cell C5, then =SUBSTITUTE(C5,MID(C5,SEARCH("New",C5)-3,3),"--") will remove the replacement character to give you "Women photographers -- New Zealand".

  • 3
    That is not an answer  to the question that was asked.
    – Scott
    Oct 19, 2018 at 3:47
  • Not directly Scott, no. I was answering mars-o's question "how do we replace the replacement character?" with an Excel slant, as the same problem occurs in that environment also. That is how I got here in the first place - before I worked out my own solution. Cheers. Oct 19, 2018 at 4:56

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