The curious case of the “Upwards Arrow With Tip Rightwards” in Trados Studio

The curious case of the “Upwards Arrow With Tip Rightwards” in Trados Studio

A long struggle with a strange character that appeared in Trados Studio just came to a successful conclusion with the help of a wonderful inofficial Trados help group on Facebook. Here is the curious story of the “Upwards Arrow With Tip Rightwards” that had a number of power users stumped.

Once upon a time, I accepted a project to translate a patent from English into German, whereby the source document was sent to me in form of an innocent-looking Word file. However, after importing that document into Trados Studio 2017, the trouble began. The document was riddled with strange-looking symbols everywhere, see the two screenshots below.


Strange arrow appearing in hundreds of places in Trados Studio.

text with arrows

Sample source segment in Trados Studio, text is redacted for confidentiality.

I looked for these strange symbols in the source document, to no avail, they were not shown (and thus not search- and replaceable). After some back and forth in the aforementioned user group, I was able to determine that Studio treats these characters as whitespace characters, not as formatting or tags. According to this Wikipedia entry, the symbol itself is a so-called “upwards arrow with tip rightwards,” with unicode hex symbol U+21b1. Searching for that unicode hex symbol in Word only resulted in errors (Mac version) or “not found” messages (Windows version). Various transformations and trying to save the source document in various other formats lead nowhere. Saving the entire document as plain text and then reimporting into Word was not an option due to various intricate equations and other formatting that needed to be preserved.

After some more back and forth, thanks to the wonderful colleagues in the user group, we were able to determine that it is Studio’s way to display “left to right” bidirectionality marks. Such marks are completely superfluous in this document, which is entirely in English, and the overabundant appearance of these marks ever second word is definitely an error. In the Word for Windows version I was finally able to search for these invisible characters with “^h” and replace them with…nothing! (As an aside, the Mac version only output an error message, saying that the search for “^h” is not a valid search.) Saving the document with the thus removed bidirectionality marks resulted in a clean document. And I translated happily ever after.

The end…

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Carola F Berger


Carola F. Berger is a German-English patent translator with a PhD in physics and a master’s degree in engineering physics. She is ATA certified for translation from German into English and from English into German and owns and operates CFB Scientific Translations LLC. Carola serves as webmaster on the NCTA Board of Directors and is also the Administrator of ATA’s Science and Technology Division.

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