Right solution to unicode error?

Prasad, Ramit ramit.prasad at jpmorgan.com
Thu Nov 8 00:07:33 CET 2012

Anders wrote:
> I've run into a Unicode error, and despite doing some googling, I
> can't figure out the right way to fix it. I have a Python 2.6 script
> that reads my Outlook 2010 task list. I'm able to read the tasks from
> Outlook and store them as a list of objects without a hitch.  But when
> I try to print the tasks' subjects, one of the tasks is generating an
> error:
> Traceback (most recent call last):
>   File "outlook_tasks.py", line 66, in <module>
>     my_tasks.dump_today_tasks()
>   File "C:\Users\Anders\code\Task List\tasks.py", line 29, in
> dump_today_tasks
>     print task.subject
> UnicodeEncodeError: 'ascii' codec can't encode character u'\u2013' in
> position 42: ordinal not in range(128)
> (where task.subject  was previously assigned the value of
> task.Subject, aka the Subject property of an Outlook 2010 TaskItem)
> From what I understand from reading online, the error is telling me
> that the subject line  contains an en dash and that Python is trying
> to convert to ascii and failing (as it should).
> Here's where I'm getting stuck.  In the code above I was just printing
> the subject so I can see whether the script is working properly.
> Ultimately what I want to do is parse the tasks I'm interested in and
> then create an HTML file containing those tasks.  Given that, what's
> the best way to fix this problem?
> BTW, if there's a clear description of the best solution for this
> particular problem - i.e., where I want to ultimately display the
> results as HTML - please feel free to refer me to the link. I tried
> reading a number of docs on the web but still feel pretty lost.

You can always encode in a non-ASCII codec. 
`print task.subject.encode(<encoding>)` where <encoding> is something that
supports the characters you want e.g. latin1. 

The list of built in codecs can be found:


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