UTF-8 Encoding Error

Cameron Simpson cs at zip.com.au
Fri Dec 23 01:58:15 EST 2016

On 22Dec2016 22:38, Subhabrata Banerjee <subhabangalore at gmail.com> wrote:
>I am getting the error:
>UnicodeDecodeError: 'utf8' codec can't decode byte 0x96 in position 15: invalid start byte
>as I try to read some files through TaggedCorpusReader. TaggedCorpusReader is a module
>of NLTK.
>My files are saved in ANSI format in MS-Windows default.
>I am using Python2.7 on MS-Windows 7.
>I have tried the following options till now,
>unicode(str, errors='replace')
>unicode(str, errors='ignore')
>But nothing is of much help.

It would help to see a very small program that produces your error message.

Generally you need to open text files in the same encoding used for thei text.  
Which sounds obvious, but I'm presuming you've not done that.

Normally, when you open a file you can specify the text encoding. I am not a 
Windows guy, so I do not know what "ANSI format in MS-Windows default" means at 
the encoding level.

Supposing you had a bit of code like this:

  with open("filename.txt", "r") as fp:
      for line in fp:
          # line is a Python 2 str, but is a sequence of bytes internally
          unicode_line = line.decode('utf8')
          # unicode_line is a Python 2 _unicode_ object, which is text, a 
          # sequence of Unicode codepoints

you could get an error like yours if the file _did not_ contain UTF-8 encoded 

If you used:
    unicode(str, errors='replace')
    unicode(str, errors='ignore')
I would not have expected the error you recite, but we would need to see an 
example program to be sure.

I would guess that the text in your file is not UTF-8 encoded, and that you 
need to specify the correct encoding to the .decode call.

Cameron Simpson <cs at zip.com.au>

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