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unicode characters in .m file

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Paul McKenzie
Paul McKenzie on 18 May 2017
Edited: MathWorks Support Team on 19 Feb 2021 at 15:47
Matlab claims to be Unicode compliant, but only characters whose code # is ≤255 can be saved in .m files. I can accept that Matlab code words must be in ASCII, but there should be no such constraints on characters in comments or text strings. It would be nice if useful characters, like "≈", "Ω", "≤","≥", etc., could be saved in comments. On a similar note, while a character whose code is ≥128 and ≤255 can be stored in .m files, it is not possible to include them directly in graphics labels or text; typing '\circ' (1970s LaTex convention) seems clunky compared to "Alt+0176" (or pasted from another document) for the degrees symbol(°).


Paul McKenzie
Paul McKenzie on 19 Jul 2017
While there now seem to be solutions for storing Unicode characters in .m files, I would still like a better alternative to the clunky LaTex method for special characters on plots. With the advent of Unicode, I don't see why labels, titles, and texts shouldn't be specified directly in Unicode. That would make the .m file text look like the text on the plot. (I think they call that approach 'WYSIWYG'.) Adding an 'Insert Symbol' feature to the editor would make labels, titles, and texts so much more convenient then remembering arcane \<symbol> sequences.
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 19 Jul 2017
unicode characters can be included directly for text() objects when using Interpreter Tex (the default) or Interpreter None . However, at this time unicode characters cannot be included directly for latex.

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Accepted Answer

Rahul Arora
Rahul Arora on 17 Jul 2017
Edited: Rahul Arora on 17 Jul 2017
For R2017a, the steps are similar to the ones described in The only difference is that the matlabroot/bin/lcdata.xml file no longer describes all standard locales and encodings. But you can still use this file for customizing the locale database.
For my case, the encoding is windows-1252 (you can find your encoding using the feature('locale') command), and therefore, I added the following lines to the <lcdata> ... </lcdata> block in lcdata.xml.
<encoding name="UTF-8">
<encoding_alias name="windows-1252" />
Just modify based on your own system encoding.


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Tom DeLonge
Tom DeLonge on 16 Aug 2017
being a bit late here: can I change this property for each user? Unfortunately I do not have access to lcdata.xml, I am not admin on my machine... Also lcdata.xml does not have any
entries on my machine, just a few commented lines
Andrey Kazak
Andrey Kazak on 13 May 2019
The fix does not work on 2018b for Windows.
Please suggest a workaround.
Thank you.
Rahul Arora
Rahul Arora on 28 Nov 2019
Hi Andrey
I just tried doing this on my MATLAB installation (R2019b, Windows 10) and it works fine. Please note that you have to restart MATLAB after performing the edit I suggested.

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More Answers (5)

Jan on 19 May 2017


Paul McKenzie
Paul McKenzie on 14 Sep 2019
Now R2019b is out, and the editor still cannot handle unicode. Since that's the case, why does Matlab still include the file "lcdata_utf8.xml", since it no longer provides any unicode capability?
Paul McKenzie
Paul McKenzie on 3 Apr 2020
R2020a is out and solves the problem! All .m files are saved in UTF-8 format.
Shaul Shvimmer
Shaul Shvimmer on 31 Jul 2020
I'm using MATLAB 2020a and I still have the problem - I cannot change encoding to UTF-8 using Windows 10.

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Muhammad  Kashif
Muhammad Kashif on 14 Mar 2018
Edited: Muhammad Kashif on 6 Apr 2018
Assalam O Alikum and good day all
For those using languages having Arabic script e.g. Arabic ,Urdu.
1)Change the system Locale to Urdu(Pakistan) for Urdu.For Arabic, change the system locale accordingly.
2)For displaying Urdu and Arabic in Matlab Command prompt,use the following command:
3) In the matlab editor, to make the string functions like strsplit() work properly for Urdu and Arabic, this should be the first line of code:
feature('DefaultCharacterSet', 'UTF8');
Best regards

  1 Comment

Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 14 Sep 2019
Unfortunately, slCharacterEncoding() is for Simulink use, not the MATLAB command prompt.

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Jean-Michel Rousseau
Jean-Michel Rousseau on 10 Jan 2020
Is ther any way to definitively change the 'DefaultCharacterSet' without the need to use the feature function at every start of Matlab?
I need to use 'windows-1252' and Matlab (& Simulink) always start with "UTF-8". It as recently canged after updating to the R2019b. As I can't solve the problem into R2019b (my folders and files with accent can't be used anymore without renaming them), i go back to a fresh R2016b but the problem remain :-(


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MathWorks Support Team
MathWorks Support Team on 19 Feb 2021 at 15:47
Edited: MathWorks Support Team on 19 Feb 2021 at 15:47
As of R2020a, the MATLAB Editor supports UTF-8 characters, and uses UTF-8 as the default encoding for new plain text files, including MATLAB code files with a .m extension.


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