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RegEx character classes in “Searching | Notepad++ User Manual”

Posted by jpluimers on 2022/02/03

I needed to search for IBAN numbers in documents and used this regular expression: [a-zA-Z]{2}[0-9]{2} ?[a-zA-Z0-9]{4} ?[0-9]{4} ?[0-9]{4} ?[0-9]{2} which supports the usual optional whitespace like in NL12 INGB 0345 6789 01.

It is based on a nice list with table of Notepad++ RegEx character classes supported at [Wayback] Searching | Notepad++ User Manual:

Character Classes
  • [set] ⇒ This indicates a set of characters, for example, [abc] means any of the literal characters ab or c. You can also use ranges by doing a hyphen between characters, for example [a-z] for any character from a to z. You can use a collating sequence in character ranges, like in [[.ch.]-[.ll.]] (these are collating sequence in Spanish).
  • [^set] ⇒ The complement of the characters in the set. For example, [^A-Za-z] means any character except an alphabetic character. Care should be taken with a complement list, as regular expressions are always multi-line, and hence [^ABC]* will match until the first AB or C (or ab or c if match case is off), including any newline characters. To confine the search to a single line, include the newline characters in the exception list, e.g. [^ABC\r\n].

Please note that the complement of a character set is often many more characters than you expect: (?-s)[^x]+ will match 1 or more instances of any non-x character, including newlines: the (?-s) search modifier turns off “dot matches newlines”, but the [^x] is not a dot ., so that class is still allowed to match newlines.

  • [[:name:]] or [[:☒:]] ⇒ The whole character class named name. For many, there is also a single-letter “short” class name, ☒. Please note: the [:name:] and [:☒:] must be inside a character class [...] to have their special meaning.
    short full name description equivalent character class
    alnum letters and digits
    alpha letters
    h blank spacing which is not a line terminator [\t\x20\xA0]
    cntrl control characters [\x00-\x1F\x7F\x81\x8D\x8F\x90\x9D]
    d digit digits
    graph graphical character, so essentially any character except for control chars, \0x7F\x80
    l lower lowercase letters
    print printable characters [\s[:graph:]]
    punct punctuation characters [!"#$%&'()*+,\-./:;<=>?@\[\\\]^_{
    s space whitespace (word or line separator) [\t\n\x0B\f\r\x20\x85\xA0\x{2028}\x{2029}]
    u upper uppercase letters
    unicode any character with code point above 255 [\x{0100}-\x{FFFF}]
    w word word characters [_\d\l\u]
    xdigit hexadecimal digits [0-9A-Fa-f]

    Note that letters include any unicode letters (ASCII letters, accented letters, and letters from a variety of other writing systems); digits include ASCII numeric digits, and anything else in Unicode that’s classified as a digit (like superscript numbers ¹²³…).

    Note that those character class names may be written in upper or lower case without changing the results. So [[:alnum:]] is the same as [[:ALNUM:]] or the mixed-case [[:AlNuM:]].

    As stated earlier, the [:name:] and [:☒:] (note the single brackets) must be a part of a surrounding character class. However, you may combine them inside one character class, such as [_[:d:]x[:upper:]=], which is a character class that would match any digit, any uppercase, the lowercase x, and the literal _ and = characters. These named classes won’t always appear with the double brackets, but they will always be inside of a character class.

    If the [:name:] or [:☒:] are accidentally not contained inside a surrounding character class, they will lose their special meaning. For example, [:upper:] is the character class matching :upe, and r; whereas [[:upper:]] is similar to [A-Z] (plus other unicode uppercase letters)

  • [^[:name:]] or [^[:☒:]] ⇒ The complement of character class named name or ☒ (matching anything not in that named class). This uses the same long names, short names, and rules as mentioned in the previous description.

–jeroen

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