Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Editing/Syntax highlighting of special characters

Syntax highlighting of special characters

  • Problem: In the Wikipedia 2017 wikitext editor, special characters are not highlighted. This makes it difficult to distinguish between em- and en- dashes. In the previous but not officially supported editor, the em- and en- dash had either an m or n above the dash to let the editor know which one was in use. Because I cannot tell which dash is in the text, I find myself deleting the old dash and inserting the correct one to make sure the correct one is in the final copy.
While the minus special character looks slightly different than the em- or en- dash, it is hard to see on its own. The minus special character is important for articles with mathematical formulas.
  • Who would benefit: Anyone who edits Wikipedia and is concerned about the correct use of special characters, specifically the dashes.
  • Proposed solution: Some sort of syntax highlighting for special characters. How it was done before is good enough for me. Others might have a better solution—just don't make it so you have to hover the mouse pointer over it.
  • More comments:


  • "the old editor" - that was a user created editor btw, not an officially supported one. May I suggest framing the problem more generically and removing references to specific technology choices? State your problem "It is hard to distinguish/find non-visible or very similiar characters like nbsp, em-en dashes)", before discussing specific technologies. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:35, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
    • Thank you for the suggestion. Hopefully the changes I made read better. I had no idea the older editor was not officially supported and user created—it was simply the editor I always remember using. It's also the default if I don't choose the "new" editor as a beta feature.PopularOutcast (talk) 23:05, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
      • Some of them are, and some of them aren't – and there are a lot of them. See mw:Editor for one (possibly incomplete) list. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 20:03, 2 November 2018 (UTC)
  • No matter how one chooses to describe the problem, there are characters which cannot be easily visually distinguished. Some way to identify them would be useful. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 11:53, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
  • You could also add non-Latin characters that are basically visually identical to latin characters (e.g., А and A, use ctrl-find, they're not the same character). GMGtalk 12:15, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Side effect of this should be replacing   with e.g. colored space-like character (), so readability of source text will be better. JAn Dudík (talk) 12:40, 30 October 2018 (UTC)
  • I have run into other editors with this problem as well. There was some desire to enter the characters as HTML entities like — which I think makes wikitext harder to read and edit, especially for novice editors. One important change that got consensus in that discussion was that on the English Wikipedia, the "insert character" widget below the edit box needs to have hover text that gives the name of each character. Otherwise it's hard to know if you are inserting an emdash, endash, hyphen, or minus. -- Beland (talk) 19:09, 4 November 2018 (UTC)


  •   Support Debenben (talk) 18:32, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support PopularOutcast (talk) 00:21, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Also agree with JAn Dudík's comment. re   Akme (talk) 04:12, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 08:01, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Tractopelle-jaune (talk) 09:45, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Libcub (talk) 10:46, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support I have had this problem with the 2010 editor too. — pythoncoder (talk | contribs) 19:44, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   SupportThanks for the fish! talkcontribs 20:05, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support JAn Dudík (talk) 20:13, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Szalax (talk) 09:19, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support NMaia (talk) 10:26, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Afernand74 (talk) 17:49, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   SupportTheDJ (talkcontribs) 10:55, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Especially like Beland's discussion point: when hovering above a toolbar character, about to enter it by clicking, the name of the character should be displayed so we know for sure what character we are about to enter. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:10, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
    • Small note, that technically would likely be considered to be a separate issue from this proposal. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 13:36, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Vulphere 23:31, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Novak Watchmen (talk) 00:37, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support There should be more guidance and highlights for special characters etc. RIT RAJARSHI (talk) 19:25, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Nihlus 22:24, 21 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Siddhant (talk) 01:07, 23 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Pf1127 (talk) 07:06, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support BBCLCD (talk) 08:53, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Hmxhmx 10:53, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support —  HELLKNOWZ   ▎TALK   ▎enWiki 23:40, 24 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Please add also into 2010 editor too Dvorapa (talk) 13:12, 27 November 2018 (UTC)
  •   Support Daniel Case (talk) 04:23, 28 November 2018 (UTC)