Encoding, Separator, Delimiter & Escape Character

Configuring Your Product File

This guide walks you through the 4 configurable elements of Step 2: Options whilst uploading your product catalog, showing you step by step how to set up the mandatory settings and when best to use the optional ones.


This guide only applies to product files in the CSV format. If you’re using an Excel-based file (XLS or XLSX), zoovu will configure Step 2 for you.

Setting Up Encoding And Separator


Character encoding provides your computer with a system to interpret data into characters. For example, UTF-8, which has become the international encoding standard for the web, does it by assigning each character a unique number. This guarantees that your data is correctly interpreted by each application that you feed it into.

The default and recommended character encoding in zoovu is UTF-8, which covers all characters in all languages. However, if your data file relies on another encoding system, zoovu provides you with 4 other popular options:

  • ISO-8859-1 contains Latin characters and is sometimes used for Western European languages
  • Windows-1250 used for Central and Eastern European languages
  • Windows-1251 designed for languages based on the Cyrillic script
  • Windows-1252 used by Microsoft Windows for English and other Western European languages


This is the character that will tell zoovu where one value ends and another begins. The example below shows two rows of values separated by a semicolon: row 1 contains column headers that will become product attribute names in your product collection, and row 2 shows the values of these attributes for a single product.


The most commonly used separators are commas and semicolons, but zoovu allows you to use any character to separate your product values. Simply use the dropdown menu under Separator to use any of the recommended characters or provide your own by clicking “custom”.



Column mapping is case sensitive in zoovu, which is why it’s best to follow the All lowercase convention for the mandatory columns in your data file: name, price, offerurl, picture, sku. This way we’ll be able to automatically map these columns at Step 3: Map parameters. Otherwise, you’ll need to do this manually.


How To Use The Separating Character?

So far we’ve been using a data file with a semicolon to separate values. Let’s say we’d like to provide a description for our new product, Kid’s bike, that calls for a semicolon to feature as a regular character. This is where field delimiters come in handy.

Field delimiter

Put immediately before and immediately after a set of characters, the delimiter will tell zoovu to treat everything in between as a single value. This means that a character previously set as the separator won’t have any effect inside such a delimited field.



Please note how an empty value is represented in the data. There’s no description provided for Urban Commuter Bike but there’s a semicolon following “black” to signify the end of the value for attribute “color” and show the following value is blank.

For this solution to work, you simply need to specify your delimiting character in zoovu. In our example, it’s double quotation marks.



Please remember to use your delimiters carefully as one missing character will cause a different set of characters to be interpreted as a single value, generating errors while processing your data.

How To Use The Delimiting Character?

If delimiter characters are used in pairs to signify the beginning and end of a value, how to use a single one within a field? We need to use another character that will cancel out, or escape, any special effects of the character that follows.

Escape character

In your product file, put a unique character (such as \) before another to have it interpreted as a regular character without a special function. In our example, double quotation marks are used to show the size of Women’s Cruiser Bike in inches so we need to precede with the escaping character \.


One final thing to do is simply to declare \ as the escape character in zoovu.



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