When I visit any file under a certain file tree, emacs spits out this error:

These default coding systems were tried to encode text
in the buffer ‘ *temp file*’:
  (utf-8 (7862 . 4194279) (14646 . 4194279) (14670 . 4194291))
However, each of them encountered characters it couldn’t encode:
  utf-8 cannot encode these: \347 \347 \363

Click on a character (or switch to this window by ‘M-m w w’
and select the characters by RET) to jump to the place it appears,
where ‘M-m u C-x =’ will give information about it.

Select one of the safe coding systems listed below,
or cancel the writing with C-g and edit the buffer
   to remove or modify the problematic characters,
or specify any other coding system (and risk losing
   the problematic characters).

  raw-text no-conversion

after investigating for a bit, I found git-gutter's background timer was the culprit (with debug-on-entry on select-safe-coding-system). This first happened when trying (accidentally) to open a .xlsx with emacs on the same file tree.

How can I locate these problematic characters and remove them? is \347 is in decimal, octal or something else entirely?

I'm using spacemacs 0.999.0 @ emacs 27.1

TL;DR: how do I find the referenced problematic characters so I can remove them?

P.S.: if you saw a question that has this exact text but this P.S., it was me, I accidetally created a new account when trying to log in.

1 Answer 1


That's a character represented in octal format. You can see this by putting the cursor before ("on") it and hitting C-x =. You'll see something like this, where #o347 says it's octal 347:

Char: ç (231, #o347, #xe7, file #xE7) point=148 of 148 (99%) column=0

See also the Emacs manual, node Text Display.

Use C-q followed by the octal chars in question. You can do this any time, including during Isearch or query-replace. For example: C-s C-q 3 4 7 C-s searches for that character, and M-% C-q 3 4 7 RET RET RET does query-replace to remove occurrences of it.

  • Thanks! is there some variable I can set to prevent git-gutter from freaking out over theses characters? I cannot remove them, as they are from comments on source code (which are written in portuguese and use 'ç' and 'ó')
    – Luctins
    Jan 28 at 15:55
  • Sorry, I know nothing about git-gutter. I suggest you post a separate question about that.
    – Drew
    Jan 28 at 17:09

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