trying to cleanup some loose '&'s with &: thought a find and replace using \s&\s and replacing with & would do the trick. So a single & identified by a space either side. But when i try this in espresso and other regex software it doesnt match. Dont understand why. Any help?
Do you mean it never matches, or it only sometimes matches?
When you say & I hope you mean & with closing semicolon. Most browsers will display it without, but it isn't formally correct. fwiw, I always use &
If you're adding html markup to existing text, it is definitely easier to do ampersands before anything else at all. Then you can just replace them globally. (I'm speaking from an e-books perspective.)
It doesn't matter what comes before the &. You have to look at what comes after it-- and that depends on what state your text is in. A lookahead may be the best approach: &(?!#|mdash;|amp;) and so on.