Inserting Characters and Symbols That Aren’t on Your Keyboard

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  • Nancy Tuten

    6 November 2019

    Inserting Characters and Symbols That Aren’t on Your Keyboard

    Our word processing software and enhanced keyboards can work magic, especially in regard to inserting characters and symbols that aren’t on our Roman alphabet keyboards. 

    Lawyers and legal secretaries must type a section symbol in legal citations, whereas bankers deal in international currency and thus often type symbols for the British pound or the Japanese yen.  

    Need to type the acute accent in the name José or the grave accent in the phrase “fin de siècle” or “vis-à-vis”? No problem.

    Need to put the circumflex over the a in “coup de grâce” or the umlaut over the i in “naïve”? You can!

    Both PCs and Macs have “Insert Symbol” or “Insert Character” features that allow the user to choose a symbol or character from a visual display table, but wading through a sea of symbols can be time-consuming and frustrating. 

    Instead, a speedy alternative is to memorize the short combination of keystrokes that will allow us to insert the symbols we use most often.

    The short cuts differ for PCs and Macs, of course, and below you’ll find lists for both, as well as links to sites where you can find the codes for inserting even more symbols and characters.

    Inserting Symbols and Characters on a PC

    Using the numerical pad on the right-hand side of an enhanced keyboard, hold down the “Alternate” key while typing a three- or four-digit code. (Depending on your keyboard, you may need to be sure you are in the “Num Lock” mode.)

    Codes for legal sections and commonly used monetary characters and symbols:

    § (section symbol) Alt 0167

    £ (British pound) Alt 0163

    € (Euro) Alt 0128

    ¥ (Yen) Alt 0165

    Codes for some of the most-often-used international diacritics:

    à (lowercase a with grave accent) Alt 0224

    á (lowercase a with acute accent) Alt 0225

    â (lowercase a with circumflex) Alt 0226

    ã (lowercase a with tilde) Alt 0227

    ä (lowercase a with umlaut) Alt 0228

    æ (lowercase ae diphthong) Alt 0230

    ç (lowercase c with cedilla) Alt 0231

    è (lowercase e with grave accent) Alt 0232

    é (lowercase e with acute accent) Alt 0233

    ê (lowercase e with circumflex) Alt 0234

    ë (lowercase e with umlaut) Alt 0235

    ì (lowercase i with grave accent) Alt 0236

    í (lowercase i with acute accent) Alt 0237

    î (lowercase i with circumflex) Alt 0238

    ï (lowercase i with umlaut) Alt 0239

    ñ (lowercase n with tilde) Alt 0241

    ò (lowercase o with grave accent) Alt 0242

    ó (lowercase o with acute accent) Alt 0243

    ô (lowercase 0 with circumflex) Alt 0244

    õ (lowercase o with tilde) Alt 0245

    ö (lowercase o with umlaut) Alt 0246

    ù (lowercase u with grave accent) Alt 0249

    ú (lowercase us with acute accent) Alt 0250

    û (lowercase us with circumflex) Alt 0251

    ü (lowercase u with umlaut) Alt 0252

    ý (lowercase y with acute accent) Alt 0253

    Codes for a few other commonly used characters and symbols:

    © (copyright symbol) Alt 0169

    ® (registered trademark symbol) Alt 0174

    ° (degree symbol) Alt 0176

    ± (plus-or-minus sign) Alt 0177

    ¶ (paragraph mark) Alt 0182

    ¼ (one-forth) Alt 0188

    ½ (one-half) Alt 0189

    ¾ (three-fourths) Alt 0190

    × (multiplication sign) Alt 0215

    – (en dash) Alt 0150 (Be sure to read our article on the use of the en dash and the em dash.)

    — (em dash) Alt 0151 (Be sure to read our article on the use of the en dash and the em dash.)

    • (bullet) Alt 0149

    To download and print these and more symbols, visit Useful Shortcuts.

    Inserting Symbols and Characters on  Mac

    Hold down the “Option” key (and sometimes also another key, as indicated) while entering the appropriate number or letter.

    Codes for legal sections and commonly used monetary characters and symbols:

    § (section symbol) Option 6

    £ (British pound) Option 3

    € (Euro) Option + shift 2

    ¥ (Yen)  Option + y

    Codes for some of the most-often-used international diacritics:

    à (lowercase a with grave accent) Option + ‘ together, release, type a

    á (lowercase a with acute accent) Option + e  together, release, type a

    â (lowercase a with circumflex) Option + i together, release, type a

    ã (lowercase a with tilde) Option + n together, release, type a

    ä (lowercase a with umlaut) Option + u together, release, type a

    ç (lowercase c with cedilla) Option + c

    è (lowercase e with grave accent) Option + ‘ together, release, type e

    é (lowercase e with acute accent) Option + e together, release, type e

    ê (lowercase e with circumflex) Option + i together, release, type e

    ë (lowercase e with umlaut) Option + u together, release, type e

    ì (lowercase i with grave accent) Option + ‘ together, release, type i

    í (lowercase i with acute accent) Option + e together, release, type i

    î (lowercase i with circumflex) Option + i together, release, type i

    ï (lowercase i with umlaut) Option + u together, release, type i

    ñ (lowercase n with tilde) Option + n together, release, type n

    ò (lowercase o with grave accent) Option + ‘ together, release, type 0

    ó (lowercase o with acute accent) Option + e together, release, type o

    ô (lowercase o with circumflex) Option + i together, release, type o

    õ (lowercase o with tilde) Option + n together, release, type 0

    ö (lowercase o with umlaut) Option + u together, release, type o

    ù (lowercase u with grave accent) Option + ‘ together, release, type u

    ú (lowercase u with acute accent) Option + e together, release, type u

    û (lowercase u with circumflex) Option + i together, release, type u

    ü  (lowercase u with umlaut) Option + u together, release, type u

    ý (lowercase y with acute accent) Option + e together, release type y

    Codes for a few other commonly used characters and symbols:

    ©  (copyright symbol) Option + g

    ® (registered trademark symbol) Option + 2

    ° (degree symbol) Option + shift + 8

    ± (plus-or-minus sign) Option + shift + =

    ¶ (paragraph mark) Option + 7

    – (en dash) Option + – (Be sure to read our article on the use of the en dash and the em dash.)

    — (em dash) Option + shift + – (Be sure to read our article on the use of the en dash and the em dash.)

    • (bullet) Option + 8

    To insert other symbols and characters on a Mac, go to this page on Web Nots.

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