Inserting Characters and Symbols That Aren’t on Computer or Smart Phone Keyboards

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  • Nancy Tuten

    6 November 2019

    Inserting Characters and Symbols That Aren’t on Computer or Smart Phone Keyboards

    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, Macs, and Linux systems, of course, and below you’ll find information for all three, as well as links to sites where you can find the codes for inserting even more symbols and characters.

    And at the very bottom, you’ll find information about phone and tablet apps that will allow you to insert various symbols and characters on your smart phone, as well.

    Inserting Characters and Symbols with 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 Characters and Symbols with a 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

    Casual Mac users can simply hold down the key for the letter to be accented and choose from a small menu that pops up.

    It is also possible to see where special characters and symbols are located on your keyboard; instructions for doing so are here.

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

    Inserting Characters and Symbols with the Linux OS

    Press the compose key, followed by a sequence of two or three other keys to create the symbol or special character desired. Here are a few examples:

    é (e with acute accent)  compose key, apostrophe, e

    è (e with grave accent) compose key, back tick, e

    ™ (trademark symbol) compose key, t, m

    – (en dash) compose key, minus, period

    — (em dash) compose key, minus, minus, minus

    Remember that unlike with PCs or Macs, where more two keys may have to be depressed at the same time, Linux uses a sequence, and no keys are held down at once.

    For more information, here’s a helpful article from Wikimedia.

    Inserting Characters and Symbols On a Smart Phone

    An app called Character Pad, available for Androids and iPhones, provides a vast array of symbols grouped by types, such as Extended Latin symbols, Cyrillic Extended, Subscripts & superscripts, etc. Users can select which to add in settings and avoid having to rummage through the very long complete list to find the symbols used most often.

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