Typing Characters That Don’t Appear on the Keyboard

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  • Nancy Tuten

    3 December 2015

    Typing Characters That Don’t Appear on the Keyboard

    One of the many advantages personal computers have over typewriters is that we can type a whole host of useful characters that are not visible on the keyboard itself.

    Need to type the Spanish name José or the French phrase “fin de siècle”? No problem.  Need to put the accent over the a in “vis-à-vis,” the circumflex over the a in “coup de grâce,” or the umlaut over the i in “naïve” and over the e in Brontë? You can!

    Lawyers and legal secretaries often need to type the section symbol in legal citations; banking personnel deal in international currency and often need to type the symbol for the British pound and the Japanese yen.

    Most computer programs have “Insert Symbol” or “Insert Character” features that allow the user to choose and import into a document a symbol or character from a visual display table, but it is easy to misuse a symbol if we are not certain of its exact and specific meaning. And even when we know perfectly well which specific character we want, we still have to go searching for it on the screen and find it for ourselves; we cannot simply call it up.

    There is another way to bring special symbols and characters into our documents, however. It works with standard fonts and an enhanced keyboard in any PC software program that can handle text:

    Using the numerical pad on the right-hand side of an enhanced keyboard, hold down the “Alternate” key while typing a four-digit code. (Be sure that the “Num Lock” in the upper left-hand corner of your numerical keypad is engaged.)

    Here are the typing codes for the legal “section” symbol and some of the most commonly used monetary symbols:

    § = Alt + 0167 = section symbol

    £ = Alt + 0163 = the British pound

    € = Alt + 0128 = the Euro of the European Union

    ¥ = Alt + 0165 = the Japanese yen

    Here are the codes for some of the most-often-used international diacritics:

    à = Alt + 0224 = lowercase a with grave accent

    á = Alt + 0225 = lowercase a with acute accent

    â = Alt + 0226 = lowercase a with circumflex

    ã = Alt + 0227 = lowercase a with tilde

    ä = Alt + 0228 = lowercase a with umlaut

    æ = Alt + 0230 = lowercase ae diphthong (ligature)

    ç = Alt + 0231 = lowercase c with cedilla

    è = Alt + 0232 = lowercase e with grave accent

    é = Alt + 0233 = lowercase e with acute accent

    ê = Alt + 0234 = lowercase e with circumflex

    ë = Alt + 0235 = lowercase e with umlaut

    ì = Alt + 0236 = lowercase i with grave accent

    í = Alt + 0237 = lowercase i with acute accent

    î = Alt + 0238 = lowercase i with circumflex

    ï = Alt + 0239 = ï = lowercase i with umlaut

    ñ = Alt + 0241 = lowercase n with tilde

    ò = Alt + 0242 = lowercase o with grave accent

    ó = Alt + 0243 = lowercase o with acute accent

    ô = Alt + 0244 = lowercase o with circumflex

    õ = Alt + 0245 = lowercase o with tilde

    ö = Alt + 0246 = lowercase o with umlaut

    ù = Alt + 0249 = lowercase u with grave accent

    ú = Alt + 0250 = lowercase u with acute accent

    û = Alt + 0251 = lowercase u with circumflex

    ü = Alt + 0252 = lowercase u with umlaut

    ý = Alt + 0253 = lowercase y with acute accent

    Here are the codes for a few other basic characters and symbols:

    © = Alt + 0169 = copyright symbol

    ® = Alt + 0174 = registered trademark symbol

    ° = Alt + 0176 = degree symbol

    ± = Alt + 0177 = plus-or-minus sign

    ¶ = Alt + 0182 = paragraph mark

    ¼ = Alt + 0188 = fraction, one-fourth

    ½ = Alt + 0189 = fraction, one-half

    ¾ = Alt + 0190 = fraction, three-fourths

    × = Alt + 0215 = multiplication sign

    And here’s a bonus: need to create a bulleted list in an e-mail or a regular document when you’re using a software program that does not have an automatic bulleting feature? Simply type Alt + 0149, and a bullet will appear in your text.

    ©2018 Get It Write. Revised 2018.