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Special Characters

letters and accents in languages other than English

Microsoft Word

Windows:

Mac

Google Docs

Unicode and ASCII Characters

You may use a set of characters not printed on your keyboard on a regular basis. If you are writing in French, for example, you need a regular set of accented letters not generally used in English. In this case it may pay you to learn Unicode or ASCII codes that allow you to rapidly enter these letters without clicking through menus and character maps. These codes are available in several places, including web searches and the character map in MS Word.

ASCII Codes are probably best if you have an extended keyboard with a righthand number keypad. If you are using a laptop keyboard, you must engage the number (NUM) lock, and then may need to use letter keys' secondary numbers, which is complicated and my may mean Unicode is more worthwhile. On the other hand, ASCII codes are usable in web browsers and Google Docs, which may not recognize unicode. To add a special character via ASCII code to your document, hold down the ALT key, while typing the four-digit code. For example, ALT+0233 prints é.

Unicodes are different; é is unicode00E9. You enter these by typing in the code, and then pressing ALT-X. These are friendlier to laptop keyboards since you needn't engage NUM lock. Word Processors like MS Word will recognize them, but web browsers, and Google Docs running in a web browser, will not.

Character Map

In most Word Processors you can access a character map, or menu that allows you to click the character you want and install it.

In MS Word, the character map is also a handy reference for discovering ASCII or unicodes. to access the Character Map in MS Word, click Insert in the top menu bar, and from the ribbon, choose Symbols to open a menu. There, choose More Symbols...

Google Docs also has a character map, accessed via the Insert Menu: Special Characters.

You can find more information on ASCII, Unicodes, and the Character Map in Microsoft Word here.

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