Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Inserting Special Characters

Today’s quick and easy computing tip works no matter what program I am in.

Occasionally I have to insert a special character into my documents – such as the Copyright symbol in my articles, or and upside down question mark when representing Spanish, or an umlaut or tilde in an ancestor’s name.
And I think we can all agree that ¼ certainly looks better than 1/4, and is easier to read.

When I am working in Word (which is never, anymore) or working in an HTML editor (for the Internet), there are shortcuts I can use to quickly insert those unique (aka “oddball”) symbols. But in other situations and applications – such as webmail – it is a little trickier.
[note: a nice listing of those ASCII/HTML codes can be found here.]char_map

For those occasions when I need a symbol for which there is no key on my keyboard, I have created a shortcut in my Quick Launch area to the Windows Character Map tool.

Character Map is a font ‘data base’ which can display all the characters in the fonts on your PC. (shown left)

In each font there are multiple dozens ‘special characters’ and symbols, and weird letters from foreign languages like Latin. I simply select my font, and scroll through the assortment until I find what I need; then Copy > Paste it into my document.

In demo screenshot, I have selected Times as the font, and I found my symbol without any scrolling. I clicked on the “©” to “select” it (as you can see, it enlarged when selected), and then clicked the “Copy” button.
The copyright symbol is now on my “clipboard”, so I move to document and press Ctrl+V (or, “Edit” menu > “Paste”) to Paste it in. Simple!

The Character Map tool is located in the Programs >Accessories >System Tools folder.. which is kind of a pain to navigate to, so I right-clicked on the icon, and dragged it down to the QuickLaunch area and hovered my cursor between two existing shortcuts until I saw a black vertical bar appear, and let go. Then I choose “Create shortcut here”.. as shown above, there’s now handy launcher always ready for me.

Today’s free download: The Chrome web browser from Google is now out of Beta, which generally means that it is “ready for Prime Time”. You can read one of my reader’s RL reviews of Chrome here, and you can download this speed demon here.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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December 15, 2008 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, how to, keyboards and mice, MS Word, PC, software, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , | 5 Comments