Weekly Computer Tip # 299
6 February 2010

Insert international characters using keyboard shortcuts

Do you ever have to type international characters? OK, I might be not a typical example, doing a lot of work for an organisation that employs people from 27 countries of the European Union, where every other surname has ö, Ä, é, ß - or worse - in it. But even if you only occasionally have to type special characters, using the Symbol dialog box can be a bit of a pain.

If I put on my anorak I could obviously recommend Alt+0228, 0233, 0252, 0223 etcetera (which is always better than "googling" for German words so you can copy and paste the required characters - you know who you are ;-) but why not use some more intuitive keyboard shortcuts.

Here's how:

á, é, í,: ó, ú, Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú : CTRL + ' (apostrophe, to the left of your Enter key), the letter
à, è, ù, À, È, Ù : CTRL + ` (accent grave, to the left of number 1), the letter
ä, ö, ü, ë, ï, Ä, Ö, Ü, Ë, Ï : CTRL + Shift + : (colon), the letter
â, ê, î, ô, Â, Ê, Î, Ô : CTRL + Shift + ^ (caret), the letter
ç, Ç : CTRL + , (comma), the letter
ß : CTRL + Shift + & (ampersand), s

For example, CTRL + ', the letter means you hold down the CTRL key, while typing the apostrophe, then you release the CTRL key and type the letter. Or CTRL + Shift + : (colon), the letter means you hold down the Control key as well as the Shift key while you type the colon, then you release the keys and hit the letter.

Give it a go; it's easier done than said!