Weekly Computer Tip # 345
17 July 2011

Assign keyboard shortcuts to symbols or special characters
(Word 2003-2007)

You can use the Symbol dialog box to insert symbols that are not on your keyboard such as copyright and trademark symbols or special characters, such as an em dash. (A what? ;) But if you use these symbols or characters a lot it can be rather cumbersome to insert them, unless you give them their own keyboard shortcut. You can even choose a shortcut that makes sense to you!

Here's how:

  1. In Word 2003: use the Symbols command from the Insert menu. In Word 2007: On the Insert tab, in the Symbols group, click Symbol, followed by More Symbols.
  2. On the Symbols or Special Characters tab click the symbol or special character that you want to assign a keyboard shortcut.
  3. Click on the Shortcut Key button.
  4. The keyboard shortcut that is currently assigned to that symbol or character appears in the Current keys box. Press the combination of keys that you want to assign. For example, press ALT plus M to assign an intuitive (at least, to me) keyboard shortcut to an em dash.
  5. Press the Assign button.
  6. Press Close twice.

In future, you can press the keyboard shortcut that you assigned rather than having to open the Symbol dialog box.