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Here’s the situation: you write a job report and suddenly you have to type the phrase “Jones née Berkowitz.” Or add a sentence in Spanish and have to use the word “años”. How do you add the special characters to the letters?
Special characters (also known as diacritics) may be more common in certain languages, but there are many circumstances in which English speakers may need to use them. But because they are so rare in English, native English speakers may not have learned how to add these marks to documents, emails, or other scripts. It’s not difficult to add it to your Windows document, although it doesn’t work as well as it does on a Mac, where all you have to do is hold down the corresponding key.
How to type special characters using the touch keyboard
The first method, and possibly the simplest, is to use the Windows 10 on-screen keyboard. It appears by default when using tablet mode, but can be easily accessed manually:
- From the Windows 10 desktop, right click on any free space on the taskbar and select ‘Show Touch Keyboard Button’.]
- The touch keyboard icon should now have appeared next to the time and date on the taskbar.
- Click on it and you should see a screen like this.
- From here, press and hold (or press and hold on touchscreen devices) the corresponding letter to see a variety of special characters. There are many more options through the ‘& 123’ button.
How to type special characters using the emoji keyboard
Emojis are often difficult to find and use on desktop computers, but Windows 10’s emoji keyboard makes it that much easier. However, there is also a section here with a variety of common symbols. Here’s how to get started:
- Hold down the Windows key and press the period / full period key (.)
- The emoji keyboard will now appear in all applications where typing is supported. In the window that appears, select the third tab at the top, indicated with a Greek letter Omega
- You will now see a variety of popular special characters. The bottom row also acts as a menu, so there are many more options than you can see in the screenshot below.
How to write special characters using the character map
If you want something a little more traditional, there is always the old character map. Many people will be familiar with it from earlier versions of Microsoft Office applications, but it still works just as well today. Here’s how to use it with any application:
- In the search bar next to the Start menu, type ‘character map’ and select the appropriate application
- The window that appears is like the emoji keyboard, so it can be used in a similar way. The key difference here is a long scrolling list instead of tabs to separate categories.
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