How to Do Funny Keyboard Symbols

By Gareth Downes-Powell

Special computer characters--which can look like unusual or funny characters--are characters that are not shown on the computer keyboard. Letters from other languages--such as words with accents--and uncommon mathematical symbols are some examples. Some software packages have a dedicated menu option to insert special characters. In many cases, you will need to insert the character yourself by holding the "Alt" key and typing the numerical code that corresponds to the character being inserted.

Step 1

Click the Windows "Start" button and then select the "Accessories" group. Click on "System Tools" and then click "Character Map" to start the Windows "Character Map" tool. This is a system utility that shows all the available characters for a selected font along with their corresponding codes.

Step 2

Select the font you are using from the drop down menu that displays a list of all the fonts currently installed on your system. Although most fonts contain a standard set of characters, there are exceptions, and some special characters may be unique to a particular font. As an example, the Windows "Wingdings" font that is installed as part of the operating system contains many special symbols that cannot be found in other fonts.

Step 3

Double-click on the special character that you want to use. Once a character has been selected, a larger view of the character is shown. Click the "Copy" button to copy the character to the Windows clipboard. The character can then be pasted into the software you are using with by pressing the "Ctrl" and "v" keys together.

Step 4

Insert the character directly in to the software you are using by pressing the "Alt" key and typing in the code for the character. This is shown at bottom of the "Character Map" utility as "U+" with the characters numeric code. The code is shown in hexadecimal, so it must be converted to decimal before it is typed using a hex to decimal convertor. For example, for the code "U+444" you would convert 444 from hex to decimal giving 1092. To insert the character you would press the "Alt" key whilst typing 1092.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Windows "Calculator" program has a hex to decimal conversion facility, or you can use an online conversion tool.
  • Simple text editors such as the Windows "Notepad" program do not have the facility to show special characters, meaning they can only be used in more comprehensive software such as word processors or desktop publishing applications.