How to Insert Symbols Above Letters With the Keyboard

Many different symbols are shown above the number keys on the keyboard, but far more are not, requiring users to know where to find them and how to insert them into their documents. Some common symbols include cents, degrees, copyright and trademark. While the most common way to insert these symbols is with a word processing program's Insert option, many other software programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, do not offer this option. You can still use these symbols, though, by using shortcut keys on your keyboard.

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You can insert symbols right from your keyboard

Step

Determine the code set. Two different code sets—American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) and Unicode—contain all symbols. Unicode includes the symbols in ASCII as well as the symbols used in languages other than English. Both code sets assign numbers to each symbol. For example, the ASCII numerical code for a degree symbol is 167, the Unicode number is 0176.

Step

Locate the codes for the symbols you want to use (see Resources). Some symbols can be located in both sets; however, the numbers will not be the same between the code sets. The numbers are the buttons you need to push on your number pad when you want to insert the symbol.

Step

Using a PC, insert the symbols pressing alt, holding it down, and then on the number pad, pressing the numbers that correspond to the symbol you need. The symbol should appear. It is important to use the number pad on your keyboard, as the numbers above the letters will not work this way.