How to Type Special Characters Using Alt Codes

By Techwalla Contributor

Sometimes you need to incorporate a special symbol into your writing which is not on the keyboard. In a program such a Microsoft Word, this is easily done by way of menus, shortcut keys, and special fonts. However, if you are entering text into a standard text box like we do on eHow or elsewhere, the only way to generate special characters (other than copying and pasting them from elsewhere) is by using what are known as alt codes. This article shows you the steps to do this.

Step 1

First, you will need to refer to a chart of the special symbols that you can create, and the alt codes that are associated with them. There are many websites that provide this, which you can find by Googleing "Alt Codes." One such site is linked below.

Step 2

To generate the symbol that you want, hold down the Alt key on your keyboard. While it is down, enter the code on your number keypad. Make sure your Num Lock is turned on. Do not use the number keys on the top row of your keyboard. Do not omit a leading 0 if the code has one. Your special symbol will appear when you let go of the Alt key.

Step 3

If you are using a laptop that does not have a number keypad, you will need to hold down the Fn key in addition to the Alt key, and use the embedded number keypad that you will probably see in blue lettering in the vicinity of the L key. Again, don't use the row of numbers along the top of the keyboard. If you need to reuse the same symbol in your document, it is often quicker to copy and paste it rather than to reenter the code.

Step 4

Many of the alt codes that you will see in the chart are just simply standard letters and symbols that you don't actually need alt codes for. Make your own chart of the special symbols and alt codes that you think you may use in your writing.

Step 5

You can use alt codes to generate music notes to represent lyrics such as, "♫ But I sent you away, Oh Mandy ♫". You can also generate symbols from other languages as in, "¿Es una piñata?" You can generate currency symbols such as £, €, and ¥, and of course our own beloved ¢. You can generate the symbols of card suits as in, "I guess that on your planet, an opening bid of 2♣ means something different." You can make such conjectures as, "♂ are from Mars, ♀ are from Venus." There are many other symbols to choose from. Best of all, you can end your eHow™ articles with a ☺, with the very easy to remember Alt 1.

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