In the United States, ownership of copyright exists from the moment a new creative work is generated. Some people believe that the copyright symbol is necessary to bestow protected status, but this is not the case. The symbol does serve as a reminder that there is a copyright in place, and helps people identify locate the holder. You can enter the copyright symbol with extended ASCII codes, keyboard shortcuts and using either Autocorrect or the Ribbon in Word.
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Enter the copyright symbol using extended ASCII character codes. Press and hold the "ALT" key and type "184" on the numeric keypad. When you release the ALT key, the symbol will appear. This technique applies to any program supporting extended ASCII characters, such as Word, Notepad and Wordpad. You can even use this code in instant message components of Skype and Facebook. Some fonts may not include support for extended characters, leaving a blank space instead.
There's an Alternative
A similar method uses a different set of special character codes for Windows. Often called alt-codes, these are accessed in the same way as extended ASCII, but in the case of the copyright symbol, four digits are entered. Press and hold "Alt" and type "0169" on the numeric keypad. Upon releasing the ALT key, the copyright symbol appears. Laptops without separate numeric keypads often have dual-function keys, accessible with keyboard commands. Check your laptop documentation to see if you can use this keypad to enter ALT codes.
Autocorrect and Other Effects
Within Word, you have other ways of calling up the copyright symbol if the ASCII code slips your mind. A few symbols are included in Word's AutoCorrect feature. Typing "(c)" will prompt AutoCorrect to insert the copyright code after you press the space bar following the closing paren. Click "Insert" on Word's ribbon and the "Symbol" to access a grid showing the symbols available in the current font. Select the copyright symbol and click "OK," and the symbol is inserted into your document at the cursor.
Other Copyright Considerations
The symbol is just one of three recommended elements in a copyright notice. As well as the symbol, the first element can include the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation "Copr." The second element is the copyright owner, which is the creator or an assignee. The date of publication is the third element, although you can use the copyright symbol for unpublished works, using date of creation. A full copyright notice then may take several forms. "Copyright © 2104 John Doe," "Copr. © 2014 John Doe," and "© 2014 John Doe" are each valid.