How to Use Accent Marks on an American Keyboard

By Shawn McClain

American keyboards are naturally designed for American English, which doesn't include any characters with accent marks. This makes it a little difficult if you need to enter in characters from other languages where the presence of an accent mark can make a difference in how a word is interpreted. Microsoft Windows 7 has two ways to create characters with accent marks using your American keyboard. The first method has you input a code that corresponds to a certain accented character, while the second has you quickly switch your keyboard over to an international layout.


Step 1

Place your cursor in a text field or window.

Step 2

Hold down the "Alt" key.

Step 3

Enter in the three or four digit code that corresponds to the accented character that you want to use. For example, an accented "e" can be number "138," "0232" or "0233." Consult a list of ASCII character codes to find the accented letter you are looking for.

Use International Keyboard

Step 1

Click on the Windows Start button. Place your cursor into the search field and type in "change keyboards." Select "Change keyboard or other input methods" from the list of search results.

Step 2

Select the "Change keyboards" button. The "Text Services and Input Languages" window will open up.

Step 3

Click the "Add" button on the right side of the window. Select the keyboard that you want to use. To just include accented characters, select the "United States-International" keyboard located under the "English (United States)" heading. Click "OK" to close the selection window and then "OK" two more times to go back to your desktop.

Step 4

Click on the small keyboard icon that is now in your system tray at the bottom-right corner of your desktop. Select "United States - International" from the list of options.

Step 5

Place your cursor into a text field. Press your desired accent key, followed by the letter you want to accent. The double quotes key, the single quotes key, the tilde key, the caret key and the grave accent key will all allow you to add an accent mark to a letter.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don't want to use a keyboard, you can also type "Charmap" into the Windows search field to bring up the Windows Character Map. You can then choose whatever character you want from a list of almost all the available characters and copy it to the clipboard.
  • When entering in an ASCII character code, you have to use the keyboard's number pad, and not the numbers above the keyboard. If you are using a truncated laptop keyboard, this means you will have to press "NumLk" to enter the code and use the number pad that doubles as letters on the right half of the keyboard.