How to Use Spanish Accents on a Keyboard

By Mare Reyes

When typing in Spanish in a word processing application, the difference between using a letter with its proper accent mark and one without can change the meaning of the word. For example, in Spanish the phrases "I'll walk home" and "She walked home" are distinguished by only one acute ( ´ ) accent. The tilde ( ~ ) is just as important, for example, marking the difference between the words "year" ("anyo") and "anus" ("ano"). There are three easy, different ways of creating these accented letters if you have a PC, a Mac, or if you are specifically using Microsoft Word.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer (PC or Mac)
  • English keyboard
  • Word processing software ( such as Microsoft Word, Open Office Writer)

Accents on a PC

Step 1

Open a new document in your word processing application.

Step 2

Find, in the listing below, the special character you wish to type:á 0225 ¿ 0191 ü 0252é 0233 ¡ 0161í 0237 ª 0170ó 0243 º 0186ú 0250 ' 0209É 0201 ñ 0241

Step 3

Hold down the ALT key while you press sequentially the four number combination on the numeric keypad to create the accented letter. Release the ALT key. Your accented letter will appear. (This function may not work properly if you use the numbers on the main keyboard; instead, use the numeric keypad).

Accents on a Mac

Step 1

Hold the Option key for an acute accent in any program.

Step 2

Press the E key while holding down the Option key.

Step 3

Release both the Option key and the E key and then press the vowel key you wish (a, e, i, o, u).

Step 4

Similarly, use the Option key in combination with another key to create a tilde over an n or an umlaut over the letter u.

Step 5

For a tilde over an n, press the n key while holding the Option key, release both, and press the n key a second time. For an umlaut over the letter u, press the u key while holding the Option key, release both, and press the u key a second time.

Accents on Microsoft Word on a PC

Step 1

Open a new document in Microsoft Word.

Step 2

Hold the CTRL key and press the apostrophe key. Release just the apostrophe key.

Step 3

Press the vowel you wish to add an accent to.

Step 4

Type a question mark or exclamation point after a space and before typing a sentence. Word will create the special character automatically if you are typing in the Spanish language.

Step 5

Use the ALT number combinations for a tilde or umlaut (ALT+ 0252 for ü, ALT + 0209 for ', ALT + 0241 for ñ). Again, use the numeric keypad or this function may not work properly.