Alt codes are a powerful means of creating special characters that are built into most keyboards. Once you are accustomed to using alt codes, you will likely find that using them does not slow your typing down at all. Alt codes are required for typing in certain languages when the overall keyboard configuration is set to "English." They are also important when you want to create symbols relating to mathematics and currency.
Currency Alt Codes
You can use alt codes to create the symbols that represent the currencies of various nations. This will help you prevent confusion when your content is read. For example, you can create the "£" sign by pressing "Alt" and then typing "0163" on your computer keyboard's numeric keypad. To create the "¥," the symbol for the Japanese yen, press "Alt" and type "0165." Finally, you can create the cent sign, "¢," by pressing "Alt" and typing "0162."
Accent Alt Codes
Many languages use accent marks over certain letters. When you place an accent into a word, you tell the reader which syllable of that word should be emphasized. To create the grave, "À," you would press "Alt" and use the code "0192" on your numeric keyboard. To create the acute accent, "Á," you would type "Alt-0193." The lower-case codes for each are "Alt-0224" and "Alt-0225" respectively. To create the tilde, "Ã," you would use code "Alt-0195." You can also create the umlaut, "Ä," with "Alt-0196."
Math Alt Codes
You can enter complex mathematical expressions into word processors or other programs by using alt codes. To create the degree symbol, "°," you would use "Alt-0176." You can create the micro symbol, "µ," by typing "Alt-0181." You will likely find that it will usually take less time to use alt codes than it will to use the built-in symbols list in your word processor. You can also create the division symbol by typing "Alt-0247" and the plus/minus symbol with "Alt-0177."
Language-Specific Alt Codes
There are several alt codes you may need to use that relate only to certain languages. For example, the "¡" symbol is used in Spanish along with "!" to denote a sentence that ends in an explanation point. You can create this symbol with code "Alt-0161." The "¿" symbol is used the same way in Spanish with question marks and you can create it with code "Alt-0191." You can create the French cedille, "Ç," by typing "Alt-0199." Make the lower-case form, "ç," with "Alt-0231."