How to Type German Words on an English Keyboard

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Typing in the German language requires use of seven special characters: the uppercase and lowercase forms of the three umlaut vowels, "ä," "ö," and "ü," and the eszett, "ß," which only has a lowercase form. Although there are ways to transcribe these letters into English without the use of special characters, there are also keyboard commands that both PC and Mac users can use to type them.

PC Instructions

  • Check that your computer's "Num Lock" light is illuminated. If not, press the "Num Lock" key. Locate the number pad, which should be a rectangular group of number keys on the right-hand side of the keyboard. The numbers along the top of your keyboard will not make special characters.

  • Press and hold "Alt." Enter the code for the letter you wish to type using your number pad. The letters have the following codes:

    Ä: Alt + 142

    ä: Alt + 132

    --: Alt + 153

    ö: Alt + 148

    Ü: Alt + 154

    ü: Alt + 129

    ß: Alt + 225

  • Release the "Alt" key. The letter will appear in your document.

  • Open the Character Map program if you are having trouble using the keystrokes. The Character Map program should be located under "System Tools" on your computer's Start menu. When you open the program, you will see a grid with a sequence of characters.

  • Select the font you are using, then click on the character you wish to use. Hit "Ctrl + C" to copy the character. Click on the place in your document where you wish to use the character, then hit "Ctrl + V" to paste the character.

  • Transcribe the letters in English if you cannot use the keystroke codes or Character Map to enter them. To represent a vowel with an umlaut, simply type the vowel followed by "e"; for instance, you would type "Ü" as "Ue". To represent an eszett, type "ss."

Mac Instructions

  • Hold down the "Option" key. If you wish to type a vowel with an umlaut, press "u," then release both keys and type the vowel you wish to use.

  • Press "s" instead of "u" if you wish to type an eszett. You do not need to press another key for the eszett to appear.

  • Transcribe the letters in English if you cannot use the keystroke codes. To represent a vowel with an umlaut, simply type the vowel followed by "e"; for instance, you would type "Ü" as "Ue". To represent an eszett, type "ss."

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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