How to Create Fancy Letters on a Keyboard

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There are many special symbols and other characters that you can insert into your emails, chat messages or documents. You will probably have seen characters such as the copyright (©) sign or the German hard "S" (ß) sign in print or online and wondered how to type these fancy symbols and letters on your keyboard. Whether you want to insert technical or math symbols, type fancy letters for fun or type something in your native language, there are three main ways to do this.

Install a New Keyboard Layout

  • Add a new keyboard layout if you want to regularly use letters from your native language. Log into Windows and open the start menu. Click on "Control Panel" and click "Change keyboards or other input methods" under the "Clock, Language and Region" section.

  • Click the "Change keyboards..." button with the "Keyboards and Languages" tab selected. Click the "Add..." button. Scroll down the list and choose the language that you want to type in. Select the default keyboard layout for that language. Click "OK."

  • Cycle between the available keyboard layouts by pressing ALT+Shift on your keyboard. A two-digit language code (such as "EN" for English or "RU" for Russian) will appear on the bottom-right of the taskbar, showing you which input language is selected. If your keyboard is labelled in the standard US English way, find out which keys correspond to which symbols by referring to the keyboard layout for that language online (see the resources sections).

Using Character Map

  • Open the Start menu and type "charmap" into the search box at the bottom. Press "Enter."

  • Select the font that you want to use from the drop-down box at the top of the page. Scroll down the list of symbols and letters below until you find the one that you want. You can also select "Unicode Subrange" from the "Group by:" section and then choose the range of symbols or letters (foreign alphabets) that you want to search through. Double click on the character you want to use.

  • Click the "Copy" button once you have the characters you want to use entered in the "Characters to copy box." Paste the characters into the program which you want to use them in, such as Microsoft Word or your Internet browser. Paste the characters by right-clicking on the text box and clicking "Paste."

Using ALT codes

  • Find the symbol or letter that you want to type by using an ASCII chart (see resources).

  • Find the corresponding ALT key for the character you want to type.

  • Hold down the "ALT" button on your keyboard followed by the ALT code using the number pad on the right your keyboard. For example, to type the degree sign, press and hold "ALT" and type "167".

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