What Are Characters in a Word Document?


In Microsoft Word 2010, as in most word-processing programs, a character is a letter, symbol or space typed in the document. Word allows you to count characters, with or without spaces, by using the "Review" menu's "Word Count" option. This is important when you have to keep your document within a certain character count. Word also offers users the ability to insert special characters in several ways.


  • Word allows you to format your characters using the menu ribbon at the top of the screen. Perform such actions as changing the font and its size, making the characters bold or underlined and highlighting characters. Expand the font ribbon section and choose the "Advanced" tab to alter character spacing or add text effects to the characters.

International Characters

  • Word allows you to add international characters using keyboard shortcuts. Some simple ones include using "CTRL" with the "`" key, called the accent grave key, found in the upper left of most keyboards, followed by a letter, such as "A." The result is an accented letter: "À." Use an apostrophe instead of the accent grave to change the direction of the accent. For some Spanish letters, type "CTRL," "Shift" and the "~," or tilde, character, followed by the letter. It would look like "'."

Special Characters

  • Use simple keyboard shortcuts to insert special characters, such as they symbol for the Euro, a copyright character or an ellipsis. Use "CTRL," "ALT" and the letter "E" for the Euro, "CTRL," "ALT" and the letter "C" for a copyright symbol and "CTRL," "ALT" and period "." for the ellipsis. Alternatively, use the Symbols dialog box to add your Special Characters. On the top menu, choose "Insert," then "Symbols." Click on "Symbol," then choose "More Symbols." Click on "Special Characters." Click on the special character you need, then click "Insert." Click "Cancel" to close.


  • Microsoft word offers many symbols to insert, from Greek letters to phonetic extensions to mathematical signs. On the top menu, choose "Insert," then "Symbols." If you see the symbol you need, click it to insert it. If not, click on "More Symbols." Scroll through the symbols, and change the font at the top right of the dialog box if you know the symbol's font. Click on the symbol you need, then click "Insert." Click "Cancel."

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