Friday, February 29, 2008

Inserting non-standard characters in Word using ALT-number pad

A while back I wrote a couple of articles about inserting non-keyboard symbols in Word using the Insert Symbol function, and also by using some default shortcuts.

Now we get onto the real voodoo - using ALT and the number pad to produce some non-standard characters. You do have a number pad, don't you? That was one of the essential features I insisted on when I got my Toshiba laptop - unless you REALLY need high portability, you ARE going to miss the number pad at times...

How to use ALT and the number pad to produce non-keyboard characters
All the characters you need CAN be inserted into your document using the Insert Symbol function in Word - say the ² (squared) symbol, the µ (Mu or micro) symbol, or the ¼ and other basic fractions. But what if you use them frequently? You don't want to have to go into Insert symbol every time.

Well, this is how you do it: first go into Insert symbol and select one of the above-mentioned symbols (this is by way of example - not all the symbols are inserted this way, so choose one of those for now). Click on the symbol once, say µ . At the bottom it says: Shortcut key: Alt+0181. What's that all about?

It means:

1) Make sure the NUM LOCK light is lit on your keyboard - if not, press it once to activate the number keypad
2) Press the LEFT "ALT" key (it doesn't work with the right!) and hold it down.
3) While still holding the left ALT key, type 0181 in sequence on the number pad (it only works on the keypad too!)
4) Let go of the ALT key and... the µ symbol magically appears!

Other ALT codes
Many other symbols have these codes, and believe it or not, you CAN learn these by heart if you use them fairly regularly - you don't want to have to go back to Insert symbol every time, after all, that would defeat the object somewhat! I have a number of these codes that I use without thinking, such as the „ and ” I need in Serbian - you can't get those via the keyboard.

Here are a few more symbol ALT codes:

½ (half symbol) - ALT+0189
¾ (three-quarters symbol) - ALT+0190
÷ (division sign) - ALT+0247
† (dagger) - ALT+0134
§ (section) - ALT+0167
± (plus-minus) - ALT+0177
¥ (Yen) - ALT+0165

Oh, and I'll let you into a little secret! These shortcuts are not exclusive to Word - in fact they work in all Microsoft and most Windows programs. In fact, I used them to type the symbols here.

Thanks for tuning in to Word Tips World again, and for letting us into your inbox if you are an email subscriber. Stay tuned, for one more bit of symbol-inserting voodoo, coming soon!


Anonymous said...

this is sort of helpful but i got did everyone to 810. it is a lot of symbols!

CBloss said...

I have to thank you! ^^ I knew about this little secret symbols, but there was a particular one that I was looking for and that was of the dagger. Couldn't find the bloody thing! Thanks for providing the code for it!!

Mark said...

Hey, great! There may be a few more of these I've missed. I did have to use the little dagger myself recently though!

Anonymous said...

It's a lot easier to remember three digit numbers. Why are there duplicates? For example, alt171 is ½ and so is alt0189. Why on earth?!

markowe said...

Good question - perhaps for, er, "future expansion"! Or more likely something to do with the UTF-8 "character set" which can also define Chinese, Arabic and all sorts of other characters. Try some random 4-digit codes like ALT-1478 (a Hebrew character). The leading zero is present for the Western characters you and I mostly use, because they map back to the old ASCII set (0-255). Doesn't fully explain the duplicates though... Also, bear in mind I am on VERY shaky ground here, I am not an expert on this.

Anonymous said...

Why on a laptop does it not work on the number keys above the letters?

Anonymous said...

It works on the key "scan code" not the letter that is purported by that key. It can be done on most keyboards by turning on the mode whereby other keys such as U-I-O are 1, 2 and 3 and those below are 3-9. Then this will work. Yes, odd. But look who wrote it and be glad it works at all!


Mike Morrow said...

A few more
0096 `
0145 ‘
0146 ’
0161 ¡
0162 ¢
0163 £
0164 ¤
0165 ¥
0166 ¦
0167 §
0168 ¨
0169 ©
0170 ª
0171 «
0172 ¬
0173 ­
0174 ®
0175 ¯
0176 °
0177 ±
0178 ²
0179 ³
0180 ´
0181 µ
0182 ¶
0183 ·
0184 ¸
0185 ¹
0186 º
0187 »
0188 ¼
0189 ½
0190 ¾
0191 ¿
0216 Ø
0247 ÷
0254 þ

Work in proportional font. Someone with glasses smiling.

Then it goes into dotted, double dotted, cedilla, tilda, unya and special kerned pairs.

markowe said...

Hey, thanks Mike! I never did get round to putting up a complete list. Hope that will help someone, especially the ASCII art :)

Anonymous said...

This is so helpful, but any know know how to write 1/3? if half is alt+171 what is a third????? confused...

rehangillani said...

Hey Nice Post.. I often search the web to get Help and Tips about word processing. Its Almost a whole month now but it seems that there is still a lot to learn. Thanks again! :)


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