Word Processing Shortcuts, Tips and Tricks

This blog from the Education Techie covers how to quickly insert foreign accent symbols into your word processing document. Learn what commands to type on your keyword by viewing the list of shortcut codes for both Windows and Mac computer systems. Schools offering Microsoft Office degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Mac and Windows Shortcuts for Foreign Accents and Symbols

Get the break down of common keyboard shortcuts for inserting foreign accents and symbols on both Mac- and Windows-based computers from the Education Techie. If you need to insert accents like the grave (è) and acute (é), or symbols like the 'c' cedilla (ç), into your word processing doc, you don't need to search out text to cut and paste or go through long menus. On both Mac and Windows computers, you can use simple keyboard shortcuts to get the characters you need. Though the exact key combinations are different for the two operating systems, the commands are typically simple, intuitive and easy to remember.

Mac Shortcuts

For Macs, accents and symbols are inserted using the option key that is standard on Apple keyboards. You can also choose a foreign keyboard layout under the 'International' menu in system preferences. If you'd rather just keep your keyboard on English layout, you can use key combinations to get the characters you need.

There are two types of character commands on Macs, and they work across different word processing, web browsing, note taking and email composition applications. Hitting the option key and a specific letter key at the same time produces one of the two types of character commands. This is used for characters like the cedilla and differs from the process used to insert diacritical marks or accents. To make these marks, you must hit a combination of keys to select the specific accent and then type the letter you'd like accented.

For example, to insert an 'á' into your text, you would first hit Option (Opt) and 'e' at the same time, then release those keys and type the letter 'a.' To make accented capitals, you would follow the same process, but hold down shift while typing in the letter.

One-Step Commands

This is the first type of command discussed above. These simply require that you hit Option and a specific key to make the character.

Character Command Capital
å Opt-a Å Opt-Shift-a
æ Opt-' Æ Opt-Shift-'
ç Opt-c Ç Opt-Shift-c
ø Opt-o Ø Opt-Shift-o
œ Opt-q Œ Opt-Shift-q
ß Opt-s None
¡ (Upside-down exclamation) Opt-1 None

Two-Step Commands

This is the second type of command discussed above. These require that you use option and a specific key to create the accent, release those keys and then select which letter you would like to accent. To capitalize accented letters, hold down shift while typing in the letter in the second step.

Diacritical Mark NameFirst StepSecond Step
Acute (áéíóú) Opt-e Type vowel
Grave (àèìòù) Opt-` Type vowel
Tilde (ñãõ) Opt-n Type letter
Circumflex (âêîôû) Opt-i Type vowel
Umlaut (äëïöü) Opt-u Type vowel

Windows Shortcuts

The method you use to insert accents and characters in Windows will depend on whether you have a numeric keypad on your keyboard. If you do, you can set the number lock on and use the alt key in combination with a numerical code to get the results you want. If you do not, you may need to adjust your control panel settings to use an international keyboard.

Alt Key Commands

These are the numerical codes to be used in combination with the alt key in Windows. Hold down the alt key while using the numbers in the keypad to the right of the keyboard. If you have trouble remembering numbers, you might want to write these codes down.

Character/ Symbol Numeric Code Character/Symbol Numeric Code
Á0193 À0192
á0225 à0224
É0201È0200
é0233è0232
Í0205Ì0204
í0237ì0236
Ó0211Ò0210
ó0243ò0242
Ú0218Ù0217
ú0250ù0249
Ä0196Â0194
ä0228â0226
Ë0203Ê0202
ë0235ê0234
Ï0207Î0206
ï0239î0238
Ö0214Ô0212
ö0246ô0244
Ü0220Û0219
ü0252û0251
Ÿ0159ÿ0255
Ã0195Å0197
ã0227å0229
Ñ0209Ç0199
ñ0241ç0231
Õ0213Ø0216
õ0245ø0248
Æ0198Œ0140
æ0230œ0156

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