Keyboard shortcuts for entering symbols in Word documents

Two keyboard shortcuts for entering the archaic cents symbol.

Most typewriters had a dedicated key for the cents symbol ( ¢ ). Interestingly, computer keyboards do not. That's because (if I'm to believe Computer Science) the original group who created ASCII didn't think the symbol important enough. After all, doesn't $0.83 mean the same thing as 83¢? That's why you no longer see cents formatted as just cents anymore. Thanks to this decision, the cents symbol has been rendered archaic and unnecessary—and you thought I was going to blame inflation!

The cents symbol didn't make the evolutionary leap from typewriter to computer keyboard, but eventually, the symbol did make its way into our encoding standards. If you need the symbol, you'll be glad to know that you're not stuck with the $0.00 format. There are at least two easy ways to enter this symbol:

  • Hold down the [Alt] key while pressing 0162 on the numeric keypad.
  • Press [Ctrl]+/+c.

It might seem like more work than necessary, but it works.

Another interesting keyboard shortcut that I just recently learned enters an accent mark. For years, I've been using the Insert Symbol method, but you can enter accented characters using just the keyboard! You do so by pressing [Ctrl]+apostrophe+character or [Ctrl]+grave+character. (The apostrophe character is to the right of the semi-colon; the grave accent is to the left of the number one digit.)

To quickly enter é, hold down the [Ctrl] key while pressing ' and then e. To quickly enter è, hold down the [Ctrl] key while pressing ` and then e.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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