Under most circumstances, entering characters into any document created with Microsoft Office 365 applications only involves the typing of the correct key on a standard keyboard. But sometimes the character we need for our document is not on the standard keyboard, and we have to resort to other, more exotic, entry methods.
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The conventional ASCII set of characters included in Microsoft Windows 10 contain much more than the common alphabet, numerical digits, and a small sampling of most-used symbols. However, to get access to the complete set of ASCII characters, users have to know and enter either special keyboard shortcut combinations, specific ALT commands, or use the built-in character map.
This article lists some of the more useful non-conventional ASCII characters and explains how to enter them into an Office 365 document.
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Useful ALT commands and keyboard shortcuts for Office 365 apps
To see a complete list of available characters for a particular font in Windows 10 or Office 365, open the Character Map application. To open the app, type “character” in the Desktop search box and then click or tap on the appropriate item in the list of results. Figure A displays the character map for the Arial font.
From the Character Map app, you can click on a character, copy it to the Windows 10 clipboard and then paste that character into a document.
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If you are using Word, you can find the same list of available characters using the Symbol function located on the Insert tab of the Ribbon, as shown in Figure B. Click the Symbol icon and then select the More Symbols item from the dropdown list.
Similar to before, select the character you want and then click the Insert button to add it to your document.
As you move through the list of characters in either character map, you will notice that many of them have associated codes and keyboard shortcuts. Rather than finding your special character by perusing character maps, you could simply enter the code to insert a special character into your document.
Table A lists 20 common special characters and the appropriate code(s) you need to insert them into your documents. Take note, the way you enter the codes varies, and can get a bit confusing.
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Keyboard shortcuts are available for commonly used symbols in Office 365 documents. For example, the legal symbol for “copyright,” ©, can be inserted into a document by using the keyboard shortcut combination CTRL-ALT-C.
However, that symbol can also be inserted into a document by using the keyboard shortcut combination ALT-0169. The number sequence (0169) must be entered from the number keypad with the Num Lock activated.
As you scroll further down the character map, other symbols are inserted into documents using yet another keyboard shortcut technique. For these symbols, you first type the code and then press the keyboard shortcut ALT-X. For example, to insert the infinity sign into your document, type the code 221e and then immediately follow it with the keyboard combination of ALT-X. (∞)
As you look through Table A, you may see two or three separate codes you can use to enter a special character. If you find yourself inserting one particular special character into a document over and over, it may be advantageous to memorize the code and keyboard shortcut combination that inserts it automatically.
|Description||Symbol||Shortcut||ALT code||ALT+X code|
|Superscript 2||²||ALT-0178||00b2 ALT-X|
|Smiley face||☺||263A ALT-X|
|Square root||√||221a ALT-X|
|Greater than||>||003e ALT-X|
|Less than||<||003c ALT-X|