In “Shortcuts for entering foreign-language characters ,” I told you how I tackle the problem of entering foreign-language text. I maintain a “cheat sheet,” a Word document that contains the characters I use most often.

Several TechRepublic members wrote to suggest alternative methods of entering those characters. Here are some of the highlights.

Change the keyboard layout
AWright wrote: “I just change the keyboard layout (in the control panel) from US to US-International. This allows me to use the ‘ key to input the characters that I use most often. For instance, by pressing the ‘ key (the apostrophe) before the e gives é. The only drawback with this method is that if you want an apostrophe in your text, you must press the spacebar after the apostrophe.”

Use Windows’ Character Map
David M. wrote: “In all versions of Windows 95/98/NT there is a built-in application Character Map you can launch by clicking Start, choosing Programs, selecting Accessories, and then System Tools.

“This application (shown in Figure A) duplicates Word’s Insert Symbol feature and can be used on a Windows system even if it does not have Word installed. It also can be left on the system tray to be used whenever and wherever you wish to paste special characters into another application.”

Figure A
You can use this built-in Windows tool to enter special characters.

Special tool for Office 2000
Michel T. wrote: “I often have to write e-mails in Swedish, and the best way I have found to enter all these not so common characters is with a little program for Office called ‘Microsoft Visual Keyboard for Office 2000.’ You don’t have to search around anymore. You have a small keyboard on your screen that shows you where all the characters are! It is available to download at this Microsoft Web site.”
To comment on this article or to share your favorite tips, please post a comment below or drop us a note.