#222 Special Characters

Special Characters:

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of very many emails from me, you’ve probably seen one of these at some point:

😎 ;-D 8>( B-p 😯

This is my way of injecting a degree of emotion into email, which is a notorious medium for misinterpreting the tone of a message. Words can sound harsh when delivered without a wink or a smile to let others know that you meant your point was friendly or humorous.
If you’re curious you can read more about How to Know When to Use Emoticons

And if right now you’re wondering what all those “eights” are all about, tilt your head to the left when you read them. 8-D With the increasing prevalence of text messaging via smart phones, Facebook, instant messaging, etc the probability that you’ll ever want to use some sort of ‘special’ character is only going to go up from here. So let’s take a look at several options for how you can use them.

Microsoft Office:

Using special characters or symbols in your Microsoft Office documents is super easy.

1. Go to the Insert menu and select Symbol.

2. From there just pick the ones you want and click the Insert button.

Note: Different fonts will give you different sets of symbols to choose from.

Windows Character Map:

Now what if you’re working in a text editor, e-mail client, Web form, etc. that doesn’t have an option for symbols like Microsoft does? Never fear the Character Map is here. The Character Map is a Windows System Tool that lets you copy and paste the characters you need from it into wherever you need it.

1. From the Start menu, go to All Programs » Accessories » System Tools » Character Map

Now just select the characters you want and use the Copy button to copy them to your clipboard. Then you can paste them virtually anywhere you want.

Keyboard Method: ALT + Codes

Now I realize that’s a rather lengthy path to get to the Character Map. If you think you’ll use it very much you can put a shortcut to it on your desktop. Or, even better, it to learn the keyboard equivalents and skip the Character Map altogether.

1. Make sure Number Lock (Num Lock) on your keyboard is ON.

2. Hold down the ALT key (left alt key) while you type the number appropriate alt code.

For example here are the first 20:

Remember to keep holding the ALT key down until you type all the numbers.

You can find a complete list of these ALT codes here.

This is a great way to get special characters into your Excel worksheets and for anyone who needs to use any foreign language characters.

And finally, if you are one of the few who actually read all the way to the bottom of these emails and are wondering about last week’s closing that said that was going to be my last tip ever, take a look at your calendar and notice the date: April 1st . 8-D

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