Languages – Keyboard Helps

The special characters needed in most languages other than English may be created from an English keyboard in several ways. The Insert Symbol method is familiar to many users of MS Word, but this is cumbersome and is not useful for entering information in fields during document submission and for applications other than Word.

One way to enter specific characters (e.g., à, Æ, ç, é, ñ, ß) directly from an English keyboard is to access your computer’s character map through a series of keyboard commands.  Another way is to convert your English keyboard into the keyboard of another language.  The method you choose will depend upon your preference and the frequency with which you use the non-English characters.  

Users who need occasional non-English characters might find it easiest to use the Alt Keycodes method:

  • When using a Windows keyboard with a separate numerical keypad, the method involves locking the keypad (striking “Num Lock”), and then, holding down the Alt key, typing in the appropriate series of numbers. For example, é is created by holding down Alt while typing 0233.  (See Windows Alt Keycodes below for a link to the codes.) 
  • When using a laptop PC, the method is to simultaneously hold the Fn and Alt keys while striking the numerical sequence on the keyboard numbers.
  • Note that this method usually only the keypad, NOT the numbers in the row at the top of the keyboard.
  • A mouse pad with the codes printed on it can be purchased for $11.75 (USD) here.

Additional helps for Windows and Mac users, including instructions for creating alternate keyboards, may be found at the links below.