Typing International Accent Marks and Diacritics:
Tips, Charts, & Theory
for the QWERTY keyboard
(Windows, Mac, Laptops, smart phones, tablets)
Math and Other Symbols
Writing a letter, article, book, or invitation, or sending an email or a text message?
The Keyboard Help site offers help on typing accented letters and other non-standard characters/symbols,
in a variety of programs and on a variety of devices (phone/tablet, laptop, Windows, Mac, Android).
has an article about Keyboard Help (2/6/20) and much more.
Endangered Language Alliance
Article on Translation of NY Times
into Spanish, a Diverse Language (7/4/19)
NY Times Opinion Article,
Why It’s So Hard to Learn French in Middle Age (4/30/19)
NY Times Obit
, Zhou Youguang,
Who Made Writing Chinese as Simple as ABC, Dies at 111 (1/14/17)
Hats Off to the Circumflex
, a NY Times op-ed article (2/19/16)
Foreign Language Fluency needed
, a CNN Money online article (10/30/13)
Please visit our Friends
(NOTE: only the authors' links will be added here as of Feb 1, 2016)
This page in Portuguese
and Macedonian, except recent additions. Thanks to the translators.
Windows, Using Roman Alphabets
Because individual applications such as word processors or
HTML codes have their own schemes (Word,, HTML)
they are less likely to be 100% transferable to other software applications.
However, most Windows applications,
including word processors, will accept these methods:
(Note that the various versions of Windows (Vista, Windows 7 and 10) vary in the details and vocabulary
but have somewhat similar methods.)
- Change or add Keyboards
Microsoft Windows allows a number of different keyboard languages
and layouts. Installation of the "typical", or "default" options provides
capabilities for French, Spanish, and other Western European languages.
has info for Win 10. The first steps: click the windows icon at bottom left,then Settings, Time and Language,
Preferred languages. After you have multiple keyboards, to switch between them, press the Windows key + Space or click the
Language indicator on the task bar near the time/date on the lower right.
layouts for many languages are available. However, they usually do not
follow the "QWERTY" layout and some characters, especially punctuation,
will not correspond to those printed on your keys. French uses "AZERTY"
with letters a/q and z/w interchanged compared to the US keyboard.
charts for several languages.
Once the language keyboards
are installed, using alt+shift or a designated variation rotates through
them (adjustable by changes after pressing the "Key Settings" button. Click the taskbar language icon to switch
to another language.
- The US-International English keyboard layout
is installed as above and has these features:
- It uses the following intuitive methods which work with most (or
all) Windows applications, while keeping the familiar QWERTY
- Press one of the five modifier keys ` ' " ~
^ , then the letter to be modified.
( ' then a = á, " then u = ü, ' then c = ç,
- Press the right alt key + another key. Examples:
right alt + , = ç (or ' + c)
+ / = ¿
+ 1 = ¡
+ c = ©
+ 5 = Euro currency symbol
for a complete chart and printer-friendly summary.
- Note that this maintains the "qwerty" layout. However, the modifier
keys ` ' " ~ ^ must sometimes be followed by
pressing the space bar when they are actually intended. The system
can accept words requiring an apostrophe, such as it's,
without the space bar.
- If you are having punctuation key troubles
such as your computer's quote and apostrophe key behaving strangely,
the cause may be that your keyboard was accidentally set to the
International English Keyboard. The solution is to reset it to a
standard English or United States keyboard.
- Alt Key Codes (also called Alt number or altnum)
- Those who use only a few characters, but often and in many applications,
may prefer to keep the default United States English keyboard and memorize
a few Alt key codes. This method uses the Alt key plus a four digit
number entered via the numeric keypad, with Num Lock on. The modified
letter appears after the keys are pressed and released. For touch-typers, the
disadvantage is having to move their hands to the number pad on the
right of the keyboard. Examples follow. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this
works in most programs, even in email and filenames.
Note that some laptops have a "hidden" numeric keypad.
MS Word uses an extremely intuitive approach giving it advantages similar to
- ALT + 0224 =
à ALT + 0225 = á
- ALT + 0232 =
è ALT + 0233
= é ALT + 0200 =
- ALT + 0242 =
ò ALT + 0243 =
ó ALT + 0241 =
for complete lists (including Esperanto).
- Character Map
- This is useful for the infrequent accent or symbol.
Use the search box near the lower left to reach it.
choosing a font, double click the desired character(s). After clicking
Copy, return to your document and paste. Some fonts (such as Symbol,
Webding, and Wingding) provide Greek, icons, arrows and symbols. This
system may fail if a combination of keystrokes, as seen in
the lower right of the window, has been reserved for another application.
is an improvement over the Character Map. When you need a special
character, click the "P" box in the taskbar to display a table of
characters. Select the desired character and it instantly appears in
your document. HTML symbols are also available.
(but perhaps less universal than) the International English Keyboard.
Note that sometimes the software adds its own accent marks (as in café), perhaps as part of spell checking.
1. Press CTRL and one of the punctuation keys ` ' , ~ : ^
that most closely resembles the accent needed.
2. Release the two keys pressed in Step 1.
3. Press the letter to be modified and the accented character will appear.
Thus Ctrl+: with u gives ü and Ctrl+, with C gives Ç.
The following chart came from MS Word help/index/characters/inserting/type international. Newer versions have slightly different wording such as help/index/character, then click on Insert an
international character by using a shortcut key. Note that some keys such as & require a shift key also.
|à, è, ì, ò, ù - À,
Ì, Ò, Ù
||CTRL+` (ACCENT GRAVE), the letter
or the LETTER
|á, é, í, ó, ú, ý -
É, Í, Ó, Ú, Ý
||CTRL+' (APOSTROPHE), the letter
|â, ê, î, ô, û Â, Ê,
||CTRL+^ (CARET), the letter
|ã, ñ, õ Ã, Ñ,
||CTRL+~ (TILDE), the letter
|ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ Ä,
Ö, Ü, Ÿ
||CTRL+: (COLON), the letter
||CTRL+@, a or A
||CTRL+&, a or A
||CTRL+&, o or O
||CTRL+, (COMMA), c or C
||CTRL+' (APOSTROPHE), d or D
||CTRL+/, o or O
Math and other Symbols
has excellent features which one can reach by choosing the Insert Tab
and then going to the symbols section of the "ribbon". Clicking on
"Equation" provides about ten built-in equations including the area of
a circle and the quadratic equation. Clicking on the Π
above "Equation" opens a ribbon of math terms similar to those in the
2003/2007 math equation editor. The drop-down arrows lead to many more
terms. Clicking on "Symbol" results in a variety of those, many of
which can be pasted into other software.Click here for a chart of math and music symbols using the alt plus 4 digit codes..
Some Word 2010 features are similar to Word 2003/2007 where many non-English characters, as well as some icons are found in
the Insert menu, then select Symbol and More Symbols. Within this Symbol Window, the font Lucida Sans
provides many accented and other characters for numerous languages.The
Wingding font has many other characters. The Character
Map (see above) also has these fonts.
Word's Equation Editor is available on the Insert menu in the Symbol section.
Purchasing a more convenient math editor such as Math
Type is advised for those who write equations often.
More Math tips for MS Word:
*The Symbol font (in the Home tab) also has many math characters. For example, after changing
to the Symbol font, press the tilde key at upper left, without the
shift key. You should see a bar. Then type another key such as s; the
result for s is a lower case Greek sigma below the bar. If you need an
x or X or other letter under the bar, change the font back to a text
font such as Times Roman, and then type x or X.
*For superscripts, such
as xn: type x, then press and hold Ctrl,
Shift, =. Then type n. To go back to normal letters, press and hold
Ctrl, Shift, =. Subscripts are similar but omit the Shift key.
Word Perfect has spell checking, thesaurus, grammar, and
hyphenation for numerous languages. Another feature is
creating a custom keyboard. However, the remapped keyboard may only work within the WordPerfect application.
The Web and HTML tags: If writing directly in HTML code, the tags for special characters are
relatively intuitive. They start with & and end with
a semi-colon . Examples are € for €, ö for ö, Ö for Ö, ñ for ñ,
è for è, é for é, < for <
(less than), > for > (greater than), & for &,
for non-breaking space, and © for
©.ASCII numerical codes (such as € for the Euro) are also available on the
chart. for complete lists.
In a software application such as Dreamweaver,
one can use the International English keyboard.
Also, Dreamweaver has Insert - special characters in the menu
bar. The shareware application NoteTab provides another method as well as other useful features.
The following have been mentioned on LLTI or other correspondence; I do not have personal experience with them.
- the language dependent, diacritical character key map for Windows by Paul Herber.
Notepad improvement and a handy HTML editor. The clipbook library and the pasteboard are
incredible time savers whether you create web pages, write source code, send
e-mail, take notes, analyze text, read files, or do anything related to text.
Price varies with the version and features.
- displays a table of characters and HTML symbols which are easily
moved into documents.
Language and Other Services
starr.net. Ongoing updates. Last update: January, 2020.
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