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Depending on your usage, you may want a quick easy way to enter Unicode characters; or you may want to setup/use a different keyboard layout for typing in multiple languages.

Quick and Easy[edit | edit source]

Using Hexadecimal Code Point[edit | edit source]

Key sequence for typing any unicode character using its hexadecimal code point.

E.g. typing the lowercase pi symbol: π

The code point for this character is U+03C0 To enter it, type Ctrl-Shift-u, then the code point digits, then a space. When you type the activation sequence (Ctrl-Shift-u), an underlined u is displayed, then when you type the 03c0, that is also displayed underlined. Then when you type the space, the underlined u03c0 is replaced with the lowercase pi symbol π.

Actually, you don't need to enter the leading zero for code points, so Ctrl-Shft-u 3c0 Space will work as well.

A list of Unicode characters can be found on Wikipedia or the Unicode Consortium

Examples[edit | edit source]

Some examples from the Wikipedia page:

   British pound - U+00a3 - £
   Degree - U+00b0 - °
   Paragraph - U+00b6 - ¶
   eacute - U+00e9 - é
   Omega - U+03a9 - Ω
   Ellipsis - U+2026 - …
   Smile emoji - U+1f642 - 🙂

Frequent Use[edit | edit source]

If you have a frequent need to type letters with accents and umlauts, a better method might be to change to a different keyboard layout that enables dead keys[1]. The easiest one for US users to deal with is the US International layout, which keeps all the letters and punctuation in the usual places but activates special handling of some characters such as:

  • ' (apostrophe / accent acute)
  • ` (accent grave)
  • ~ (circumflex)
  • ^ (tllde)
  • " (double quote)

Keyboard Layout[edit | edit source]

Using that keyboard does take some learning, because if you actually want the character rather than using it to accent the next character you sometimes need to type a space (which will be swallowed) after it. You only need the space if the next character is one that can be affected by the accenting character. So, for example, it's needs nothing special because S doesn't take an accent, but its'a does because ' + a becomes á.

You almost certainly want to switch back to the standard layout when you are typing code. Dead keys just get in the way.

There is another variant called International with AltGr dead keys. That one leaves the behavior of those five characters alone, activating it only if you hold down the right Alt key while you type the dead key. That one requires less relearning of normal typing habits and doesn't get in the way of typing code, but it's less convenient for typing accented characters. It's probably better for casual use but not as good if you're typing a non-English language that uses a lot of accents.

Here are the accented letters you can get. (If you see gibberish, then your web browser could be very old, or more likely there is a configuration problem between the web server and web application.)

  ':  á ç é í ó ú
  `:  à è ì ò ù
  ": ä ë ï ö ü ÿ
  ~: ã ñ õ
  ^: â ê î ô û

There are additional characters that you can get while holding down the right Alt key (or the AltGr key if your keyboard has one of those; none of the common keyboards in the US do) while typing various punctuation characters:

  1 = ¡
  2 = ²
  3 = ³
  4 = ¤
  5 = €
  6 = ¼
  7 = ½
  8 = ¾
  9 = ‘
  0 = ’
  - = ¥
  = = ×
  [ = «
  ] = »
  ; = ¶
  ' = ´
  , = ç
  / = ¿

And a few that also use shift:

   + = ÷
   : = °
   "= ¨
   < = Ç

References[edit | edit source]

  1. A dead key is a special kind of a modifier key on a mechanical typewriter, or computer keyboard, that is typically used to attach a specific diacritic to a base letter. The dead key does not generate a (complete) character by itself, but modifies the character generated by the key struck immediately after.
    Wikipedia contributors. (2018, October 2). Dead key. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:28, October 11, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dead_key&oldid=862207463