How to Use Symbols on a Keyboard

Your computer is capable of using thousands of special symbols. These symbols are accessed using the "Windows Character Map," or through special keyboard commands called "Alt Codes." Once you know how to use the symbols, you can create word processing documents in foreign languages, solve complex equations using symbols and insert emoticon symbols into e-mails. Finding the right symbol takes a few minutes, but once you locate the symbol you can quickly recall it at any point in the future.

Click on the Windows "Start" button.

Type "Character Map" into the blank field at the bottom of the "Start" menu.

Click on "Character Map" to open the program. A window appears, displaying all the special symbols on your computer. (See References 1)

Scroll the list and click on the symbol you want to use. There are literally thousands of symbols, but you can save time searching by looking for common symbol "groups." For example, Greek symbols are all grouped together on the list, as are most other special characters.

Click "Select" and "Copy" to place the symbol onto your clipboard. You can now paste the symbol into any program by pressing "Ctrl" and "V" on your keyboard. (See References 2)

Write down the "Alt Code" located in the lower right-hand corner of the screen for future use. To use this code, you simply hold down the "Alt" key and type in the numeric sequence using your keyboard's 10-key. "Alt Codes" provide quick recall of commonly used symbols, inserting the symbol automatically after the code is entered.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen
  • Paper
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About the Author

Richard Kalinowski began writing professionally in 2006. He also works as a website programmer and graphic designer for several clients. Kalinowski holds a Master of Fine Arts from Goddard College and a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.