Keyboard Symbols Glossary

Whether you're a student preparing a research paper, a business executive composing a project proposal, or a tourist jotting down memories of your latest vacation, a keyboard symbols glossary can be a helpful reference tool. It'll save you some of the hunting and pecking that comes with inserting symbols through the drop-down menu on your computer.

Keyboard Symbols Using Alt Codes

A standard computer keyboard contains all of the letters, numbers, and punctuation you need for most compositions. However, there are times when you will need a special symbol that isn't readily available on your keyboard.

For example, résumépiñatatête-à-tête, and à la carte are words you may use when writing in English that require special accented characters. If you are writing about a brand or product, you may also need the copyright (©), registered (®), or trademark (™) symbols.

Most people are taught to create these keyboard symbols using alt codes. Remember, when entering the numbers for the codes, you need to use the number keypad to the right on your keyboard. The codes won't work with the numbers along the top of the keyboard.

Alt Codes for PCs

Alt codes only pertain to PCs using the Windows operating system. These do not apply to macOS (e.g., Apple MacBook) or Chrome OS (e.g., Google Chromebooks). We'll cover those in just a moment. But first, find common PC alt codes below.

Symbol

Alt Code for PCs

Cents (¢)

Alt + 0162

Checkmark (✓)

Alt + 251

One-half (½)

Alt + 0189

Copyright (©)

Alt + 0169

Trademark (™)

Alt + 0153

Registered (®)

Alt + 0174

Ellipsis (...)

Alt + 0133

En dash (-)

Alt + 0150

Em dash (-)

Alt + 0151

Beamed note (♫)

Alt + 14

Paragraph (Pilcrow) ( ¶ )

Alt + 0182

British Pound (£)

Alt + 0163

Euro ( € )

Alt + 0128

Lower-case "a" with accent grave (à)

Alt + 0224

Lower-case "c" with accent cédille (ç)

Alt + 0231

Lower-case "e" with accent grave (è)

Alt + 0232

Lower-case "e" with accent circumflex (ê)

Alt + 0234

German umlaut accent on "u" (ü)

Alt + 0252

Spanish tilde accent over "n" (ñ)

Alt + 0241

For more, Ted Montgomery has compiled a fairly extensive list of keyboard symbols, including codes for hearts, stars, and other decorative shapes. Oratory also lists alt codes for keyboard symbols in numerical order for your reference.

The Windows Character Map

If you find the alt codes for creating keyboard symbols inconvenient to use, you may want to use the features of the Windows Character Map. This handy tool lets you view all the special characters available for the font you wish to use. You can then copy and paste the correct symbol into your document.

The Character Map (also called charmap) can be found in your Windows Start menu:

  1. All Programs

  2. Accessories

  3. System Tools

  4. Character Map

Google Chromebook (Chrome OS)

If you have a Chromebook (or other Chrome OS device), you don't have a numerical keypad on the side and Chromebooks don't have Microsoft Word. As you're typing and it's time to insert an en dash, em dash, or any other special character, you can enter Ctrl + Shift + U.

This will populate a field where you can then type in a code to add a special character. Trouble is, these codes are entirely separate from the Alt codes above; it requires Unicode. With a Chromebook, the code you'd enter for an em dash is 2014.

When in doubt, refer to Unicode-Table to figure out which code represents which special character.

Option Codes for MacOS

If you're a Mac user, then the Option key will function similarly to the Alt key on a Windows PC. That's how you can access a variety of keyboard symbols. Here's common Option codes that may come in handy as you write on your MacBook:

Symbol

Option Code for Macs

British Pound (£)

Option + 3

Cents (¢)

Option + 4

Copyright (©)

Option + G

Euro (€)

Shift + Option + 2

En dash (-)

Option + -

Em dash (-)

Shift + Option + -

French cédille accent on "c" (ç)

Shift + Option + C

French circumflex accent (â, ê, î, ô, û)

Option + I + vowel

German umlaut accent on "u" (ü)

Option + U + vowel

Japanese yen symbol (¥)

Option + Y

Nordic O slash (ø)

Shift + Option + vowel

Trademark (™)

Option + 2

Inverted exclamation mark (¡)

Option+1

Inverted question mark (¿)

Shift+Option+?

Penn State has compiled an extensive list with even more Mac accent codes.

Shortcuts and Symbols

When learning a new skill, it takes a little practice before it becomes second nature. Soon, inserting a British pound on your PC will be as easy as Alt + 0163 or Option + 3 on your MacBook. If you're writing in Spanish and need to utilize all the Spanish symbols in a jiffy, check out this Spanish Keyboard and Punctuation guide. It will help you convert your Windows or MacBook keyboard into a Spanish language keyboard.


Keyboard Symbols GlossaryKeyboard Symbols Glossary

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