If you don’t have a specialized keyboard, you’ll have to work a little harder to type accented letters in Microsoft Word. Here are some ways to do it.
If you regularly write in a language other than English, you’ve probably already figured this all out. Perhaps you even use a specialized keyboard that makes it easy to type letters with accents. But if you’re writing primarily in English, there are still times when you may need to write an accented letter. After all, English uses a lot of words borrowed from other languages, like déjà vu, jalapeño, doppelgänger, and résumé, for example. And while we usually write those words without accents in English, sometimes it’s good to take a more formal approach. In cases where you do, Microsoft Word provides some easy ways to make it happen.
Insert accented letters with Word’s Insert feature
If you only need to insert accented characters occasionally, it’s easy enough to open Word’s Symbol window and find the letter you need.
Switch to the “Insert” tab and then click on the “Symbol” button.
The dropdown menu shows the most recently used symbols. If the symbol you are looking for is there, just click on it. If not, click on the “More Symbols” command.
The Symbol window that opens displays a large number of characters to choose from, 3633 to be exact. However, Word helps by letting you filter by font and subset.
Use the “Font” dropdown menu to choose the font you’re using (or you can just select the “Normal Text” entry). The “Subset” dropdown allows you to jump to particular subsets of characters. In fact, if you scroll through the available characters, you can see the value of the subset change. For now though, go ahead and choose “Latin-1 Supplement” from the “Subset” dropdown. That’s where you’ll probably find the accented letter you’re looking for.
Click on the character you are looking for and then click the “Insert” button to insert it into your document. Keep in mind while you’re here that there are all sorts of useful symbols in this window. Only in the image below, you can see the copyright (©) and trademark (®) symbols.
Pretty simple, right? But what if you need to insert some symbols quite frequently and you don’t want to open and search for that symbol window every time? Well, we have a couple of tricks to show you.
Insert accented letters with keyboard shortcuts
Word has a lot of great keyboard shortcuts, and the shortcuts for accented characters are no exception. You may have noticed earlier on the “More Symbols” screen that Word actually tells you what the shortcut key is for that character.
And the best thing is that these shortcuts follow a kind of formula, so you don’t necessarily have to memorize them all. You will use the Ctrl or Shift key together with the accent key on your keyboard, followed by a quick press of the letter.
For example, to get the character á, you would press Ctrl + ‘ (apostrophe), release those keys, and then quickly press the A key. Note that if you want Á instead of á, you’ll need to enable caps lock before using the shortcut key, since using the Shift key would change the shortcut.
There are too many to list in this article, but here are some shortcut keys provided by Office Support to get you started.
|a e i o u||Ctrl + `( grave accent ), the letter|
|A E I O U|
|a e i o u||Ctrl + ‘( apostrophe ), the letter|
|A E I O U|
|a e i o u||Ctrl + Shift + ^ ( Caret ), the letter|
|A E I O U|
|year||Ctrl + Shift + ~ ( Tilde ), the letter|
|a e i o u||Ctrl + Shift +: (colon ), the letter|
|A E I O U|
Insert accented characters with ASCII codes
And what good would we do if we didn’t show you the geekiest way of all? If you are going to be using a lot of accented characters, especially the same characters over and over again, it may be worth spending your time learning some ASCII codes.
The American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), is an encoding system that provides a way to represent certain characters using the respective code. We will not go through the full list of ASCII codes, as there are hundreds of characters and it is impossible to learn them all. Instead, we’ll go over the basics and give you some shortcodes to quickly deal with those foreign words with diacritics.
To use this cheat, you’ll need a numpad (either as part of your main keyboard or as a plugin). You’ll also need to make sure you’ve enabled NumLock by pressing the NumLock key in the top left corner of your number pad. Most keyboards have an indicator light to let you know when NumLock is enabled.
To enter an ASCII code, all you have to do is hold down the Alt key while typing a numeric code on your number pad. For example, the code for a lowercase letter “a” with a grave accent is 133. So you have to hold down the Alt key, type 133, and then release the Alt key. As soon as you do, the character will appear, voilà! !
Obviously, it would be difficult to remember a bunch of ASCII codes for different accented letters, but if you use a few regularly, it really simplifies the whole process. Here are some to get you started:
|129||or||letter u with umlaut|
|130||me||letter e with acute accent|
|131||a||letter a with circumflex accent|
|132||a||letter a with umlaut|
|133||a||letter a with grave accent|
|134||a||letter a with a ring|
|136||me||letter e with circumflex accent|
|137||me||letter e with umlaut|
|138||me||letter e with grave accent|
|139||me||letter i with umlaut|
|140||me||letter i with circumflex accent|
|141||me||letter i with grave accent|
|142||A||letter A with umlaut|
|143||A||letter A with a ring|
|144||ME||letter E with acute accent|
|147||either||letter o with circumflex accent|
|148||either||letter o with umlaut|
|149||either||letter o with grave accent|
|150||or||letter u with circumflex accent|
|151||or||letter u with grave accent|
|152||Y||letter y with umlaut|
|153||EITHER||letter O with umlaut|
|154||OR||letter U with umlaut|
|160||a||letter a with acute accent|
|161||me||letter i with acute accent|
|162||either||letter o with acute accent|
|163||or||letter u with acute accent|
|164||north||letter n with accent|
Autocorrect keyboard characters to special characters
You can also use Word’s autocorrect feature to automatically insert accented characters when you type certain combinations of letters. And, although it seems that it is the easiest method, it is peculiar and, in practice, it is not as useful as it might seem.
Back in the Symbols window, select the character for which you want to set an autocorrect feature. Click on the “AutoCorrect” button at the bottom left.
In the “Replace” box, type the characters you want to trigger autocorrect replacement. When you’re done, click the “Add” button and then the “OK” button.
In this case, we are telling Word that when we type the letter “a” followed by the backtick (`) and then a space, Word should automatically replace it with an “a” that has the backtick on top of it.
And now, for that weirdness we promised you.
When you type a word, you must first type the accented character. In other words, if you want to write “Voilà”, you must first write a + ‘ and then go back and write the “Viol” after it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with Viola’, because Word won’t trigger autocorrect when the trigger letters are part of a larger word. And, as you can imagine, this makes it really annoying to have multiple accented characters in a single word.
And really, you’re still typing almost as much as you would with the built-in keyboard shortcuts Word provides.