NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, June 2012
Inserting International Letters into Word Documents
By Nancy DeMarte, Columnist,
Office Talk, Sarasota PCUG, Inc., Florida September 2011 issue,
Sarasota PC Monitor
ndemarte (at) Verizon.net (click to email author)

In our global society, languages have become more blended. English, for example, has adopted many words of different origins, some of which include special diacritical marks over the letters, as in the French word pass. Occasionally words can actually be misunderstood without a special mark over a letter, such as the difference between the "rsum" we provide when looking for a job, and "resume", meaning to begin again. It helps to know how to insert these diacritical marks when using Microsoft Office. Word provides two fairly easy methods to add these marks: the Symbol dialog box and keystroke combinations.

The Symbol dialog box (formerly called the Character Map) is easy to find in Word. It can be useful but also a bit tedious when you're in the middle of composing a document. It provides both international characters and other symbols, such as the Euro symbol () or Pi (?). To use this dialog box in Word 2007, click the Insert tab, then Symbol to view a few common symbols. Click the one you want to make it appear where your cursor was flashing. Click Symbol, then More Symbols, to open the full dialog box. Click a letter or symbol, then Insert, and it's done. This dialog box contains every symbol and international letter that Office has to offer, but inserting one may involve moving between different tables of fonts and symbol types before you locate the one you need. It is worth spending a few minutes exploring this box, though, if only to see what's available. Once you insert a symbol using the dialog box, it will appear with recently used characters and symbols in a row near the bottom of the box for easy access in the future.

Although the Symbol dialog box method is the best way to insert a symbol, there's an easier method of inserting international letters using a combination of keyboard strokes. This method involves pressing the Control key (Ctrl) on the keyboard at the same time as a punctuation or symbol key, then releasing these keys and pressing the key of the letter that needs the diacritical mark. Let's use the example of the acute . First be sure your cursor is flashing in the spot where you want the character to appear. Press the Ctrl key and the apostrophe key at the same time. Release them and type the letter "e", which will appear with its acute mark in place, .

When learning this method, it helps to have a chart of the appropriate keys and corresponding diacritical marks nearby. The system is so logical that before long you won't need to refer to the chart except for unusual marks. The chart below gives you many of the ones you might need:

International--Press these keys,
Character--then release and press the letter.
, , , , Ctrl + ` (grave accent key)
, , , , , Ctrl + ' (apostrophe key)
, , , , Ctrl + Shift + ^ (caret key)
, , Ctrl + Shift + ~ (tilde key)
, , , , , Ctrl + Shift + : (colon key)
Crtl + Shift + @
or Crtl + Shift + &
Crtl + , (comma key)
Crtl + ' (apostrophe key)
Ctrl + / (forward slash key)
Alt + Ctrl + Shift +?
Alt + Ctrl + Shift +!
Ctrl + Shift + &

A few tips about this chart: 1. Many of the diacritical marks resemble the keyboard symbols that are used to create them, which makes them easier to remember. 2. Occasionally the Shift key is included in the procedure. This is because the keyboard symbol is the top one on the key and needs the Shift key to select it, as it would if it were a capital letter. 3. To get the upper case version of these letters with their marks, such as , merely press the Shift key while pressing the letter.

If you find that you type in languages other than English on a regular basis, Word 2007 and 2010 offer quite a bit of help. You can see the list of the languages which have editing tools installed in Word by clicking the Office button (File in 2010) and selecting Word Options. Click Popular in the left pane and select the Language Settings button. I found, for example, that limited editing support is provided for more than 200 languages on my computer, including six dialects of French, five of Chinese, and twenty-one of Spanish.

If you need more tools in another language, you can download free Language Interface Packs or purchase Language Packs for about $25, both of which provide extra editing tools for the language of your choice. Other options allow you to change the keyboard to a different language layout. To do this, open the Control Panel and put it in Classic view so all the icons are visible. Click the Region and Language icon, and then the Keyboards and Languages tab. English is the default, but you can add other languages from this dialog box. You can also customize formats for specific systems which differ among countries, such as currency and measurement, using the Format tab in that same dialog box.

If you are interested in exploring more about using Word in a language other than English, here is a link to get you started: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/support/change-the-default-language-for-office-programs-HA010356057.aspx. Meantime, clip the chart included in this article to use the next time you need to type an "international" word. :

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