Fonts and Typing Special Characters

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What are Special Characters? A character that is not an alphabetic or numeric character. Punctuation marks and other symbols are examples of special characters. Those that do not appear on your Keyboard.


Before we start inserting Special Characters, you have to consider the FONT you are using. Some Special Characters will also require the installation of a special FONT or the Character will not be displayed. Windows already comes with over 100 fonts. To see these fonts in Windows 10, Click on START - SETTINGS - PERSONALISATION - FONTS.

What is a FONT? A font is the design of letters and contains their style details.

Fonts have Names. Example:


The Default Font for Microsoft Word is Calibri and for Open Office it is Times New Roman


Not much difference.

There are many web sites that will provide you with a list of Fonts. Some of those sites are listed below.

Example: If you want to print Egyptian Hieroglyphs you will have to download and install a special font called "Aegyptus". Then you open Word and select that font and you will be able to display all the Hieroglyphs in your Word Document.

The Egyptian Hieroglyph font, "Aegyptus", can be found by visiting this web page and clicking on Fonts > African Fonts.

A PDF file listing all the Egyptian Hieroglyphs and their Unicode can be found at Hieroglyphs

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Inserting Special Characters

There are several different ways to insert special Characters into your documents. But the Easy Way is to make up your own list and then just Copy and Paste. Sticky Notes is a good place for your list.

Microsoft Word: From the Ribbon Tool Bar > select the INSERT Tab then the Symbol tool as shown below. Just select the special character you want and click insert. Newer versions of Word has a tool for inserting Equations.



Open Office: On the Menu Tool Bar, click on Insert > Special Characters and the Special Characters Windows will open which almost exactly the same as the one in Microsoft Word. Just select your character and click OK. 

Word Pad, Notepad and Email:

For a more comprehensive listing of Special Characters and Symbols, open the Character Map. Just click on Search and type Character Map, then click on it when it appears at the top of the search results. (pin it to your Task Bar). This will open Windows Character Map where you can Select the Character or Characters and click on Select. When you are finished click on COPY, then go to your document and Paste.


ALT KEY plus Keypad

A third way is to use the Keystroke numbers (bottom right) of the Character Map and enter that code from the keyboard number pad. This Method works on Word, WordPad, Open Officer, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail and GMAIL

Type the Pound Sign by holding down the Alt Key and typing 0163 on the Number Pad. You have to use the Number Pad, the numbers at the top of the key board do not work.

Not all the Symbols in the Character Map have a Keystroke Value, but they all have a Unicode Number. This Number is located at the bottom left of the Character Map. The Unicode for the Pound Sign is 00A3. The Unicode number is a HEX (base 16) number with the letters A -F being used. Computers can only understand numbers, so a coding system was developed so that each character is represented by a number. The first coding system was called ASCII, but it has been replaced by Unicode. The latest version of Unicode consists of a repertoire of more than 109,000 characters covering 93 scripts. The Keystroke value is the equivalent number in Decimal, with a 0 added. 00A3 Hex converted to Decimal is 163. So if you find a Symbol that does not have a Keystroke value you can make your own. Just Convert the Unicode HEX Value to Decimal.

ALT X Method

A 4th way, and this only works in MS Word and WordPad, is to use the UNICODE number for that character. Unicode provides a unique number for every character.

If the Keystroke value is not shown in the bottom right you can use the Hex number in the bottom left corner. Hex is a base 16 number system that has 16 digits, 0 to 9 and A - F.   A is 10, B-11, C-12, D-13, E-14, F-15

To Insert a Unicode character into Microsoft Word, first type the character code. In this case it is 00BC, then press ALT X.

This only works in Microsoft Word and WordPad. It does not work in Open Office or Notepad. A special program is required.

00BC ALT X will give you  1/4

UNICODE Input Tool

If you want to input Unicode characters on any program, read this web page: Unicode Tool. This tool works on all versions of Windows

Web pages that contain lists of Fonts

Free Unicode Fonts
Unicode Fonts for Ancient Scripts
Unicode Fonts from WAZU
Unicode Fonts
The Microsoft Store. But be alert, not all fonts are free. Some web sites, including the Microsoft Store, will charge you for Fonts.

Web pages that contain lists of Special Characters:

Unicode Table
Unicode 11.0 Character Code Charts
Special Characters — Alt Keyboard Sequences
Unicode Character Categories
Unicode characters table
Online Character Map
Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs
HTML Code Table
KANJI Code Table


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