|Learning About Computers and the Internet|
The numeric keypad section that is present on many PC keyboards can be used to add special characters to documents such as letters and email.
The Numeric Keypad
The Numeric Keypad is commonly in the right-hand section of desktop keyboards. An example is shown on the right. It was originally a convenience for those who were used to the old-fashioned adding machines but it has some specialized functions as well. One of these is to insert special characters in documents by entering special code numbers. To use the Numeric Keyboard for this purpose, " Num Lock" should be on. The status of Num Lock is indicated by a light (not shown) above the keypad . "Num Lock" can be toggled on and off by using the key labeled "Num Lock". This key is shown in the upper left corner of the figure.
To insert a special character in a document, place the insertion point at the appropriate spot in the document. Next, hold down the Alt key and enter the appropriate code numbers for the desired character using the Numeric Keypad. Then release the Alt key and the character will appear in your document. As an example, to enter the cent sign (¢) hold down the Alt key and enter "0162" (without quotes). Then release the Alt key.
The codes for special characters can be obtained from the Windows Character Map as discussed on another page. Also, the codes are tabulated in various places such as this reference. (The tabulated codes are part of a group called iso8859-1. The three-digit numbers must have a leading zero to work in our context. The general topic of encodinfg characters is dicussed on another page.) If you use a particular character very frequently, you will probably remember the code. While you may not want to remember dozens of codes for various special characters, a table of some of the more common ones might be kept at hand for reference.
Table of Some of the More Common Codes
The codes that are given in most tabulations on the Internet are in a format appropriate to HTML code or other media presentations. The codes that should be used in the Numeric Keypad are slightly different. They are generally in the form 0xyz where x, y, and z are integers. Some of the more common examples are given below.
The examples given in the table above should work for default settings in common Windows applications like Notepad, Wordpad, and Outlook Express. However, different fonts or language settings can affect what you get. Also, Notepad can display fewer characters because of its more limited support. Generally, numbers through 0256 work but after 256, things get more complicated. See this reference for more detail. More discussion of the various encodings is on another page.
A More General Hexadecimal Way to Enter Unicode Characters
The method described above only works for a certain limited set of decimal-denoted characters. A much larger universe is accessible if hexadecimal input is used. The Alt key, the numeric keypad, and the regular keyboard are all involved. The procedure is:
There are numerous lists of Unicode character codes on the Web. The official site for Unicode is http://www.unicode.org/ and extensive tables for the many characters can be found there. Note that only if you have a font that contains a character can it be displayed. I have found that Lucinda Sans Unicode has some of the more off-beat characters.
Registry edit to allow hexadecimal input
One problem with this method is that it is likely that it won't work until you do a Registry edit to allow hexadecimal input. Those who are experienced at editing the Registry can open Regedit and go to the key
File to carry out Registry edit to enable hexadecimal input
If on one hand you want to be able to enter hexadecimal codes for characters, but on the other hand you are not keen on Registry editing, here's help. I have written a little INF file that will add the necessary entry to the Registry for you. Download the zipped file here. Just unzip to anywhere convenient and right-click it. In the context menu that opens, choose "install". That's it. It will edit the Registry silently. You will have to log off and back on for it to come into effect. You can delete the INF file after you use it. The usual disclaimers apply. The file is furnished as is with no guarantees. The user is responsible for any use of the file.
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