Office shortcuts for accented characters on Windows

Many years ago I came across, by accident, a way of entering foreign accented characters into Microsoft Office applications by way of a standard non-accented UK/US keyboard.

Whilst this technique is documented in a few places very few people seem to have come across it.

Press Ctrl and a symbol followed by a letter and it will apply this symbol to the letter if it forms a valid accented character. Some symbols require you press Shift at the same time as Ctrl if you normally need to press Shift to get the symbol (e.g. ^ on via Shift6)

Symbol Name Diacritic Examples
: Colon Umlaut äëïöüÿÄËÏÖÜŸ
^ Caret Circumflex âêîôûÂÊÎÔÛ
Single quote Acute áéíóúðýÁÉÍÓÚÝÐ
` Apostrophe Grave àèìòùÀÈÌÒÙ
, Comma Cedilla çÇ
~ Tilde Tilde ã?õ?ñÃ?Õ?Ñ
Double quote Double acute ????
@ At Ring åÅ
/ Forward slash øØ
& Ampersand æœßÆŒ

For example to get  you would type CtrlShift6 (where ^ lives) then let go of the keyboard and press ShiftA (for A). Voilà!

It sure beats trying to remember Alt-01nn numeric keypad codes or delving into the depths of Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map.


One response

  1. Avatar for Steve

    This isn’t limited to Office - if you install the ‘International’ version of your keyboard driver you get the exact same shortcuts in every application. The acute accent versions are available in even the basic keyboard driver like CTRL-ALT-e for example for é.

    Steve October 10th, 2006
  2. Avatar for Damien Guard

    I’ve just tried the Ctrl+modifier with Notepad using Lucida Unicode and the “United States - International” keymap and the “United Kingdom - Extended” one with no joy. I know there are all sorts of codes mapped to Alt-gr (the same as CtrlAlt) however they are a little limited and tricky to remember - e.g. Alt grp for ö and it doesn’t even work in Firefox.

    Damien Guard October 10th, 2006
  3. Avatar for Jocelyne

    Thanks a lot for this tip. I was trying desperately to find how to write accents with US keyboard and Parallels Desktop or Bootcamp. It works perfectly.

    Jocelyne – January 12th, 2009