Most people see the keyboard and assume that the characters shown are all that are available. Some, more adventurous souls, manage to find the Character Map in Windows and select extra characters from that. Well ok the Character Map can be handy, but were you aware there is a whole range of characters accessible directly from your keyboard without the complications of finding the Map to begin with, and then selecting a character once you have it?
For example… with just a few easy keystrokes I can create the following characters: ☻♥♦♣� •◘○◙♂♀♪♫☼►◄↕‼¶§▬↨↑↓→←∟↔▲▼… ok you may not feel they are particularly useful. Well how about the degree sign (º) for temperatures or school work? Or maybe a real half or quarter (½, ¼). And for those of you who like me use a US keyboard but want to write the sign for other currencies how about a pound sign (£).
All useful on occasions… some more than most. So how to get at them?
Most of them are available on what is known as the Extended ASCII Table. I’m not going into details here about what ASCII stands for, where it originated or the history of its development. All you need to know is that the table of characters exists… and if you are using a computer with a Windows or MS-DOS based operating system they are there for you.
Below you will find the main parts of the table reproduced. To use the characters is pretty simple.
1. choose the character you want
2. select the number to the left
3. hold down the Alt key on the keyboard (usually next to the space bar)
4. while holding down the Alt key… type the number of the character on the numeric keypad (or equivalent).
Note: You *must* use the numeric keypad or this won’t work!!
5. release Alt key… character appears onscreen. How easy was that??
For practice try this. Hold down Alt. Type 171… take finger off Alt… up will pop ½. If it didn’t – you’re not doing it properly… or you’re on a Mac 🙂
This will be a ‘page in development’ for a little while… real life calls 🙂