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2,810 Tutorials

How to type unusual characters on a qwerty keyboard

Where is the | symbol?

If you are trying to inding type such as the | symbol, é, ©, and € using a qwerty keyboard, our Helproom Editor's simple guide should help.

QUESTION I need to use the vertical bar (|) character on my keyboard, but it shares its button with the grave accent (`) and the not sign (¬). Pressing the button on its own produces the grave accent, while simultaneously pressing Shift produces the not sign. How do I use the third character on this key? Bturner

HELPROOM ANSWER This is a job for the little-used Alt Gr key, which is usually found immediately to the right of the Spacebar. You should be able to simply press and hold Alt Gr as you tap the character's button to access the | symbol. However, you may find this produces an underscore (_); many UK keyboards transpose the two characters in Windows.

If this is the case, you'll need to press Shift and the backslash (\) together to get |.

While we're discussing Alt Gr, you may like to know that you can use it to type frequently used characters, such as an acute e (é), by pressing Alt Gr, E, and the copyright symbol (©), with Alt Gr, C. Most modern keyboards place the Euro symbol (€) on the same button as the number 4 – even if it's not labelled as such on your keyboard, you should be able to access € using Alt Gr, 4.

International keyboards will use Alt Gr to access many other special characters. If you don't have an Alt Gr key, you can achieve the same effect by pressing Ctrl, Alt together. One exception is Ctrl, Alt, E, which sometimes produces an € rather than é, depending on the application in use.

If you're using Microsoft Word 2003 or later, there are additional keystrokes you can use to type commonly used characters, thanks to the built-in AutoCorrect feature. For example, if you want to type a degree symbol (º) without having to go via the menu system, you can type Ctrl, @ and then press the Spacebar. AutoCorrect will turn this into a degree symbol. Note that you usually need to press Shift to access the at (@) symbol, which shares its button with the apostrophe (‘); if this is the case, you'll instead need to press Ctrl, Shift, ‘.

If there's another symbol you frequently use, you can create a custom AutoCorrect entry that will replace specified text with that symbol. To configure this, you'll first need to type the required symbol into Word – if you can't find it on your keyboard, try copying and pasting it from the web, using the Symbols menu on the Insert tab, or using the charmap utility. Highlight the symbol and open the AutoCorrect Options menu (click the Office/File button and choose Options, Proofing; in older versions of Word you should look in the Insert menu).

You should now see an empty box labelled ‘Replace', and a box labelled ‘with' that contains the symbol. Enter into the Replace field a word that you're unlikely to use in your documents or even the character's name. Click Add, Ok. When you next type this word into Word, AutoCorrect will replace it with the desired symbol.

See all How to articles. Get free tech support in the Helproom Forum.

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