Use the Character Map application

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

You can use Character Map to view the characters that are available in a selected font. The Character Map applet displays the following character sets: Windows, DOS, and Unicode. You can copy individual characters or a group of characters to the Clipboard and paste them into any program that can display them. Or, depending on the program you are using (such as WordPad), you can even copy characters by dragging them from Character Map directly into an open document.

Using Character Map, you can search for characters by Unicode character name or Unicode subgroup (such as arrows or mathematical operators) or by other special classifications. You can also use Character Map to view and copy private characters that you have created using Private Character Editor.

If you know the Unicode equivalent of the character you want to insert, you can also insert a special character directly into a document without using Character Map. To do so, open the document and position the insertion point where you want the special character to appear. Then, with NUM LOCK on, hold down the ALT key while using the number pad keys to type the Unicode character value. To start the Character Map application:

  • Click Start
  • Click the Run command
  • In the Open text box, type charmap
  • You will see all the characters for the different fonts you have on your system. Scroll through characters and click on one you'd like to put into a document. Suppose you want to insert the "cent" sign into a document. Just click on it and then click the Select button. You will see the "cent" sign in the Characters to copy text box. Click the Copy button. This copies the character to the Windows clipboard. Return to your word processor or email message and click the Paste button in the toolbar. The symbol now appears in your document or message.

    Another trick. If you have the "cent" sign selected, you'll see in the bottom right corner something that says Keystroke: Alt+0162. You can use this information to insert characters without using the Character Map.

    • Turn on the Num Lock.
    • Go to your word processor document or email.
    • Now hold down the Alt key and press the number sequence: 0 - 1 - 6 - 2 on the number pad.

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