MS Word

Insert Symbols and Special Characters

The Problem:

Insert » Symbol, change character set, scroll, scroll,, click. Boring! There's got to be an easier way of inserting special characters than dredging through the Symbol dialog box.

The Solution:

There isthree ways or four, depending on how you count:

  • AutoCorrect includes entries for standalone symbols such as , , ™, and the ellipsis (...). You can add further entries manually if needed. Choose Insert » Symbol, select the symbol, click the AutoCorrect button, type the entry in the Replace box, and then click the OK button.

    For Word to recognize your AutoCorrect entries, each entry must appear in the text with either a space or a punctuation character before and after it. In other words, while you can create an AutoCorrect entry that turns, say, "(y)" into "", you can't create an entry that turns "xxa" into "" in the middle of a word. Instead, create an AutoCorrect entry for the entire word that you want to correct, so that AutoCorrect corrects the word when you type it without its accent. For example, you might create an entry that changed "laerdalsoyri" to "Lrdalsyri."
  • Word's AutoFormat As You Type feature replaces frequently typed symbols, such as em dashes, en dashes, and common fractions. To create an em dash, type two hyphens together without spaces between two words, and press the spacebar after the second word. To create an en dash, type the first word, a space, a hyphen, another space, and the second word, and then press the spacebar. To type a common fraction, type the numerator, a forward slash, and then the denominator, and press the spacebar. For example, 1/2 produces 1/2, and 3/4 produces 3/4.

  • Word includes built-in keyboard shortcuts for the most widely used symbols, which it deems "special characters." To learn these shortcuts, choose Insert » Symbol, click the Special Characters tab, and check the readout for the desired special character. To change a shortcut, or create a new shortcut, click the Shortcut Key button and work in the Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  • The Symbol dialog box in Word 2003 and Word XP keeps a "Recently used symbols" list that enables you to easily insert one of the last 16 symbols you've used.