Have you ever got stuck typing a letter oradocumentbecause you couldn't figure how to insert that special character or a symbol?

Or you knew how to find the symbol you wanted using the symbol library, but it was a pain when you had to insert that copyright symbol 1000 times in your report.

And you just couldn't figure out a faster way to do it.

A man is sitting at a desk looking at his laptop screen. His palm is on his head and he looks frustrated.

Don't worry! You can use your keyboard to insert thousands of special characters in a word document.

Method 1: Preset Keyboard Shortcuts

Several of the commonly used symbols and characters have preset keyboard shortcuts.

A person is looking at the laptop and is happy to see what is on the screen.

Two examples are:

  • Copyright: Alt+Ctrl+C is "©"

  • EnDash: Ctrl+num- (Control plus the minus sign on the number pad) is "–"

To use this method:

  1. Place the cursor where the special character needs to be inserted.

  2. Select the correct key combination on your keyboard.

For more examples, check out Erin Wright Writing.


Eric wants to add copyright symbol (the "c" inside a circle) to his document. What's his best choice of action?

Method 2: Use the ASCII code

Microsoft Word, like every text-based tool, uses the ASCII code. Each letter, symbol, and character has a unique numerical code. You can type "Alt+ASCII code" for a symbol/character using the numeric keyboard to insert it into your document.

This is useful if you have to insert several characters and symbols when you're writing math equations.

A black board is filled with complicated equations using a lot of special characters.

To use this method:

  1. Learn or look up the ASCII code for the symbols and characters you need.

  2. Turn on "NumLock" on your keyboard to activate numeric keyboard.

  3. Hold down the "Alt" key and type the required code.

A black keyboard is on a desk and the key for

For example:

  • Alt+0163 is "£"

  • Alt+0128 is "€"

What if you don't know the ASCII code for a symbol?

If you don't know the ASCII code for the symbol or character that you want to use, you have a couple of options.

Option 1: Get the ASCII code from the symbols library

  1. In your document, Click on "Insert"

    A word document is open an the

  1. Click on "Symbols" and then on "more symbols" from the drop down menu. A pop-up window of "symbols and special characters" will open.

    A word document is open. The

  1. In the pop-up window, highlight the character you want to insert (in blue in the image on the right). You can read the shortcut key on the bottom middle of the page. You can also see the ASCII code for that symbol displayed on the bottom right (highlighted in the red rectangle)

    In a document, a pop-up window of Symbols is open. A symbol is highlighted in blue. Shortcut key & ASCII code are highlighted

Option 2: Use internet sources

Use sources from the internet that have the ASCII codes for common symbols and characters listed.

Here are two such sources that you can try:


Lucy is writing a Physics paper with a lot of equations. What's the best way for her to insert all the symbols and characters in her equations?

Take Action

A group of people are looking happily at a laptop screen. Some of them have fists in the air like saying

If you expect to use a lot of symbols and special characters in your work, it's good to be prepared!


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