Monday, May 2, 2011

Trick of the day: to simplify inserting special characters

When you write or edit, you often need to insert a special character into your text.  How do you do it?  If you're like me, it's probably by dropping into a special insert symbol sub-mode, which is fine, but sometimes laborious.  In MS Word, for example, you can use their Insert>Symbol menu choice, but then you're presented with ALL of characters.  Yet, most often you need to insert just curly-quotes, plus-or-minus, the Yen symbol, or equivalent.  

I found a web site that's marvelous: -- it does just what it says.  When you click on a symbol, it puts it into your keyboard copy-buffer.  That means you can now go back to your editor (say, Gmail message window) and Paste (Control-V) that character.  VERY simple, VERY nice.  

I usually keep it in a tab somewhere handy.  (FWIW, I also shrink it slightly to make sure it completely fits onto my screen... a single Control- shrinks it just a bit.)  

Also note that if you hold down the ALT key, you can click on multiple characters to get a few chars all at once.  (Example:  ≠~÷≈∞ )  Handy when you know you're going to use all those characters in a single message.  

And for people who write HTML, note that you can get the HTML equivalents for any of the characters!  Click on the "As HTML" button at the top of the page, and you can generate things like & iquest; (for the Spanish 'inverted question mark' symbol, ¿).  

You know and I know that search engines don't work so well to find special characters.  Generally, special characters are dropped from the search string.  The exceptions are special characters used as operators (e.g., [ salsa -dancing ] or [ +joiker music ] ), and the characters hash (#), ++ (to handle C++).

Write on! 

1 comment:

  1. Another one to look at is ☛TwitterKeys☜