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College of Arts and Sciences

Typing Accents, Diacritics and Other Characters

Using Languages on your Laptop

For French, Spanish, Italian and German

In many languages, you may need to type diacritical marks (accents) or special characters to spell a word correctly. Sometimes, a missing accent can completely change the meaning of a word - so it is important to ensure the papers you type in world languages have all the accents and other special characters you need.

Every character has a numeric code assigned to it. You can use these codes to type accented characters. For example to type " à " , hold down the ALT key, and then type the numbers 0224. A list of ASCII codes is found in the GLC, or by visiting this website.

In order to make this work on any keyboard, you'll need to enable the NUM LOCK and use the numeric keypad.

In the GLC, you can also use the International Keyboard. The International Keyboard allows you to type accented characters by using keystrokes in sequence. For example, to type " é ", you press the apostrophe key, followed by the letter e. You may find the International Keyboard easier when you are using your laptop.

Enable the International Keyboard

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, Regions and Language, then click the Keyboards and Languages tab.
  2. Click the Change Keyboards button.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Select English (United States), then select United States-International keyboard.
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box.
  6. In the top of the "Text Services and Input Languages" window, click the drop-down box called Default Input Language and choose English (United States) - United States-International.

Once installed, the international keyboard provides many intuitive shortcuts for common accents, eliminating the need to memorize or look up ASCII codes.

Image of an international keyboard

Arabic, Chinese or Japanese

Install the Arabic, Chinese or Japanese Keyboard

  1. Click Start, Control Panel, Regions and Language.
  2. Then click the Keyboards and Languages tab.
  3. Click the Change Keyboards button.
  4. Click Add. Select your language, then select the keyboard (Microsoft Office 2010 Pinyin IME/Microsoft Office 2010 IME/Arabic (101)).
  5. Click OK to close the dialog box.

Once installed, change your keyboard by clicking the " EN" icon in the lower right side of your computer screen.

Image of an Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese Keyboard


Professor Kuchta recommends you install a homophonic/transliterated keyboard.

  1. Click on this link to download the homophonic Russian keyboard .zip file from the following address:
  2. When prompted, choose to Save the .zip file.  Choose to save in a place you will remember, such as My Documents (Windows XP) or Documents (Windows Vista).
  3. Open folder where you saved the file. Right-click the file, and choose Extract All...
  4. In the Extraction Wizard, click Next. Accept the default location, then click Next, then Finish.  A window will open with the extracted files.
  5. In the extracted folder, double-click Setup.exe.  The setup routine will run. (Note: you may be prompted to allow this setup process to run.)

Your homophonic Russian keyboard is now installed.

To test it out

  1. Open Microsoft Word.
  2. In the Language Bar (which is on your task bar, near your clock at the bottom of your screen) you'll see the letters EN, for English.  Click the EN, and you will see a list of keyboards.  Choose RU to change the keyboard to Russian.
  3. Type a few letters to verify you are typing in Russian.

    This is an image of a homophonic Russian keyboard