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How to Insert Special Characters and Symbols in Word 2010

Word 2010 lets you sprinkle characters beyond the keyboard's 26 letters of the alphabet, numbers, a smattering of symbols, and punctuation thingies. For example, Word provides foreign language letters and symbols — all sorts of fun stuff. You can insert a special character or symbol in your document in a couple of ways:

  • The Symbol menu: Click the Symbol command button in the Symbol group on the Insert tab. A list of some popular or recently used symbols appears. Selecting a symbol from the menu inserts the special symbol directly into your text (where you currently have the insertion pointer), just like you insert any other character.

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  • The Symbol dialog box: Choosing More Symbols from the Symbol menu displays the Symbol dialog box. Choose a decorative font, such as Wingdings, from the Font menu to see strange and unusual characters. To see the gamut of what's possible with normal text, select (Normal Text) from the Font drop-down list. Use the Subset drop-down list to see even more symbols and such.

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    To stick a character into your document from the Symbol dialog box, select the symbol and click the Insert button. Click the Cancel button when you're done using the Symbol dialog box.

  • The symbol's code: You can insert symbols by typing the symbol’s code and then pressing the Alt+X key combination. For example, the code for the sigma character is 2211: Type 2211 in your document and then press Alt+X. The number 2211 is magically transformed into the sigma character. A quick Web search will produce a resource with a list of symbols and their corresponding codes.

Some symbols have shortcut keys. They appear at the bottom of the Symbol dialog box. For example, the shortcut for the degree symbol is Ctrl+@, spacebar — press Ctrl+@ (actually, Ctrl+Shift+2), and then type a space.

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