How to Type Special Characters and Emoticons on Your Surface’s Onscreen Keyboard

By Andy Rathbone

The onscreen keyboard on your Surface gives you lots of versatility to communicate your message. You can use it to type special characters and even emoticons to add a unique quality to your message or document.

Typing special characters

Your Surface’s onscreen keyboard simplifies typing symbols and foreign characters, something quite difficult on other keyboards, including the Surface’s Type and Touch Cover keyboards.

To add the little accent mark on the letter é, for example, press and hold the onscreen keyboard’s e key. A little pop-up appears around the letter, showing possible foreign characters based on the e key. Slide your finger in the direction of the key you want and let go. The desired character appears.

Holding down the question mark key lets you choose among eight other common symbols missing from the keyboard, including brackets, hyphens, slashes, ampersand, and the exclamation point.

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Press the &123 key to bring up a Numeric keypad and mathematical symbols. When the Numeric keypad appears, press the arrow keys directly above the &123 key to toggle between even more characters, including symbols for copyright, advanced mathematics, and popular currencies.

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Typing smileys (emoticons)

Whether they’re called smileys, emoticons, or emoji, these little characters grew from the simple smiley face created from a colon, a dash, and a right parenthesis — :-).

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Your Surface embraces the smiley tradition by supporting dozens of emoticons. To insert an emoticon, press the smiley key shown in the margin. The Emoticon keyboard appears.

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The Emoticon keyboard begins by showing the smiley faces. To see more, press any of the keys along the bottom. There, you can choose among other symbol categories: Holiday, Food, Travel, Weather, Miscellaneous, and Text. (The Text category is a quick way to add text-based smiley faces when sending text-based e-mail.)

Unfortunately, emoticons don’t translate well between different programs, computers, and e-mail systems. They’ll work most reliably if you’re sending them between computers running Windows 8 or 8.1.

However, if you’re sending them to somebody using a different operating system, stick with the Text emoticon category, which lets you insert the always-compatible text-based smileys — :-).

Emoticons are resizable, so they work well as clipart when creating flyers and newsletters. After you insert them into your document, enlarge their font size until they’re the size you need.