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Salem State University | Department of World Languages & Cultures | Language Resource Center

International Characters

The LRC computers at the LRC use the English International Keyboard layout, so that one can easily type accented letters and other characters anywhere within Windows (not just inside the word processor Word, but in any program or window).

The International Keyboard layout of Windows results in two distinct ways to produce special characters:

  • Combination of the Alt key to the right of the space bar and keys
  • Combination of special keys (', `, ~, ^, ") and keys

    Combination of 'accent key' and letter key

    With the international layout there is also another way of typing accented letters:

    To type an accented letter (e.g. á, , , ), simply press the 'accent key' (', `, ", or ~, respectively) and then the basic letter in question (a)

    (NOTE: If you actually want to type the symbols ', `, ", or ~ before a letter, press the spacebar after typing them, e.g. 'a = '+ space bar+ a.)

    Apostrophe (') + letter (a,e,i,o,u) accented letter (á,é,í,ó,ú)
    Slant apostrophe (`) + letter (a,e,i,o,u) accented letter (à,è,ì,ò,ù)
    Quote marks (") + letter (a,e,i,o,u) accented letter (ä,ë,ï,ö,ü)
    Circumflex (^) + letter (a,e,i,o,u) accented letter (â,ê,î,ô,û)
    ~ + n ñ
    Ctrl-Alt-/ ¿
    Ctrl-Alt-1 ¡

    To learn how to set this up on your own computer go to this page at Dr. Aske's site

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    The right Alt key

    With the international layout, by using the right ALT key (AltGr in the pictures below) to the right of the space bar (not the one to the left) you can type many of the accented letters and other special keys used in European languages other than English, e.g.

    Right-Alt-key + letter (a,e,i,o,u) accented letter (á,é,í,ó,ú)
    Right-Alt-key + n ñ
    Right-Alt-key + /
    Right-Alt-key + 1

    For all the possible characters you can type using the right alt key see the following graphics:

    Normal keyboard keys:
    keyboard normal

    Characters obtaining when pressing AltGr (the right Alt key):
    keyboard with altchar

    Characters obtaining when pressing AltGr and Shift keys:
    keyboard with altchar and shift

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    Outside the LRC (non-LRC computers)

    So, what if you want to be able to type accented letters on a PC somewhere else, outside the LRC, on your computer at home or at a different computer lab? That is also possible:

    • On your own computer you can just select English International keyboard layout, OR
    • In any version of Word there is a way to insert special characters, OR
    • In any application, you can use the Charmap Windows utility

    For more information on setting up your own computer to type special characters, you may go to

    or to one of these places:

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    Salem State University | Department of World Languages & Cultures | Language Resource Center

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    Last updated: March 7, 2004