How Do You Type Letters With Accent Marks on a U.S. PC?


Quick Answer

For Macintosh and Windows computers, selecting one of the international keyboard layouts using the control panel produces accented characters with any application. If accented characters are required infrequently, use keyboard combinations and special codes unique to each operating system to use accented characters.

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Full Answer

For Macintosh computers most accented characters use the Option key and one or more alphabetic key combinations. The sequence requires holding down the Option key, then holding down a second key based on the accent required, releasing all keys, and then typing the desired character. For example, create an acute accent by holding down the Option key and E key, release both, and type the character. Some characters only use the Option key plus a character. A list of character shortcuts for Apple operating systems can be found on the company’s web site.

For Windows computers the options can vary depending on the version of the operating system and even the application. For example, some keyboard shortcuts only work with Microsoft Word or Excel and not in a web browser. Changing the keyboard layout differs based on the operating system. The easiest keyboard shortcut for Windows requires using the Alt key and the numeric keypad (using the numbers across the top does not work). Holding down the Alt key and then entering a four-digit character code produces accented characters and numerous special characters. Character codes work with any application on any Windows computer. Lists of character codes can be found on the Internet for most languages.

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