How to type in special symbols

A little tip from my own workflow.

Sometimes you need a special symbol in your blog post, document or what have you. (For example, a single proper ellipsis is one character, rather than using five to confect one from periods and spaces; useful when you’re using Twitter and only have 140 characters….) This is where Unicode encoding comes to the rescue. Rather than comb though various keyboard lists or hunt for a sample from a web search, you can type them directly. If you use an obscure glyph often — say a Maltese cross in an order of service — it can save time, too. It’s just a question of having the Unicode number of the symbol you want to use. Memorize it, or have a cheat sheet handy.

See this page for how to input Unicode characters in your operating system. As an Ubuntu Linux user, I hold Control, Shift and u together. This creates an underlined u character. Then I type in the four or five character Unicode number and hit enter. The desired symbol appears.

Here is a selection of Unicode symbol codes I use often — a cheat sheet for me (and you). But there are tons more.

¶ 00B6 pilcrow
· 00B7 middle dot
½ 00BD one-half
† 2020 dagger
€ 20AC Euro
? 22EF ellipsis
? 266B beamed eighth notes
? 2615 hot beverage (coffee)
? 2116 numero
? 2720 Maltese cross
? 2709 envelope
? 2123 versicle
? 211F response

(And now I see I need to have this blog render in a more Unicode-rich font.)

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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