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How to Add/Insert/Type Special Characters
One of the most common problems newcomers have is how to input characters not typically found on a computer keyboard. The problem usually arises after one learns about IPA.
There are several methods that can be used and which one is best will depend on your needs and preferences.
Here is a key to help you figure out which is best for you:
* Usable on any computer without any additional programs or modifications
+ Requires additional programs or system access.
M Macs only.
W Windows only.
XSAMPA to IPA Converters *
- XSAMPA, which stands for Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet, is a way of writing IPA using only the ASCII characters that could be reliably rendered in the early days of the internet. Given its ease of use (as well as out of habit) XSAMPA is still used today. In my experience it is typically used when typing quickly.
- However, when presenting a work it is generally nicer to use IPA. Without any other work one can simply copy-paste XSAMPA text into a covert which will then let you copy-paste the IPA into whatever you're working on.
● Sweet and simple
● Comparison charts and converter (top right).
- Also works well for figuring out XSAMPA if you haven't learned it.
Online Keyboards *
-There are times when the XSAMPA convert can't help though:
-If you haven't learned XSAMPA.
-If you don't want to keep copy-pasting symbols.
-If you need a special character or diacritic which isn't part of IPA.
-In those cases using an online keyboard can come in handy. These pages allow you to type in a box and when you need a special character you can simply click a button and the character required will appear below.
● Full IPA as well as several language specific characters.
Character Viewer M+
-For Mac users there is an additional easy method which can be used offline. The character viewer will show all the characters available (divided by section and searchable) and allow you to input them easily.
-It can be accessed via 'System Preferences' then clicking 'Language & Text.' On the far right click 'Input Sources.' At the top in the box on the left you should see "Keyboard & Character Viewer," make sure the box next to it is checked. Finally, near the bottom you should see "Show Input menu in menu bar" make sure the box next to it is checked as well.
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- Applications > System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources - Check box next to "Keyboard & Character Viewer" - Check box next to "Show Input menu in menu bar" - Both boxes must be checked!
-Now you can see a box contain all sorts of characters and symbols. If you want to insert IPA use the side navigation and click "Symbols" then "Phonetic Symbols." Not only can you find the symbols here but also several combining diacritics. To insert them into text either double-click the character (make sure the blinking cursor is where you want the text to come out) or drag and drop the character where you want it.
-If you want to insert other characters navigate to the script you wish to use. So if you want so add "ẙ" you would go to "European Scripts" and the "Latin."
-Additionally, if you frequently write in a language that uses special characters you might want to simply use a keyboard layout designed for such a purpose. Go back to "Language & Text" and check the box next to the language you use. A flag will appear in the menu bar and you can switch between keyboard layouts by clicking on the flag.
Custom Keyboard Layout +
-Depending on how frequently you use special characters the options above can become tedious. The quickest way I've found is to create a custom keyboard. That way you can assign the characters you use the most in a way that makes sense to you.
-My personal keyboard layout I use for English, IPA, Spanish and Swedish without having to do more than a few a key strokes. You will have to do a little initial work of setting up the layout and there are programs to help you do it.
● The Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator - Additional Instructions
● Changing keyboard layout on Windows 7 (& Possibly Vista) **Many thanks to Freddie!**
Compose Key W **Many thanks to cntrational!**Changing keyboard layout on Windows 7 wrote:1. Click on Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language & Region > Keyboards & Languages > Change keyboard or other input methods
2. Click Change Keyboards and a dialog box should appear.
3. If you have already installed a custom keyboard layout then select it from the drop-down box at the top. (If not, skip to step 5)
4. If you want to use this layout as default, click Apply and then OK. You may need to log off and then on again for changes to take effect.
5. To just use a natlang's keyboard-layout, go to step 6. To create a new keyboard layout, see instructions for "Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator" and then create your layout on there, export the installer and install it. You can then go to step 3.
6. If you just want to change your keyboard layout to another language then click "Add..."
7. Select the layout you want from the list and then press "OK".
8. If you want to use this layout as default, then, from the top drop-down box, select that layout and click Apply and OK. You may have to log off and then log on again for changes to take effect.
Note: Once you have added a layout into the "Installed Services" box, you can switch between these layouts using a Keyboard icon that should appear near the right-side of the task-bar. You must, however, have applied your changes by clicking "Apply" then "OK" after selecting your layout(s).
- Some keyboards come with a compose key. Using this key you can hit a sequence of keys which will then produce the special character you want. Additionally, another key (like ctrl) can be used if a compose key is not available. However, you will need a program to use this function. This method can be used on Windows and Linux computers.
● Freecompose - For Windows 2000 and newer.
● AllChars - For Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4, 2000, XP and Vista (partly), works with the ctrl key.