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How to Use Accent Letters and Special Characters in Microsoft Word

While many different languages can operate within the English alphabet, there can be special characters and accent letters that still need to be used. Take the Spanish ‘ñ’ for example. While most Spanish words can be written with English letters, however, certain characters require accents or in this case, a tilde. 

So how can you add one of these special characters or accent letters while editing a document in Word? There are several different ways you can go about this depending on your preferences. The first option can be a little clunky and time consuming, but can be perfect for those who have a hard time remembering key shortcuts. The second option might take some time to memorize, but will increase your writing time exponentially once it’s mastered.

Inserting Accented Letters and Special Characters via the Menu Bar

Open up your Microsoft Word document and then follow these quick and easy steps to inserting a symbol. Like stated above, this isn’t the most smooth or efficient way of inserting characters, but it can work great for those who only need a special character once in a while.

accent letters and special characters insertion
  1. Navigate to the Insert tab on the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  2. Click on the Symbol option on the menu bar
  3. This will bring up a window that displays a wide range of symbols, special characters, and accent letters. You can sort your selection or scroll through the entire collection to find what you need.
  4. Once you find your symbol, simply select it and click Insert

Inserting Accented Letters and Special Characters Using Keyboard Shortcuts

If the first option seemed too tedious and time consuming, then this might be your style. It will require the memorization of a few different key combinations, but once you have those down you shouldn’t have an issue incorporating it into your normal typing skills.

Microsoft Word has built in key combinations that will automatically add the letter you need. For example, if you are looking to add a ñ, all you would need to do is press and hold Ctrl, Shift, and ~ together, then release them and quickly press the ‘n’ key.

If you want your character to be uppercase then simply hit the Caps Lock key prior to performing the key combination.

Here is the full list of key combinations you use in Microsoft Word.

Accented Character or Special SymbolRequired Shortcut Keys
à, è, ì, ò, ù, À, È, Ì, Ò, ÙCtrl + ` (accent grave key) + the letter
á, é, í, ó, ú, ý, Á, É, Í, Ó, Ú, ÝCtrl + ‘ (apostrophe) + the letter
â, ê, î, ô, û, Â, Ê, Î, Ô, ÛCtrl + Shift + ^ (caret) + the letter
ã, ñ, õ, Ã, Ñ, ÕCtrl + Shift + ~ (tilde) + the letter
ä, ë, ï, ö, ü, ÿ, Ä, Ë, Ï, Ö, Ü, ŸCtrl + Shift + : (colon) + the letter
å, ÅCtrl + Shift + @ (at) + the letter
æ, ÆCtrl + Shift + & (ampersand) + letters a or A
œ, ŒCtrl + Shift + & (ampersand) + letters o or O
ç, ÇCtrl + , (comma) + letters c or C
ð, ÐCtrl + ‘ (apostrophe) + letters d or D
ø, ØCtrl + / (back slash) + letters o or O
¿Alt + Ctrl + Shift + ? (question mark)
¡Alt + Ctrl + Shift + ! (exclamation mark)
ßCtrl + Shift + & + letter s

If you’re having keyboard problems, check out this article on what to do when your keyboard stops working.

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