Entering special characters in Windows programs

Common ASCII codes

In Windows programs the individual characters of the ASCII character set can be inserted into your text by holding down the Alt key and typing a number on the number pad.They don’t work with the numbers along the top of your keyboard.

Make sure NumLock is on.

Here are the ones I find most useful:

Commonly used ASCII symbols from the standard set
Numpad Symbol NumPad Symbol NumPad Symbol
130 é 138 è 0224 à
174 « 175 » 0252 ü
156 £ 0162 ¢ 0165 ¥
0248 ø 158 × 0169 ©
172 ¼ 171 ½ 0190 ¾
0150 0151 0133
167 º 0178 ² 0179 ³

You may have different requirements, check the full set of 200-odd more characters from Alt+32 — Alt+0255 will be on this page along with a broader explanation.

This table shows the less commonly known ones which use Alt+Numpad 1 — Alt+Numpad 31.

ASCII symbols using the number pad 1 to 30
Numpad Symbol NumPad Symbol NumPad Symbol
1 11 21 §
2 12 22
3 13 23
4 14 24
5 15 25
6 16 26
7 17 27
8 18 28
9 19 29
10 20 30
31 145 æ 0177 ±

These are not to be confused with the much more extensive HTML character codes for inserting characters into web pages. See them on this page.


Control Facebook news feed

So your Facebook friend has 5,000 other friends and uses their news page like a supercharged Twitter feed. 500 posts a day telling you what a great muffin they had with their morning coffee and the colour of their new underpants.

Wisdom is the reward you get for a life time of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.

Doug Larsen

Or your granddad posts all sorts of serious shit but you just want to gossip. 🙂

You can unfriend the perpetrator but you’re a sensitive soul and you don’t want to hurt his feelings.

What to do?

Easy. Stop their news feed appearing on your home page.

Hover your mouse cursor over their name on a newsfeed item, then hover over the “Friends” button. Click on “show in news feed” to toggle the setting on or off.

Toggle news feed from Facebook friend

The tiny tool of the year

If you’re even slightly addicted to news and information on the web you need Readability. It’s a javascript “bookmarklet” which takes a page like this:

New York Times web page

wordpress line break workaround

and with one click turns it into this supremely readable text:

wordpress line break workaround

Same page made readable

Pages on the New York Times’ outstanding website, like the one I’ve demonstrated above, are among the most user-friendly and least cluttered news pages so you don’t really need Readability, but you get the idea.

It takes about 10 seconds to set up Readability, it works on most pages containing articles and on any operating system. It’s compatible with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all. All you need to do is select your text preferences on this page at arc90 Laboratory then drag the Readability link button from their page into your Favorites or Bookmarks, preferably onto the toolbar.

If you wish to return to the original cluttered version of the page, just refresh your browser page » Ctrl or Cmd+R in Firefox, F5 in Internet Explorer. Get Readability here See the 1-minute tutorial here: Shhh, I’m Trying To Read!