Special characters are commonly used, but hard to find. If you want to type a special character in Windows 11, use this guide to get started.
Your standard QWERTY keyboard includes plenty of keys for punctuation, but only a limited number of special characters.
What happens when you want to type something more specialized, like a character for a math equation, or a character from a different language? You’ll have trouble finding these special characters on a standard keyboard.
Luckily, you can find those characters on Windows 11 if you know where to look. Here’s how to type special characters on Windows 11.
Enable the Touch Keyboard in Tablet Mode
Provided you have a touchscreen laptop, you can use the touch keyboard to type several special characters on Windows 11. It’s probably the easiest way to add special characters.
To enable the touchscreen for special characters on Windows 11:
- Open the Start menu and select Settings.
- When Settings opens, navigate to Time & language > Typing > Touch keyboard.
- In the Typing menu, check the Show the touch keyboard when there’s no keyboard option.
Enable Touch Keyboard without Tablet Mode
Another way to access the touch keyboard is by making it show on the taskbar full-time.
To make the touch keyboard accessible, you’ll need to tell Windows 11 to show it. Use the following steps:
- In the Start menu, select Settings.
- From Settings, navigate to Personalization and expand the System tray icons section.
- Set the Touch keyboard to Always from the dropdown menu.
- You can access the touch keyboard option from the lower-right corner of the taskbar to bring it up.
How to Type Special Characters on Windows 11
When you need to input a special character in your document, you’ll be able to use the touch keyboard to do so.
Use the following steps to do this:
- Place the blinking cursor where you want to insert your special character in your document.
- Click or tap the Touch keyboard icon from the keyboard to make the on-screen keyboard appear.
- Click and hold a key, or if you’re on touch, press and hold a key on the touch keyboard. It will display extra symbols that you can use instead.
- Select the special key you want to use from the touch keyboard, and it will appear in your document.
- You can also add emoji or GIF icons. Click on the emoji button (the heart icon on the upper-left corner of the keyboard). That option works well if you want to have fun with the document you’re creating.
How to Insert Emojis on Windows 11
If you don’t want to use the touch keyboard to type special characters, you can use emojis directly from your document.
To insert emojis on Windows 11, use the keyboard shortcut Windows key + period key to bring up the emoji keyboard. When you select one of the emojis, it’ll add it to your document.
While this pop-up menu is useful for emojis, you can use it to find GIFs or insert a smaller selection of special characters, such as currency symbols.
How to Use the Character Map on Windows 11
You can also use the older Character Map tool to copy special characters to your keyboard.
To use the Character Map tool on Windows 11, do the following:
- Open the Start menu and type character map.
- Select Character Map as the top result.
- When the Character Map window pops up, you’ll find several different characters you can use with various fonts. Just change the font from the dropdown menu.
- Click the special characters you want to use and click the Select button.
- Click the Copy button and paste the special characters into the document when ready.
Using the US International Keyboard
Another option you have is the US International keyboard. It’s suitable for an English speaker who uses special characters, such as diacritical marks or accents.
To access the US International keyboard, use the following steps:
- Open the Start menu and press Settings.
- Go to Time & Language > Language & region.
- Click the three-dot button to the right of English (United States) and select Language options.
- Scroll down and click the Add a keyboard button next to the Installed keyboards option.
- Choose the United States – International keyboard.
- When you want to use the US – International keyboard, hit the Windows key + Spacebar to bring it up and select it.
- You can get different combinations to get special characters, (eg. ALT+E to display é).
For additional help, read the Washington State University guide to special characters you can use with the United States International keyboard.
Using Special Characters on Windows 11
The steps above should help you to type and use special characters on Windows 11, whether it’s a diacritical mark or an emoji.
There are other ways you can customize your setup to make it easier to write certain types of documents. For example, if you’re an academic, you may want to know how to use the MLA format in Microsoft Word or set up MLA format in Google Docs. If you’re using academic documents for psychology, education, or other social sciences, learn to format Word docs in APA Style instead.