I like to use properly formatted extended ASCII characters sometimes (technically they're "ANSI characters"). This post is about giving some of you some keyboard shortcuts.
Why only "some of you"? Well because I think they work on a Mac, but I'm not sure since I don't have one. I haven't found a way to use them on my iPad, and laptops without numeric keypads are a challenge as well.
I'm pretty sure this is not news to a lot of you, but there's a whole new generation out there who don't know what the extended ASCII characters are. If they want to insert a special character, well they're only familiar with the menu in the MS Office programs.
Since I have some typography background, I know, for instance, that an "ellipsis" is not just three periods in a row. I even know what an ellipsis is! If you don't, well Google is your friend! Do you know when to use a hyphen, or an en-dash, or an em-dash? I know I don't use them exactly correctly according to the book, but I find that an em-dash — surrounded by a space on either side — makes text read better than either of the other two, in my eyes anyway.
So without further ado, here's a table of some of the special ASCII characters that I often use in my workflow. Feel free to add to the list. You can look these up here, but it's rather a lengthy list — there are lots more characters that I don't use. My list only includes the ones I use regularly.
These characters are typed by holding down the alt key ('option' on a Mac?) and typing the 4-digit ASCII code (don't forget the extra zero) on your numeric keypad. The regular numbers at the top of your keyboard don't work. On a laptop, you need to turn on the numlock which, on my Lenovo, is done by holding down the fn key and hitting scroll-lock.
(Blogger doesn't want to let me insert a table. So forgive the lack of formatting here. I used "Courier" font to maintain the spacing)
… alt-0133 Ellipsis
‘ alt-0145 Open single smart quote
’ alt-0146 Close single smart quote
“ alt-0147 Open double smart quote
” alt-0148 Close double smart quote
• alt-0149 Round Black Bullet
■ alt-254 Big Square Black Bullet (no extra zero)
– alt-0150 en-dash
— alt-0151 em-dash
™ alt-0153 Trademark symbol
¢ alt-0162 Cent symbol
© alt-0169 Copyright Symbol
® alt-0174 Registered Symbol
° alt-0176 degree Symbol
± alt-0177 plus/minus Symbol
² alt-0178 superscript "2"
³ alt-0179 superscript "3"
¼ alt-0188 one quarter
½ alt-0189 one half
¾ alt-0190 three quarters
The web page I linked to also suggests using one or more of these characters in a password, which would make it much more difficult to crack. But I'll leave that for the geeks among you. Oh wait, I am one…
Here is a formatted .pdf of the above list for you to keep handy near your computer. Enjoy!