Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quick Reference Guide for making Diacritical Marks by Kaye Spencer

Every so often, I write a story that includes words that are spelled with diacritical marks, aka 'accent marks'. Diacritical marks are common to many languages, and the basic purpose is to change the 'sound-value' of the letter to which they are added. Each diacritical mark has a specific name, such as ‘tilde’ for the symbol that goes over the ‘n’ in the Spanish word, señor or the ‘umlaut’ over the ‘u’ in the German city of Düsseldorf.

Since I don’t use words that require diacritical marks enough to remember the combination of commands to create a specific symbol, I created a quick reference PDF to help me. I have a printed copy posted near my computer. Sometimes, I use the “Symbol” command in Microsoft Word, but there are a lot of symbols to wade through when all I have to do is look at my quick reference sheet for the keyboard command.

Even though I know I can add words to my custom dictionary, I’ve encountered annoying auto-correct issues when I’ve done this, so I tend not to add the occasional ‘odd’ word to my dictionary.

I know the image below is difficult to read, but to be able to include it in this post, I had to make it small. However, it does give you the basic idea of what my Diacritical Marks Quick Reference Guide looks like. The upper portion in the boxes explains how to make the symbols using a combination of keys with the CTRL key. The table below the boxes explains how to get those symbols, and many others, using the Alt key with a sequence of numbers.

I have a nice PDF of this 'cheat sheet' available for download at my website. Just click on this link and you'll land on the page where you can download the document:

Until next time,


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Twitter — @kayespencer

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