public‎ > ‎

Language Accents and Symbols

This article applies to Windows computers.


Accents and Symbols

Ah, symbols. This may be why your language teacher may or may not want you to use your tablet in class. If you are using OneNote, fine. You can type the letter and add the accent or whatever with your pen. But in Word, the going gets tough. If you are the step by step kind of person: Click on "insert" then click on "symbol"


Now, this can get kind of tedious. If you frequently use this, and I mean frequently, then you may want to create a shortcut so you don't have to do this over and over. Should this be the case for you:

Follow the instructions above and when you get to the window where you can pick your symbol, highlight the symbol that you want. Then look for the button that says,"shortcut key".  A new window should come up. Now this is the part that you need to be careful about. For example (French people), if you are inserting an accent circonflexe (^) over the letter "e", you should do something like "Ctrl+^, e" when you reach this window. This will mean that whenever you press that combo, an "e" with a circonflexe will always come up. But remember... If you (French again) were making an accent cedille (for you people who don't take French, that's the little hook under the "c") you would might select "Ctrl+c". But that is also the combo for "copy". What happens? It is automatically deactivated! If you use the "ctrl c" to copy things and this has worried you, no worry, there is a new combo (ctrl insert). It's all in how good your memory is.


Note that Word automatically provides default short-cut keys, which are somewhat logical for many common symbols. For example:

  • Spanish accented a: Ctrl+' (single quote), a
  • Spanish enya (the n with a wavy line over it): Ctrl+~,n 
  • Upside-down question mark: Alt+Ctrl+Shift+? 
    • That means hold down the Alt, Ctrl, and Shift keys while pressing question mark. The Shift is required because ? normally requires Shift. 


You can see the short-cut keys that are already assigned by bringing up the insert symbol tool as mentioned above and selecting a particular symbol.


Spell Check

So know you can get the non-English symbols you want while writing in your foreign language, but the spell check in Microsoft Word is annoying because it flags perfectly correctly spelled Spanish (or French or whatever) words with the red-squiggle underline. You can make spell check recognize the language you are working in and use the correct dictionary by adding non-English input languages. (See the steps below.)  After you do this, Word will usually correctly guess the language you are typing in after you type a few words. Then it will switch to appropriate language dictionary for spell checking.


How to add additional input languages

(This was tested on Windows 7 and Windows Vista.)

  1. Close Microsoft Word if you have it open.
  2. Start button and start Control Panel.
  3. Select Region and Language
  4. Select Keyboards and Languages tab.
  5. Click Change keyboards...
  6. Click the Add...
  7. Double-click on the language/dialect of your choice to expand the sub-choices.
  8. Double-click Keyboard under your selected language. 
  9. Put a check in the box next to US under Keyboard.
    • You are choosing US because the keyboard connected to your computer is a US keyboard regardless of the input language you are trying to add.   US is the correct choice here for any input language you are adding.
  10. Click the OK button to close the Add Input Language window.\
  11. Click the OK button to close  the Text Services and Input Languages window.
  12. Click OK or on the X to close other windows and Control Panel.

 For Windows 8

  1. Search for the Control Panel and open it.
  2. Open the Language button.
  3. Select the Add a language button
  4. Choose which language you wish to type in.
  5. Double click the new language option
  6. Select download and install language pack and let it run.
  7. Once the installation is complete select the language you want and move it up to the top using the Move Up button.
  8. Restart your computer and re sign in.
  9. You should now be able to use your new language preference.

As you type, Word will detect the language you are using and use the correct dictionary for spell checking. This even appears to work if multiple languages are used in the same document.