Various programs such as MS Word and WordPerfect offer program-specific ways to enter accented characters on a U.S. keyboard. The problem arises when you need to use accents in those programs AND in e-mail or other Windows programs. However, there are several ways of typing French accents in any Windows program. Here are two (plus a note on MS Office 2000). Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but I recommend the second . The first doesn't require any changes to the windows system, but it is somewhat unwieldy and may not work in every program. The second is easy to use and remember, works in all Windows programs (as far as I have been able to discover), but requires a small keyboard adjustment.
IThe first method involves holding down the ALT key and typing numbers on the numbers keypad (the numbers on the right hand side of the board, not those along the top). When you lift your finger from the ALT key, the accented character appears as follows:
For the euro sign (€) use ALT 0128
To type the French quotation marks (« ») use the RIGHT ALT key plus [ and ].
There is an easier way to speed up symbol entry that works well in any Windows application:
For Windows XP
From the control panel select "Regional and Language Options," ( i.e. from the
start button > settings> control panel
>Regional and Language Settings
then click on the "languages" tab, and "details, then "add keyboard," and check "keyboard layout" and select "US International" as your keyboard. You can easily switch between the keyboards by means of the language bar keyboard icon that you can keep in your windows tray.
For Windows 98 or NT
If you use MS Office 2000, and do not wish to change your keyboard as above, shortcut keys for accents exist within all Office 2000 applications (including Word, Access, Outlook, Excel). This will not work for applications outside the MS Office 2000 Suite and will not work in earlier versions of Office.:The shortcut keys are all listed under help on the Word menu bar. Find them by searching help for character, selecting Insert symbols and special characters, then selecting Insert an international character using shortcut keys. Print the page to refer to as you type.
The advantage to this method is you don't have to modify your keyboard. Students at many universities are unable to do so, anyway.
The disadvantage is that MS Office shortcut keys will not work with other applications, such as Netscape, IE Explorer (for French searches, e.g.), Notepad, interactive language CDs, e-mail other than MS Outlook, and many more).
Nevertheless, for those who do a lot of typing in French (especially in applications outside Office 2000), and are able to modify their keyboard as in II above without inconveniencing other users of the computer, II represents the best long-term solution for typing accented letters.
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