How to type international characters (e.g. ??, ??, ??) easily in Windows 7

My aunt, an editor who frequently edits Afrikaans books, asked me if there wasn't an easier way to create Afrikaans letters such as ??, ?? and ?? than using the ASCII / UNICODE codes for them. In the past it wasn't really a problem for her, but she recently bought a laptop that doesn't have a numeric keypad which makes it quite a bit trickier!??

I decided to put together the following visual tutorial to help out. It is based on this Microsoft article.

Firstly, click on Start and type in??



Click on the result above to run the program and open the Region and Language dialog. Click on "Keyboards & Languages" tab.??


Click on the Change Keyboards button.??


You'll see your default keyboard selected. In my case, a US keyboard.??

Click on Add…


Under English (South Africa) -> Keyboard click on Show More… A long list of options will display.??


Click on United States-International and then click OK.??


You will now see United States-International added to the list. Click on OK.??


Click OK again to Close the Region and Language dialog.??

On the bottom right hand corner of your screen, you should now the "Language Bar" displayed (the icon of a keyboard). Pointing your mouse at it will briefly show you what keyboard setup your computer is using.??


Click on the keyboard icon and select United States-International. (UPDATE: I've noticed that it often defaults back to the US option automatically. Not sure why…)


Once you've done this, you'll be able to type international characters much more quickly. E.g. to type the letter ?? simply press ^ and then the letter e. Or to type ?? simply hold the Right Alt button and press S.

See the picture below for some common characters.??


More character mappings are available at??

4 thoughts on “How to type international characters (e.g. ??, ??, ??) easily in Windows 7

  1. Oh wait, I already told you how in the text of my post! Hold down the Right Alt button and press S (No need to get a Mac! except you wouldn’t need to set up an additional keyboard)

  2. <font color=’black’ size=’2′ face=’arial’><FONT face="Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">One thousand thanks! Weeks of querying Microsoft, Google, Lenovo (IBM), and sundry other sights brought nothing but frustration and increasing anger. It was the Right Alt button, not the Left Alt button which we all normally use, that answered my dilemna. Now the skies are clear. Why can’t the clowns at all of the above provide such a consise, simple direction? No reply needed. Thanks again. Afraid I am too old to learn a new system, as elegant as the MAC certainly is.

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