Recently, subscriber Sandra Day wrote to ask me about a problem she was having. She knew one way to solve it — Word’s Insert Symbol dialog box, but that’s a pretty clumsy way. Here’s what she wanted to do:
Hi Terry! I have tried repeatedly to learn how to use a shortcut to insert a tilde over an “n” (as in jalapeño) in a Word document, but the keystrokes I find listed on the internet never seem to work. One shortcut suggests the control key + the tilde key above the tab key + n, but that doesn’t work. Another suggests Alt + 0241, but that doesn’t work either. I can use the symbol chart to insert it, but would prefer a shortcut method. Do you have any ideas? Is there a way to add that symbol every time I type the word “jalapeno”? Thanks for your help.
If your problem is always jalapeno, you could use Word’s auto-correct function — put the misspelling as jalapeno and then the correct version with the tilde over the “n” — that should create an automatic correction for you.
You set up the auto-correct function in Word 2003 as follows:
- Open Microsoft Word
- On the menu bar, click on Tools, then AutoCorrect Options…
- On the AutoCorrect tab, which is the default, set up your misspelling and correct spelling
- Click In the Replace: field, then type jalapeno
- Click in the With: field, and type jalape, paste the ñ after the e, and then type o
- Click the Add button
- Click the OK button, which will close the AutoCorrect Options window
Now, type jalapeno in Word and you’ll find that Word will automatically correct to the revised spelling.
If this doesn’t work, go back to the AutoCorrect Options… window and make sure that there is a checkmark by “Replace text as you type.”
If you’re not in Word, there’s a similar dialog box available in any Windows application — the Windows Character Map. The character map is a Windows version (usable in any program) of the Word “insert symbol” tool. You can find it via:
Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools
The Alt-0241 key combination really does create the lower case n with the tilde — but, individual programs must allow that to happen. My email program (Eudora) uses alt-2 to cancel an email, so you can see that holding alt and pressing 0 is ok, but when I press the 2 (while still holding the alt key down), Eudora tries to close the email.
There are three important tips for using the Alt key combinations:
- You have to hold down the Alt key while you type all the numbers. The Alt key is like the Control key — it MODIFIES the signal produced by another key. Pressing the Alt key doesn’t create a character to go in your document (yes, it sends a signal to the processor, but it’s not a signal that says “here’s another character to be processed.”
- You have to use the numeric keypad to create the alternative characters. The number keys across the top of the keyboard will not do this.
- Numlock has to be turned on.