Many of us have set Windows to use English as our language. If you have your keyboard set as the standard 101/102 key keyboard, you can use a combination of the Alt key and the keys on your keyboard’s number pad to create special characters like some of those used in languages other than English.
You can check or change your language and keyboard settings via the Control Panel. For the keyboard, select “Printers and Other Hardware” and then Keyboard. For the language setting, select “Date,Time,Language, and Regional Options” then “Regional and Language Options.” Mine is set to “English(United States)” in the Regional Options tab and the Advanced tab.
Since this technique uses the number keypad, if you don’t have “Numlock” turned on, the keys do not put out the number code.
Hold down the Alt key while you type the numbers on the numeric keypad. If you have Numlock turned on, the special character should show up when you let go of the Alt key.
I often need to type the "é" character. Rather than going to the trouble of getting the Windows character map, I know that Alt-130 will give me the é character.
Really, my notebook is my primary computer — and it doesn’t have a numeric keypad. Well, really it does, superimposed over the 7,8,9,0,u,i,o,p,j,k,l,;,m, and / keys. I have to use the Fn key to access these numbers, so to do the Alt-130, I really have to do Fn-Alt-130 — I hold down both Fn and Alt while I type the 1, the 3 and the 0.
I’ve found a great web page that have tables of the characters you can create using the Alt-numpad trick. You can find them here on the Windows – Alt Key Numeric Codes web age.