This blog post is dedicated to all of the Céciles, Célines, Josés and Frédérics out there…
An easy way to make someone feel appreciated is to get their name right! (I’m sorry, Petar, for writing “Peter” in my email last week…) It does get a bit tricky when you are writing to Jesús or Agnès, however, as to really get their name right you need to stick in one of those funny accent marks…
The obvious way is to click the “insert symbol” function in Word or Outlook and look through all of the characters until you find the one you need, but this can sometimes take a while. When I was at university, typing out too many French essays, I reassigned the functions of all the function keys on my laptop, so that when I hit “F2”, an “à” appeared, and “F3” an “è”, etc. (I don’t think it worked for F1 for some reason.) I re-learnt to type with an extra row of keys and it really did speed up my essay-writing!
Now that I mainly write in English, my preferred method for inserting an accented character is to hold down the left Alt key and key in a 4-digit number on my keypad. So, Alt+0224 = à. The drawback to this method is that it doesn’t work if you have a laptop without a numeric keypad, and it doesn’t work on Macs.
An alternative to this, for those who don’t like to memorise 4-digit codes, is Microsoft’s suggested method of CTRL + accent mark, then letter which works on laptops as well as regular keyboards and Macs. For example: CTRL+`(ACCENT-GRAVE), the letter = à, è, ì, ò, ù À, È, Ì, Ò, Ù
Or, if you really like to use accented characters, try setting up your keyboard so that it uses an international keyboard layout. Then it will only take one extra keystroke to insert your character. Examples: ü = ” + u and é = ‘ + e
28 October 2008 18:09