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Character Map \windows\system32\charmap.exe

Display all the characters and symbols in a particular font. This provides access to symbols not easily accessible with the keyboard

To Open

Start Programs Accessories System Tools Character Map

Command Prompt charmap


Character Map displays a visual map of all the characters in any font, making it easy to paste them into other documents (see Figure 4-15).

Figure 4-15. Use Character Map to access the symbols you can’t normally type from the keyboard

To use Character Map:

  1. Select a font from the Font drop-down list. If you’re inserting a character into an existing document, you should select the same font that is used in the document.

  2. Find the character you wish to use; click once on any cell to magnify its character. If you can’t find the desired character, remember to scroll down. If the selected font doesn’t have the character you want, try another font.

  3. Double-click the character you want (or click once and then click the Select button) to place the character in the “Characters to copy” box. You can place as many successive characters as you want in this box.

  4. Click Copy to copy the character(s) to the Windows clipboard.

  5. Switch to your other application, click where you want the character(s) to appear, and paste (using either the Edit menu or Ctrl-V).

  6. If the font in the target application isn’t the same as the one you’ve selected in Character Map, you’ll need to highlight the newly inserted character(s), and then change them to the same font you used in Character Map. If the character in your document doesn’t look as it did in Character Map, it’s because the wrong font is being used.


  • Effective use of Character Map relies on correct font selection, especially when you’re pasting characters into applications that don’t support multiple fonts. For example, the default font used in Notepad is Lucida Console (changed by going to Notepad Format Font), and the default font used in most text boxes is Tahoma (changed by going to Control Panel [Appearance and Themes] Display).

  • Character Map is helpful not only for selecting extended characters in standard fonts, but also for accessing dingbats, such as those found in the Webdings, Wingdings, Symbol, and Marlett fonts.

  • Character Map is useful for finding out what key combination will produce a nonstandard character in any given font. This can eliminate the need to repeatedly go back to Character Map to retrieve the same character. Select a character in any cell and see the corresponding character code in the status bar. For example, the Yin-Yang symbol in Wingdings is character code 0x5B. Now, this is a hexidecimal code, so you’ll need to use the Calculator to convert it to a decimal number. In the Calculator’s Scientific mode, click Hex, type the code (not including the 0x prefix - 5B in this case), and then click Dec to view the decimal equivalent (91 in this case). To then insert the character into an application using the keyboard, hold the Alt key, and type the code using the numeric keypad (the numbers above the letters won’t work). In the case of the Yin-Yang, type Alt-91. Appendix E lists some of the most useful character codes.

See Also

“Fonts Folder”, “Calculator”, “Private Character Editor”

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