- Geeks Computer Tech

There are times when you want to include a symbol as part of your work. Perhaps in a document where you want the symbol to be the same size as your text.

A good example would be when including contact details. Instead of typing the word Tel: followed by a telephone number, you might want to have a symbol of a telephone number.

You could just find an image of a telephone and use that of course, but then it would be fiddly getting it to the right size and having text flow around it properly.

Luckily for us there are special fonts that we can use. Even every day fonts that you use all the time have some symbols - letters with accents such as "é" for instance. But also other useful ones like the copyright symbol "©", fractions such as ½ and ¾ etc.

Scientific and mathematical symbols are there in most fonts too so you can give the temperature as 31° without having to spell out degrees and use ± instead of writing plus or minus. All my examples so far are there in the standard Arial font.

So too are arrows, letters of foreign alphabets, the four suits of a deck of cards, smiley faces, musical notes... You thought perhaps there would be around 70 or 80 characters in the Arial font? 26 letters, 26 capital letters and a set of numbers plus all the other charaters you see on your keyboard? There are over 150 characters in Arial. But not a telephone... Drat... But all is not lost yet or else how would I have included the telephone symbol at the foot of my email above?

So let's have a look ...er... where to look...

We start by clicking the Start button. Then choose All Programs, Accessories and System Tools. There you will see an icon labeled Character Map.

This does not contain Bill Gates' family tree or employees but something far more useful (unless you are a future descendant looking for the vital link to claim a share of inheritance).

This is what the Character Map looks like. You scroll down to find the symbol you want. You then click it upon which it becomes bigger so you can see if it is the one you thought it was and if it is the one you want to use you click the Select button to add it to the box at the bottom and then the copy button which puts it into the clipboard so that you can now switch back to your document and paste it in the usual way.

If you don't find the sybol you wanted then try a different font.

You can drop down and choose from a list of fonts. Some of these will contain purely symbols. For instance the Webdings and Wingdings fonts. Strangely, the Symbols font is a grave disappointment to most searchers of symbols... Oh, and the Euro symbol "€" has a font all of its own - the Euro Sign font!

When pasted these may revert to other characters from whatever standard font you are using. (I am currently agog with excitement wondering whether all my work in finding the symbols mentioned will actually show up when I post this blog entry!)

If you find your symbols have turned back into somewhat random but ordinary letters in the same manner as Cinderella's coach at midnight then you will have to go back and amend the font. So I'm fairly confident my Arial symbols will show ok but the Euro sign may well just be a "B" or something! (Actually it worked just as it should do!)

I found my telephone symbol in the Wingdings font and it is shown here after I clicked on it, which is why it has expanded to this size.

Enjoy those symbols!
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