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This article is somewhat pointed towards using the Airheads List, but most of this information is applicable to any text document, or E-mail message, to anyone, any list, any forum ....even for printing letters/documents for any use. The assumption is that you are using a conventional keyboard, but on-screen keyboards are very similar. Use of foreign keyboards is also very similar, EXCEPT that the @ character is missing on most (that is one of the things covered in this article).
While there are other methods for editing, my recommendations are simple & generally work well. If you are new to computers, I suggest you open any text editing program first. That could be Notepad, Wordpad, Word, etc...and practice a few things at a time. You will learn ...so be patient!
E-mail: You may need to do some very basic practice; so, simply take any E-mail message you have received, click on REPLY, and play with the message. Clicking on REPLY is not the same as REPLY ALL, or FORWARD. Experiment. So long as you have not clicked SEND, you won't 'send' your 'practicing'. Of course, you could always change the addressing & send the message to yourself when done playing.
This article contains basic as well as advanced information. If you are new to computers, you may find more information here than you can assimilate with one reading, and may need time & practice to understand and be proficient.
Many who are quite familiar with computers do not know some of the things!
What happens when you click REPLY; or REPLY ALL to a message will depend considerably on the settings your computer (or smart phone or tablet) has or you have made, & what type of E-mail program you are using and its settings. The settings & software in the recipient's computer (for E-mail and sometimes other document types) also has a major effect. Because of this, many, if not most folks, do not see your, or any message, in exactly the same way/format/etc., that you do! This is more especially so if you are sending in HTML. Plain Text sending is often better.
At the end of 2013, and well into late 2014, many changes were made in how E-mails were handled by Internet Service Providers, & in E-mail programs themselves. Changes began in a wholesale manner by such as Yahoo, Comcast, etc. The result is/was that the FROM line may not be accurate if you are on a mailing LIST, for identifying who actually sent the message ...the message may only show the LIST name, or something similar. There were major problems with the Airheads LIST. Micapeak.com whose Mailman software and various hardware runs that LIST for free, made changes to try to best cope with the problems the various changes made. Another result is that if you are using DIGEST MODE on the Airheads LIST, you may have to do EXTRA editing and pasting of messages. You can ask on that LIST on how best to utilize the Digest Mode, before you use that mode. It is a lot easier to just not be a Digest Mode Member. I do NOT get into how to edit the addresses and pasting, in DIGEST MODE, in what follows in this article. I do NOT recommend Digest Mode.
The differences in how E-messages are displayed to you and others varies considerably at times. That is one of the reasons that standardized settings are often the best, such as Plain Text, which I highly recommend. Plain Text does not allow photos & colors; but, may allow special characters. I previously would, upon request, furnish a MUCH more techy document I wrote, how the problems came about, what DMARC is, and so on. I no longer even have that overly technical document, because it confused too many. I will attempt to keep things relatively simple in this article you are now reading ...it is NOT just for E-mail, but for almost any document ...especially if you are composing it.
The editing methods I describe in this article are nearly universal, & you will find it in most every word processing program, even that ode to complexity called Microsoft WORD or its simpler cousin, WORDPAD; even the bare-bones Notepad; as well as most other word processing software.
If you are a Member of an E-mail LIST, I recommend that you set your Email program, if you can, so that replies to such as firstname.lastname@example.org (or, most any internet mailing list or forum) are automatically sent by you in PLAIN TEXT. Yes, I know that Micapeak's latest E-mail program will strip off HTML (photos, colors, etc), but some others do not. I have other reasons ...and don't feel like getting into the confusion or a long-winded explanation here, but using PLAIN TEXT also shortens the message coding very considerably, even though you don't see that displayed; and, you are much less likely to have a wrong display of some character. PLAIN TEXT means that the message does not contain colors (except links), images, & certain special effects and certain characters are not available, & therefore not sent. The result will be that messages are likely to look the same to all who read them, and editing by you, or others, will likely look like they really should; and, the total message size (much is hidden, as noted) is much smaller. Plain Text really is the way to go for Lists, Forums, etc.
HTML (and versions called Rich Text, etc.) is computer-speak for computer code for such things as photos, colors, and many other 'fancy things'. It is best not to use HTML or Rich Text for LISTS and GROUPS. I suggest you do not send images or colored text to micapeak.com as Micapeak's servers will strip them off, sometimes leaving 'weird stuff'. Under some specific situations, Micapeak's servers MAY simply refuse to pass on your message, and it simply is sent to the List Moderators (possibly me) for processing. Then we have to deal with it, and that usually delays things. If you sent HTML or Rich Text instead of sending in PLAIN TEXT MODE, that will nearly double the over-all message bytes size, even if it does not look that way to you. You can NOT send photos, attachments, etc., to the Micapeak Airheads LIST and have them displayed...they are removed automatically. Please do NOT even try....it can make lots more work for the Moderators. Some Forums/Lists, such as the /5 List, will allow HTML.
Your E-mail program has a setting for PLAIN TEXT. Just where you will find that in your E-mail program preferences or options or settings... is a matter of what program you use.
IMPORTANT: In most E-mail programs you can set any particular E address (in your computer E-mail address book you send messages to), for "plain text composing & sending", or, some such words. Many programs are also set up, or you can set them up, to reply in the same way (plain text or HTML) in which they are sent. This is useful if you wish HTML to be your normal sending method, and so set the E-mail program. Thus, whenever you send something to a particular address, only Plain Text will be sent (and, often the HTML characters are grayed-out or otherwise not available in your program, for THAT particular address).
You could always just click, each time, in the appropriate place in a program to be sure that your message is sent in Plain Text, if you have it set for HTML (or Rich Text) for normal use. I find that to be annoying to remember, and the reverse is a bit better in that regards, ....but setting your addresses for ALL LISTS AND FORUMS AND GROUPS in your E program for Plain Text is BEST. It can even help if strange characters are being sent ....which confuse or are wrongly displayed, or otherwise annoy many recipients. The vast majority of LISTS and FORUMS on the Internet have HTML turned off by the list/Forum owner/Administrator. That is for safety purposes to help eliminate possible malware, & to limit the size of unneeded hidden HTML coding part of messages. SOME LISTS, forums, and Groups (such as SOME Yahoo Groups) do NOT have HTML necessarily turned off. For those that allow it, you CAN send photos, and rich text, etc. MOST DO have HTML turned OFF. Some specify NO HTML in their Rules. With the essential demise of Yahoo Groups, .io has taken over being the host for Groups. You usually CAN post HTML such as photos, sketches, etc....but the Server may reduce sizes and reduce resolution, etc....it often depends on the host's settings.
On those mailing lists, groups, etc., that do not allow HTML, if you want to post images you must post them separately, to some on-line hosting service (many are totally free), and show an address, called a link, to the photo(s) in YOUR message to the LIST/GROUP. As noted previously, on those groups, forums, and LISTS, with HTML turned ON, you can post photos. Please keep them reasonably small in size. MANY of those that allow photos will reduce the size of your photos automatically, some do NOT. Keep in mind that there is NO REASON, for the purposes of viewing photos on a computer monitor screen (even very large screens), to have photos in a RESOLUTION of over 72, nor, a size over maybe 8 inches in any dimension.
DO NOT set your E-mail program for Quotable Printable. That means far more than the words seem to indicate! It can cause all sorts of fun and games for those trying to read such a message. Perhaps strange line breaks where an equal symbol appears (=), ....ETC. It can get messy and hard for others to read.
There can be further complications when using foreign characters, foreign keyboards, & especially with special symbols, etc. Best to use PLAIN TEXT MODE.
I suggest you set your E-mail program preferences so that the original message is always quoted in the reply. That makes it easier to have the message you are replying to be on the page, and then you can, and should, edit-out (delete) what you do not want left. You can add notes inside that message, if you want to, by identifying your portion. I do that now and then by placing ASTERISKS in front of my reply, but usually replying to messages does not need to have that method used. Be careful about using colors for that purpose, as the color might not be displayed. Sometimes I do use asterisks for very long originator's messages where I don't want to edit out much, and am, perhaps, making numerous inserted replies.
Those of you who specified DIGEST MODE when signing up for a Group or List may want to rethink being on that mode, particularly since often it results in considerable extra work for you in editing when you want to respond to a message. Posting an entire Digest is considered bad etiquette! Ask the Group or List or Forum about editing and posting.
It used to be standard protocol (for the Airheads List, and most Groups, etc) for all replies to be inserted AFTER the original message (and, you would be sure to edit the original message, leaving just enough to show what is needed). That means that replies were not placed at the beginning of quoted material. This came about originally from the way the "Internet" worked a long time ago in certain programs. Today folks do both top posting and bottom posting. While I have NO objections to YOU top posting, bottom posting, or inside message posting (there are, every year, threads/arguments on this subject,) but ...please, folks, ... internet etiquette WAS & IS that replies are placed AFTER quoting the original (which you edit so only the needed information is left). I am not at all interested in debating this point. Disclosure: I sometimes DO post on top.
I DO OBJECT, STRONGLY, if you fail to edit and thus leave all of the prior post(ings) in your message. SNIP what is not needed. DO NOT reply by including an entire Digest.......a HUGE annoyance for those reading your reply. This especially happens if YOU are on Digest mode, or receive Digest Mode messages ....and then reply with the entire digest without editing out most of it. PLEASE, do NOT fail to remove unnecessary other replies & chit chat from a Digest Mode message that you are replying to! ... leave just needed basic information from the message to identify it reasonably. Some folks pay by the byte, that is, they pay by "bandwidth". PLEASE be courteous & snip/edit your messages & replies! MANY folks will NOT even try to read such a whole digest being published, they simply click DELETE on your message. I personally find Digest Mode NOT worthwhile. I never use it.
NOTE: The use of hand-held Smart Phones & Tablets has been increasing & are likely to eventually surpass the use of laptop & desktop computers. Smart phones & tablets are a world unto themselves as far as 'funny stuff' that CAN happen when trying to (or forgetting to) edit messages. That is due to the operating systems & mail programs being used. Be extra cautious & careful, particularly if you are on Digest Mode on such as the Airheads List.
Here is my personal method for dealing with those folks who do not comply with courteous editing of a Digest (or, thread): I do not try to read hardly any of it. I scan it very quickly, just enough to make sure it really is a big long Digest being posted. I then delete the entire posting. I simply do not read nor respond, unless I am so annoyed that I post a response about having had to wade through an entire digest. I can be unpleasant if the person repeats and repeats doing this. I consider postings of entire digests DISCOURTEOUS. Can you imagine what Smart Phone readers are seeing! ....and they or others are paying for? Yes!! there ARE people who pay by time/byte. I am an Administrator/Moderator on some Lists and Forums. In that capacity I am usually forgiving, but I may post to you, or the entire group (more necessary now with the E-mail changes I discussed much earlier....because the non-complying sender, you, often does not have their individual E-address shown in the FROM area, due to how many E-mail programs work. I rarely look up their address, so I end up publishing my admonishment to EDIT to the entire LIST, which will be embarrassing to you! Multiple repetitions WILL be dealt with in a stronger manner.
BASIC EDITING, simple methods:
I assume you are using a mouse. If using a touch pad, or touch screen, modify your method appropriately.
To edit out parts you do NOT want sent in YOUR reply, there are several ways, and you will be in REPLY, REPLY-ALL, or FORWARD modes:
Method #1: Move your mouse to move the on-screen cursor to the beginning of the portion/part you want to delete, & left click once. That changes the cursor typically to blinking & places it at that point. Now move the non-blinking mouse cursor to the END of what portion you want to eliminate, THEN press & hold the SHIFT key down, & while that key is down, left click the mouse. That has now highlighted just the area you wish to delete. Press DELETE on your keyboard. If you are left-handed, & have set your computer to reverse your mouse button functions, you know what to do!
Method #2: Move your mouse to move the cursor to the end or beginning of the portion/part you wish to deal with. Hold the left button of the mouse down (or appropriate button on the laptop while you move your finger on the touchpad) as you move the mouse in any or all directions to highlight the area of interest. Raise finger from the button (touchpad if using that), and press DELETE.
Highlighting tells the computer you wish to do something to THAT area.
(For those of you having Mac computers: When using a Mac, the Windows Ctrl key is called the CMD key (Command); and the Windows ALT key is called the Option key).
Some folks like to find and use commands from the Toolbar, usually located near the top of their E-mail program, but here are the pertinent important key strokes. Capitalization of the key character is NOT required; rather, just press the key with the character on it.1. To COPY an already highlighted area (perhaps you want to just copy, or copy & move a paragraph or section, or copy to someplace else in the computer, or print that part, or any number of reasons), press the Ctrl key, & HOLD IT DOWN, & WHILE HELD DOWN, press the C key. That copies the highlighted section into what is called the Clipboard. The Clipboard is hidden & is just like the name sounds like, in function. Whatever you save to the Clipboard remains there until you either put something else there; or, turn off the computer. If you want to, you can 'use it' as many times as you wish with the same information you had temporarily saved to there! In a MAC, the key strokes are Cmd (hold it down) and press C.
2. To PASTE that copied item (which you placed onto the Clipboard) to anyplace in a page, move the mouse pointer so the cursor (usually most computer users have the computer set for the cursor to be blinking) is at the place you want to put the information you copied, & then left click. That places the blinking cursor at the place you want to put a copy of what you saved to the Clipboard. Press & HOLD Ctrl (or, Cmd), & press V. You can do this multiple times if you ever had a reason to ....yes, no limit to the number of copies ...until you place something else on the Clipboard, or, turn off the computer. It is even possible to copy an image, with or without text, to the clipboard & insert it, in the same computer session, to a document, or many documents, E-mails, ETC. S In fact, you can copy and paste even entire documents & even sound & video files.
3. Instead of JUST copying, as in 1., above, if you wanted to copy AND delete the highlighted area, use Ctrl and X, instead of Ctrl and C. You can still paste as noted, by Ctrl and V.
4. By commonly accepted computer use, instructions to press & hold a control or option type key, while you press another key ....is displayed in computer shorthand as: Ctrl + C; or Ctrl + V; or Ctrl + X. It could be ALT + something else; or a MAC Cmd key if you have that. These are used for other functions besides the simple copy or copy-delete, & copy insert (pasting) I have already explained. It is best to press & hold the first key & THEN while holding it, press the second key. This avoids any problem with both keys not making electrical contact at precisely the same time. There are actually some commands that use three keys, all three ending up pressed at the same or alternating times ...but those are NOT used for editing documents.
5. To grab/copy an image or do some things I have and have not mentioned, use the RIGHT button to click on the image (or text area, or?), see what options you are given. You may have to first HIGHLIGHT the item. So, yes, there is a RIGHT CLICK function on your mouse, which has additional things you can do, including copying photos & either placing them someplace as a COPY, or MOVING the photo. Lots of functions are available, and the functions are not always the same, depending on the program, etc. Experiment! Become proficient!
If the right and left click functions are not as you like, there is a mouse command function settings page in your computer, in Windows it is in the Control Panel. NOTE that LEFT-HANDED folks may like to reverse their mouse buttons functions.
Repeating: Many of you have Mac computers. When using a Mac, the Windows Ctrl key is called the Cmc key (Command); and the Windows ALT key is called the OPTION key.
HINTS ...for E-mail:
You might RECEIVE messages & have trouble editing out (or editing at all) old material when posting a reply. This happens now and then, seemingly randomly. The problem is nearly always due to the wide variety of coding behind the scenes in the various E-mail programs in use by those sending you a message. The internet is relatively standardized regarding such as WEBSITES coding, but this is NOT SO for E-mail. MANY E-mail programs are in use. It is UNFORTUNATE that E-mail was not more standardized long ago.
The EASY answer to the problem, if you have trouble editing, is for YOU to convert the message to PLAIN TEXT & thereby edit and then send your reply message in PLAIN TEXT format. All e-mail programs have that capability, usually via some semi-hidden setting. The down side is that PLAIN TEXT eliminates your ability to use colors and eliminates other HTML, forms of which are called Rich Text, ....things such as photos. The best thing is, 99% of the time, to change the reply you are doing to PLAIN TEXT, doing this in the beginning before you do further editing. Most mailing lists and forums do not allow colors and photos anyway, so plain text is best....as has been emphasized in this article you are reading. If you must use HTML, go ahead and use it.
Some E-mail programs allow you to set individual contacts, in composing mode, as HTML or plain text, which is nice, as you can use HTML as the general setting, if you'd like to, and when you compose a new message to, say, a LIST, it automatically is in plain text, if you wanted that. You may find that a PLAIN TEXT setting will save you a bunch of time and bother! Plain Text almost always allows you to post hyperlinks....those addresses that appear in blue and are underlined, clicking on which will send your computer to the address.
Look at your E-mail contacts list, see if there is a setting for individual addresses to have your messages to THAT address be in PLAIN TEXT. That includes LISTs and Groups. An address you probably are interested in is (amongst others): Airheads@lists.micapeak.com . Set your E-mail address book so your messages to that address have composing done in PLAIN TEXT. If you are using Airheads@micapeak.com, please remove ....and use Airheads@lists.micapeak.com.
If you don't use Rich Text or HTML in any form very often, YOU CAN set your entire E-mail program to use plain text. You can always 'click' on the appropriate button, to convert any message you want to initiate or otherwise work with, to HTML.
Foreign travel, foreign computers:
If you went into your computer settings for the KEYBOARD (the location of this function varies by operating system; for Windows it is usually in the Control Panel as KEYBOARD on early Windows; and, Region and Language on later Windows computer operating systems), you could reset your keyboard for MANY different foreign styles. UNfortunately, you would need to catalog and then remark your keys unless you owned a foreign-marked keyboard. Unless you really need a foreign keyboard layout, I suggest you leave yours for English. You may be very interested in the settings in your Control Panel program just mentioned, as it controls how all sorts of things are displayed.
When you travel to some foreign countries, hotels that offer free computers often, but not always, use foreign keyboard settings. They may have keyboards that look just like yours, but pressing some keys do totally different things than you are used-to. Re-said, they MAY OR MAY NOT be using a keyboard corresponding to that country's settings for the keyboard. You can change keyboard settings IF YOU HAVE ACCESS TO THE CONTROL PANEL PROGRAM FUNCTIONS, see the prior paragraph, above (which you may not have access-to if in a hotel or motel & the computer is 'protected'); or, you must find out which are the important keys you must know. In most countries I have visited, the keyboard has English characters on the keys, and you will not have too much trouble using the keyboard...EXCEPT.... there is a character that is critical to know about. There is a key combination that may drive you crazy, if you do not know about it, and no one is around to ask about it. I highly suggest that if traveling to a foreign country, you write down the following information, shortening the information as you desire:The @ symbol is NEEDED to send E-mail (yes, are other methods, too complicated to show here).
If you cannot find the @ symbol, or even if you do find it in its usual place on the numeral 2 key near the top left corner of the keyboard, and you find it will not display that symbol @, by using the Shift key and 2 key, then you need to know about a universal method. After all, the hotel management may not like you playing with the Control Panel settings (if you have access).
NOTE that on some keyboards & with some software, you may need to have the NumLock light on the keyboard either turned on or turned off, to have the following work OK:
While you are looking at the composing area of an E-mail, and looking at the blinking cursor on the screen:
Press ALT + 64. DO NOT type the + symbol; here it simply means press and hold the ALT key, while pressing 6, releasing the 6, then pressing 4 and releasing the 4. Then release ALT. On normal large keyboards, that 6 and then 4 is to be pressed on the RIGHT SIDE numerical keys, NOT the ones at the top of the keyboard!! On LAPTOPS and small devices, consult the owners booklet on how to obtain ASCII symbols from the keyboard.
Keep in mind what I said about the Numlock key, you may or may not have to have that function on.
Here is what pressing ALT, and while holding it, pressing 6 and then 4 on the RIGHT SIDE numerical keys area, does in my computer, and probably yours: @
Composing-printing-sending special "Characters" from your computer:
I suggest that you either print this section and then use the information to practice on your computer; or, you open your E-mail application, start to compose, and have both windows open and shrunk some on the monitor, read this article on the left, practice on the right. If you print this section, some of the special characters may not print correctly. In fact, some of them may not display what I intend them to look like, on your monitor screen right now! This is one of the problems with computer settings.
What follows is NOT intended to be a course in ANSI-ASCII,.....it is intended to QUICKLY give you a basic working knowledge.
You can put characters, accents, etc., including 'foreign ones' that you want ....into WORD and other word processing documents, as well as in E-Mails! ...this section tells you how to do it. I already gave you ALT + 64, above. TRY that in E-mail composing mode, before reading further. You can also try it in almost any word processing application, including NOTEPAD, which is included on Windows computers.
Way back when we nerds first started using computers, there was a set of 256 characters we had access-to, numbered from 0 to 255. Two standards were used, that have some close similarities. There was the America Standard Code for Information Interchange, ASCII (typically spoken as ASS-KEY), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), typically spoken of as ANN-SEE. Letters, numbers, and things like grammatical items such as these: )(*&^%$#@ and others, including foreign letters and characters and most mathematical characters, are all ASCII and ANSI specified. There are two, three, and 4 character CODES that you could enter on the right side number area of the keyboard (laptops can be very different), in a special way, and the screen would display some certain character, regular character, even various shaped lines, hearts, spades, etc....all of which had various computer purposes, for the basic to moderately advanced user....and for programmers for advanced work. This is simplified information. Often you must turn ON the NumLK (numbers lock) function ...on smaller laptops and some large keyboards.
Modern computer programs have text formatting and many other things, like margins being specified, bold, italic, underline, tabs, and embedded objects, ....so things became complicated over the years. ASCII does not support layout nor embedded objects....and is often just called DOS (an old pre-Windows term for Disc Operating System) or PLAIN TEXT. There is no need for me to explain that last sentence any further here.
The names ASCII and ANSI are often used interchangeably, and often wrongly so, but for our purposes here, just use the special characters we are going to be involved-with, in the slang & generic way, ...just call them ASCII (ass-key) symbols. There are vastly more than 256 now. We have all sorts of different world-wide languages that need to be displayed on screens, and a whole vast array of punctuation marks, all are commonly used. Accent marks of numerous types are an example. Chances are GOOD that you only need to know a very FEW of these codes. For a bit more advanced information, there is likely, in your computer, a way of getting characters from almost any language used in the World; and all sorts of icons too. THOUSANDS are available. You can easily download from the Internet a chart of ASCII code and ANSI code, and keep it by your desktop computer. I do.
Because my website is devoted nearly entirely to BMW motorcycles, a German brand, you might want to know how to make certain characters appear on screen (for such as E-mail composing), using your keyboard. There are a couple of methods, but I teach the simple method in this article. You CAN easily get THESE, and MANY others: ö ü ê
You also can easily get commonly used Spanish characters, ...these and MANY others: ñ Ñ
Other things, just as example, are available, EASILY: ™ © ¿ µ £ € Ø å æ ¢ § Ω
Get the idea?
Almost any symbol or character is available to YOU from YOUR computer. On a practical basis, you can obtain the characters from a character map chart (built into your computer), or, from a paper or screen chart showing all the various forms and how to display them, or from inside a program that has the character charts. OK, confused yet? Hang in there for a bit longer!
NOTE: Even on the same computer, some of these things I will teach you here will work on one of your programs, and maybe not another. Most of the time these things work OK. On most computer systems, the FONT you are using will have effects, and you can get the wrong symbol when using some fonts. On OTHER computers, and in some E-mail programs (Outlook, as an example), you must be in PLAIN TEXT mode to have all the symbols correctly displayed and coded as YOU want. So, if something I tell you to do/try here does not display the correct character/symbol, maybe you are not in plain text mode. BUT: MANY programs display the characters just fine, either plain text or HTML RichText mode.
I do NOT intend to get into fonts hardly at all. I will simply suggest you use either Calibre, Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New. The reason is that these are pretty much universally properly interpreted by just about all E-mail programs (and websites, etc.). Just also know that E-mail programs have settings for fonts that you prefer. There are MANY to select from, some look crazy. I suggest you only use one of the four I noted. This article was primarily written in Arial size 4 (14 pt), bold, with some section titles as size 5 (18 pt) bold.
This is Times New Roman in bold.
This is Arial in bold.
This is Courier.
This is Calibri in bold.
This is Calibri not in bold.
Note that all 5, above, are in size 4 (aka 14 pt) as written. They do not SHOW as all the same, especially the Courier and Calibre, but they are, officially, size-wise.
Just for fun, I have put some other fonts below, but I suggest you DO NOT USE THEM. There are hundreds of fonts, and you have MANY in your computer. Of course, you can use particular characters, but someone else's computer might not show them properly. Use of strange fonts WILL likely not display well.
This is Calibre.
This is Broadway
This is algerian
This is one of many script fonts
adfe0=29cj;lakjg Yes, you can display and even print in Greek.
So, you now know that foreign characters & every sort of special characters are available from your computer.
Nerdy: You can make your own characters in various ways, including very tiny photos.
Many of you have Mac computers. When using a Mac, the Windows Ctrl key is called the CMD key (command); and the Windows ALT key is called the OPTION key.
There are several methods of getting these characters into a document or E-mail, etc.
ONE method in Windows systems is to find the Character Map (usually something like this path: start-> Programs-> Accessories-> System Tools-> Character map) and use it. IT IS SLOW TO DO IT THIS WAY, SINCE YOU MUST DO SEVERAL OPERATIONS. Still, the character map can be useful; and there are different character maps for each font that you select in that character map program. If you want to experiment, you might want to put a shortcut icon to the Character map, on the desktop; right click the listing, and send it to the desktop as a shortcut. Using the Character Map is a bit of a hassle. You might want to spend some time looking at the various Character Map versions (try changing the font inside the Character Map ...this won't affect your regular computer use). The Character Map does allow you access to many hundreds of special symbols, and all sorts of fonts variations, which have their own sets of characters sometimes, etc. You probably already know how to make a smiley, from your keyboard, ...there are some very standard 'smiley's, etc., made from regular keyboard keys and not directly from ASCII or ANSI code.
I quite rarely use the Character Map, as I typically only use about a dozen or two dozen special characters, and those are easy to either memorize, or write the key strokes down someplace, or print a chart of them from the internet.
Programs like Microsoft's WORD (especially later versions of WORD) have most of these special symbols/characters built-in, and you can call up the chart in WORD while composing or editing in WORD. There are a number of various charts located at the same access box. Although it may not seem intuitive, and probably isn't, the various charts are called up by asking for different FONTS in the SYMBOL program ITSELF. For example, in Office WORD 2007, you can find the function by clicking on INSERT, and then selecting what you want, which is either the sub-heading EQUATION (yes, has those too!)....or, in this case, SYMBOL. Select the character (try different FONTS, see how it changes things a lot). 95% of you will NOT need, nor use, the information in this particular paragraph ...and things are different in later WORD programs ...as to where you find the function. At present I am using Office 2016, which has additional fun features, but the basics are still there.
When you press the keys combinations, if the special character does show on your screen, it USUALLY will display OK on other folks screens. There are a few exceptions. The 'and' character & might show a question mark ...and a few other anomalies ...on FOREIGN (non-English keyboard) computers.
Even more nerdy (you can likely forget this paragraph):
Just how ANSI-ASCII works on YOUR computer will vary with the "character set" that is in use by your computer. This is SETTABLE in certain places and programs. If your character set is Western European, you may find the coding in a page, if you ever looked deeply enough, to say something like this: charset=iso-8859-1 or, perhaps Windows-1252. The setting determines some nuances of the character YOU will get from a key combination. If you do not get the character you expect, see the next section, you are probably using a foreign country setting. Look it up on the internet, find a chart, print it.
For a rather complete listing of all (or most all) special characters (be prepared to print them if you want-to):
http://www.keyboardhelp.net. There are a number of topics, and a LIST of ASCII and ANSI codes are available, etc. If you really want to know more about special characters, that is a good, fairly simple place to study about them. Laptops, particularly smaller ones, almost always do NOT have numerical keys located as on large keyboards, which have them ON THE RIGHT SIDE. Laptops vary by manufacturer as to how to use the laptop to obtain special characters. MANY laptops do it this way:
1. First, press the key that has this marking: NmLK or perhaps is NmLK. It means NUMBERS LOCK. That key may be combined with some other function.
2. In NmLK mode, press the Fn (FUNCTION) key, HOLD IT DOWN while you press the keys on the laptop that have the tiny NUMBERS on them. Most laptops have a set of number keys along the top area, and SOME of them may also have these tiny numbers...but you will usually find some, if not all, of these tiny numbers printed on the other keys of the laptop, seemingly randomly.
If these things do not work, look up the documentation for YOUR laptop, probably searching for something like "using ASCII on laptop (brand) (model).
Open any text editing program, it could be Notepad, Wordpad, Word, etc...and practice a few things at a time. You WILL learn this stuff ...SO BE PATIENT! IT WILL pay off for you as you become more knowledgeable.
For a rather complete listing of all or most all special characters (be prepared to print them if you want-to):
http://www.keyboardhelp.net. There are a number of topics, and a LIST of ASCII and ANSI codes are available, etc. If you really want to know more about special characters, that is a good, fairly simple place to study about them.
Most of you will only use a few ANSI/ASCII characters, and there is a much easier way of dealing with them, which follows below. This is primarily what you will probably end up knowing.....and using! I have mentioned these earlier in this long article. Now, I get into it again, in a simple manner, but with more information.
Below are examples of a few symbols you might be interested in using ....and how to get them into your document or E-mail, etc. Note that in many instances of foreign letter characters, they are available in both lower and upper case. Reminder: the plus sign +, as used below, means only that you HOLD the ALT key down, and then, still holding, push the number keys on the RIGHT side of your keyboard, one after another in sequence, releasing them ....THEN RELEASE the ALT key. Laptop owners may need to press the Fn or other key, as there is no right side number keyboard for most medium to smaller laptop owners (except some large ones). See your documentation or my earlier suggestions for laptops, that may work for you.
The ASCII-ANSI charts listings include 'strange' punctuation marks, even a space non-character and some exponent numbers, and some fractions.
(1) When you type on the regular use section of your keyboard, for 'regular' letters (both upper and lower case), and all numbers, and all punctuation, ETC., as shown on your keyboard, those are all actually ASCII-ANSI. Your computer converts ALT + xx or ALT + xxx or ALT + xxxx to digital ones and zeroes. This is a very simplified way of describing it, but is adequate for here.
(2) Beginning at ALT + 0140, non-keyboard characters are available. Type any such number while holding the ALT key ...see what happens (use any word processing program, open a blank page, and try these things). Try in Notepad if you have it.(3) Some ANSI-ASCII items do not show up in some particular programs. Sometimes, if you try them, you will get strange characters.
Have fun, and try some out. If intrigued, get a chart of them from the Internet, and print it.
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Last check/edit: Monday, December 07, 2020