As the title indicates, today I want to talk to you about ASCII codes.
Okay. I hear you asking me: What is this, anyway? ASCII codes are simply keyboard shortcuts that are, granted, less known. In any case, when I talk about them around me, I get puzzled and uncertain looks.
When we talk about shortcut keys, the best known are used to do actions because we often have to perform the same acts over and over again in a day, including:
+ = (copy)
+ = (paste), etc.
The shortcut that amazed me most when I got my first job, and that I rushed to scribble in my notebook, is used to change the character case.
If I write “You’re the best”, but (oups!) I wanted to put everything in capital letters: select the sentence, press + and presto! “YOU’RE THE BEST.”
No need to erase everything and rewrite in capital letters.
The same shortcut also allows you to put everything in lowercase or keep the first letter of the word (or sentence) in uppercase.
There are a lot of lists for “action keyboard shortcuts”, including: http://ccm.net/faq/4374-microsoft-office-word-keyboard-shortcuts.
ASCII Codes are shortcuts used mainly to insert symbols when you write: special characters (ex. æ, €, ø, etc.) or letters of the alphabet. Like a Web writing assistance tool.
Why do I want to elaborate on these shortcuts in particular?
1 – They are less familiar.
2 – They are really useful when things go wrong.
Indeed, it is a piece of cake to insert special characters with the MS Office Suite. That is why people don’t even wonder if there would be another way, maybe even faster, to add these characters. However, beyond these softwares and out on the Web, there can be technical difficulties.
Who hasn’t snapped against the keyboard trying to insert an @ that wouldn’t come out? Even if you had successfully used these keys the day before?
Moreover, everywhere we go, we are told that we live in the age of social networking. The way we communicate and write has changed. Businesses now reach customers through Facebook and other networks.
Let’s say a landscape architect wants to share a list of his projects to promote his services. He wants to write something like: “I did the landscaping on a 300 m2 plot of land for that client”. It would be unfortunate not to put the exponent to the symbol for meter. The exponent appears as a normal number when we try to copy paste this sentence in Facebook. So, what to do?
Option 1 – Simply avoid writing this sentence. Nope! Not really an option.
Option 2 – Write in full: square metres. But, admit it, it lacks a touch of elegance. And there are way too many characters for Twitter!
Option 3 – ASCII codes to the rescue!
I learned these “codes” because of a Web application that the company I worked for used to bring together all their project fact sheets. There too, copy paste wasn’t a valid option: squares would appear instead of the wanted characters. That’s why, when I looked for keyboard code lists to share with you, I really wanted to find some with the instructions so that you could perform them yourselves.
Look no further! Here are some links!
If you are with PC: http://www.symbole-clavier.com/.
I tested some in Google, Logiterm, Antidote (search area), Facebook, Twitter, InDesign, and all the ones I tried worked.
Note: numbers must be typed on the keypad (square of numbers on the right). To do so, press + .
You’ll then be able to do every code you want. Hours of fun!
With Mac: http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/biophysics/technotes/program/ascii_ext-mac.htm. However, I wasn’t able to do every code I wanted in the list. I don’t know if it’s because the keyboard layout is different. To be continued…
Small difference with PC: even letters can be used to insert special characters, as long as you press Shift, Ctrl and/or Alt at the same time.
Another option: if you have a website and you like playing with HTML, it is really easy to insert characters with ASCII codes. You simply put “&#” before the numbers associated with the character (without the 0 at the beginning) and a semicolon after the numbers.
For example, to insert a @:
- Facebook (or other): Alt+064
- Website (HTML): @
The lists above are altogether well organized and clear. However, they only include a small portion of all thousands of possible signs because ASCII codes include all known alphabets.
If you want the complete list (with PC), here it is: http://code-ascii.outils-webmaster.com/
I hope this information will be useful to you. Please feel free to contact me with any feedback or suggestions.
Some Useful ASCII Codes