Unlike English, the French language uses a number of accents, ligatures and diacritics. Using these marks is easy enough if you’re writing by hand. But when it comes to typing, suddenly it becomes a lot less simple. Keyboards (and laptop keyboards in particular) have limited space, meaning accents are hidden behind keyboard codes and combinations that aren't always obvious.
Luckily, for Macbook users, all you need to do to type in the desired mark is to hold down the key for the relevant letter, and a pop-up box will appear with a selection for you to choose from. The same is true for iPhones, iPads and Android phones. Simple!
For Windows users, however, it’s a bit more complicated.
There are a few different ways to write French accents, diacritics and ligatures on Windows keyboards.
One option is to use punctuation keys to achieve the accent you want.
To do this you will first need to hold down three keys simultaneously.
First of all, hold down the Ctrl key.
Next, depending on which accent you want, you will need to hold down one of the following keys: ` (grave accent, e.g. à), ' (acute accent, e.g. é), Shift + ^ (circumflex, e.g. ô), Shift + : (tréma, e.g. ï).
Finally, press the letter you would like to add the accent to.
However, you can only write accents this way. If you want to type a cédille (ç) or a e-dans-l'a (æ), for instance, you will have to go about it another way.
Other ways to type in accents
You could set your Windows keyboard to a French layout, although this may interfere with what you write in your first language, and may be difficult to get used to. You could also type in ‘c cedilla’ or ‘a acute’ into your search engine and copy and paste from there. But that can be a little convoluted, and you’ll need to have Internet access.
The simplest method is to use the Alt codes. These are a series of four-digit number codes, combined with the Alt key, that will produce the mark you wish to use. Bear in mind however that you will need to have access to the number pad.
The alt codes for each mark are as follows:
|Â||ALT + 0194||â||ALT + 131|
|À||ALT + 0192||à||ALT + 133|
|Ä||ALT + 142||ä||ALT + 132|
|Æ||ALT + 146||æ||ALT + 145|
|Ê||ALT + 0202||ê||ALT + 136|
|È||ALT + 0200||è||ALT + 138|
|Ë||ALT + 0203||ë||ALT + 137|
|É||ALT + 144||é||ALT + 130|
|Î||ALT + 0206||î||ALT + 140|
|Ï||ALT + 0207||ï||ALT + 139|
|Ô||ALT + 0212||ô||ALT + 147|
|Œ||ALT + 0140||œ||ALT + 0156|
|Û||ALT + 0219||û||ALT + 150|
|Ù||ALT + 0217||ù||ALT + 151|
|Ü||ALT + 154||ü||ALT + 129|
|Ç||ALT + 128||ç||ALT + 135|
|«||ALT + 174||»||ALT + 175|
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