French has a standard set of 26 letters. In addition to these letters, French uses several accents. They are about five of them as listed below:
- L’accent aigu (é) – e with the Acute Accent.
- L’accent grave (à, è, ù) – a, e and u with the Grave Accent.
- L’accent circonflexe or “chapeau” (â, ê, î, ô, û) – a, e, i, o, and u with the Circumflex Accent.
- La cédille (ç) – C with the Cedilla accent.
- Le tréma (ë, ï, ü) – e, i, and u with the umlaut accent.
This guide will teach you how to type special French Letters on a Mac or Windows PC using shortcuts on the English keyboard.
There are different methods for typing these characters for different documents depending on the Operating System you are using. You’ll pick up each of these techniques in no time.
Let’s get started.
Type French Letters using Alt Code (Windows)
To type the Special French Letters with Accents on the English keyboard, press and hold the alt key, then using the numeric keypad type the Character alt code as below:
- To type French letter L’accent aigu (é), press Alt + 0201 for uppercase or Alt+0233 for lowercase.
- To type French letter L’accent grave (à, è, ù), press Alt + 0192, Alt + 0200, Alt + 0217 respectively for uppercase. To type lowercase, press Alt + 0224, Alt + 0232, Alt + 0249 respectively.
- To type French letter L’accent circonflexe (â, ê, î, ô, û), press Alt + 0194, Alt + 0202, Alt + 0206, Alt + 0212, Alt + 0219 respectively for uppercase. To type the lowercase, press Alt + 0226, Alt + 0234, Alt + 0238, Alt + 0244, Alt + 0251 respectively.
- To type French letter La cédille (ç), press Alt + 0199 for uppercase and alt + 0231 for lowercase.
- To type French letter Le tréma (ë, ï, ü), press Alt + 0203, Alt + 0207, Alt + 0220 respectively. To type the lowercase, press Alt + 0235, Alt + 0235, Alt + 0252 respectively.
The table below lists all of the alternate characters for each of the Special French Letters – both lowercase and uppercase (i.e., small and capital letters).
|Description||French Letters||Keyboard Alt code|
|French Letter E Acute – Uppercase||É||Alt + 0201|
|French Letter e Acute – Lowercase||é||Alt + 0233|
|French Letter A Grave – Uppercase||À||Alt + 0192|
|French Letter a Grave – Lowercase||à||Alt + 0224|
|French Letter E Grave – Uppercase||È||Alt + 0200|
|French Letter e Grave – Lowercase||è||Alt + 0232|
|French Letter U Grave – Uppercase||Ù||Alt + 0217|
|French Letter u Grave – Lowercase||ù||Alt + 0249|
|French Letter A Circumflex – Uppercase||Â||Alt + 0194|
|French Letter a Circumflex – Lowercase||â||Alt + 0226|
|French Letter E Circumflex – Uppercase||Ê||Alt + 0202|
|French Letter e Circumflex – Lowercase||ê||Alt + 0234|
|French Letter I Circumflex – Uppercase||Î||Alt + 0206|
|French Letter i Circumflex – Lowercase||î||Alt + 0238|
|French Letter O Circumflex – Uppercase||Ô||Alt + 0212|
|French Letter o Circumflex – Lowercase||ô||Alt + 0244|
|French Letter U Circumflex – Uppercase||Û||Alt + 0219|
|French Letter u Circumflex – Lowercase||û||Alt + 0251|
|French Letter C Cedilla – Uppercase||Ç||Alt + 0199|
|French Letter c Cedilla – Lowercase||ç||Alt + 0231|
|French Letter E Umlaut – Uppercase||Ë||Alt + 0203|
|French Letter e Umlaut – Lowercase||ë||Alt + 0235|
|French Letter I Umlaut – Uppercase||Ï||Alt + 0207|
|French Letter i Umlaut – Lowercase||ï||Alt + 0239|
|French Letter U Umlaut – Uppercase||Ü||Alt + 0220|
|French Letter u Umlaut – Lowercase||ü||Alt + 0252|
Below is a step-by-step guide to type any of these Special French Characters with the help of the alt codes in the above table.
- To begin, open the document in which you want to type the Special French Letters. It could be Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or even in your web browser.
- Press the Num Lock key to turn it on. In other words, make certain that the numeric keypad’s keys are not disabled.
- Hold down the Alt key and type the alt code of the Special French character you want to type using the numeric keypad. The table above contains all the alt codes for the various French Letters.
- Now release the Alt key after typing the alt code with the numeric keypad.
NOTE: This option is only for Windows users. To type French Letters on Mac, refer to the next option.
How to Type Special French Letters on Mac (Shortcut)
A keyboard shortcut is the quickest way to type French Letters on a Mac.
Each letter with a French Accent mark has its own unique shortcut. They all, however, use a very similar keystroke pattern.
Let’s look at how to type any of these characters on a Mac using keyboard shortcuts.
|Description||French Letters||Shortcut for Mac|
|French Letter E Acute||é||[OPTION]+[e] then e|
|French Letter A Grave||à||[OPTION]+[`] then a|
|French Letter E Grave||è||[OPTION]+[`] then e|
|French Letter U Grave||ù||[OPTION]+[`] then u|
|French Letter A Circumflex||â||[OPTION]+[i] then a|
|French Letter E Circumflex||ê||[OPTION]+[i] then e|
|French Letter I Circumflex||î||[OPTION]+[i] then i|
|French Letter O Circumflex||ô||[OPTION]+[i] then o|
|French Letter U Circumflex||û||[OPTION]+[i] then u|
|French Letter C Cedilla||ç||[Option] + [Shift] + [C]|
|French Letter E Umlaut||ë||[OPTION]+[u] then e|
|French Letter I Umlaut||ï||[OPTION]+[u] then i|
|French Letter U Umlaut||ü||[OPTION]+[u] then u|
To use the Mac Keyboard shortcuts to type Special French letters with accent marks, first open the document that will contain the character and simultaneously press and release Option plus the corresponding key (see above table), then press the French letter you want to type.
Note: If you want to type uppercase French Letters on Mac, use the above hotkeys whilst your caps lock key is turned on.
For more options on how to type these characters specifically in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, refer to the remaining sections below.
Insert Special French letters with Accents in Word
NOTE: As shown already, using Option 1 (Alt code for Windows) and Option 2 (shortcut for Mac), you can easily type French letters with Accent in Word.
However, you can continue reading below if you want to learn more methods about how to insert these characters specifically into your Word document.
In addition to the alt code method, there are two other ways to insert the French letters with Accent in Microsoft Word. The first method involved using the insert symbol dialog box, while the second method involved using a keyboard shortcut that only works in Word.
Let’s explore these options one after the other.
Using Insert Symbol dialog
To insert the French special letters using the insert symbol dialog box, obey the following instructions:
- Open up your Word document and place the cursor where you want to insert the Character.
- On the Insert tab, go to Symbols > Symbol > More Symbols.
- The Symbol dialog box will appear. Select Latin-1 Supplement from the “Subset:” drop-down list. This will display all the symbols under this category including lowercase and uppercase French Letters.
- Locate the French letter you wish to insert and double-click on it. Alternatively, click to select your desired French Letters and click on the Insert button to insert it into your document.
- Close the dialog.
These are the steps you may use to insert these symbols in Word using the Insert Symbol dialog box.
Using keyboard shortcut for Word
Each of the French special letters has its own set of keystrokes. These keystrokes or shortcut keys are only designed to function in Microsoft Word.
Thus, if you want to type these symbols in a program other than Word, look into the other options in this post.
Below are the various shortcuts to type French Letters in Microsoft Word:
|Description||French Letters||Shortcut for MS Word|
|French Letter E Acute||é||Ctrl+’ (apostrophe), then e|
|French Letter A Grave||à||Ctrl+` (accent grave), then a|
|French Letter E Grave||è||Ctrl+` (accent grave), then e|
|French Letter U Grave||ù||Ctrl+` (accent grave), then u|
|French Letter A Circumflex||â||Ctrl+Shift+^ (caret), then a|
|French Letter E Circumflex||ê||Ctrl+Shift+^ (caret), then e|
|French Letter I Circumflex||î||Ctrl+Shift+^ (caret), then i|
|French Letter O Circumflex||ô||Ctrl+Shift+^ (caret), then o|
|French Letter U Circumflex||û||Ctrl+Shift+^ (caret), then u|
|French Letter C Cedilla||ç||[Ctrl] + [ , ] , [ c ]|
|French Letter E Umlaut||ë||Ctrl+Shift+: (colon), then e|
|French Letter I Umlaut||ï||Ctrl+Shift+: (colon), then i|
|French Letter U Umlaut||ü||Ctrl+Shift+: (colon), then u|
NOTE: These keystrokes will give you Lowercase Special French Letters. However, if you want uppercase characters, turn on the caps lock whilst typing the shortcuts.
These are the shortcuts for typing these letters in Microsoft Word.
Insert Special French Characters Mark in Excel
If you are using a Windows PC, you can easily type any letter with the French Accent mark in Excel. Mac users can also use the shortcuts stated in section two of this tutorial.
However, if you are looking for another way to achieve this specifically in Microsoft Excel, the steps below will show you.
To insert Accent on French Characters in Excel:
- Launch Excel.
- Select the cell that will contain the character.
- On the Insert tab, click on the Symbols drop-down button and select Symbol from the list.
- The Symbols Dialog box will appear. From the “Subset:” drop down list, select Latin-1 Supplement. All the symbols under this group will appear including all lowercase and uppercase French Letters.
- Click to select the particular French special letters you want to insert, then click on the Insert button. Alternatively, double click on the symbol to insert it into your Excel document.
These are all the steps needed to insert any of the French letters with Accent on top.
Insert French special letters in PowerPoint
Just like on Microsoft Word and Excel, you can use the French letters with Accent alt code to type them into your PowerPoint document.
However, if you want another way to perform this task especially for PowerPoint, keep reading.
To insert French letters with Accent in PowerPoint:
- Open your PowerPoint document.
- Place the insertion pointer on the slide you need the character.
- Go to the Insert tab on the ribbon.
- Click on the Symbols button to launch the Symbol dialog box.
- The Symbol dialog box will appear. From the “Subset” drop-down list, select Latin-1 Supplement. You should see all the French characters under this category of symbols.
- Select the particular French letter you wish to insert and click on the Insert button. Otherwise, just double-click on the symbol you want to insert into your PowerPoint document.
- Close the dialog.
These are the steps you need to be able to insert the Special French Letters in Microsoft PowerPoint using the Insert symbol dialog.
Copy and Paste French Letters
Another easy way you can get the French Letters on any PC (whether Windows or Mac) is to use my favorite method: copy and paste.
All you have to do is to copy the symbol from somewhere like a web page or the character map for windows users, and head over to where you need the symbol (say in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint), then hit Ctrl+V to paste.
Below are the French Letters for you to copy and paste into your Word document. Just select your desired symbol and press Ctrl+C to copy, switch over to your document, place your insertion pointer at the desired place, and press Ctrl+V to paste.
|Copy & Paste Special French Letters|
You can also use the Character Map to copy and paste any symbol or character on Windows. It contains every symbol or character you can think of.
Obey the following instructions on how to use the Character Map on any Windows PC.
- Click on the Start button and search for Character Map. The Character Map app will appear in the search results, click on it to open.
- The Character Map dialog will appear.
- Select the French Letters you want to insert by double-clicking on it, it should appear in the Character to copy: field, then click on the Copy button to copy the symbol.
- Switch to your document where you want to paste the copied symbol, place the insertion pointer at the desired location and press Ctrl + V to paste.
This is how you may use the Character Map dialog to copy and paste any symbol on Windows PC.
Among all these several options to type the Special French Characters, I think using the alt code method for Windows is the fastest option, provided you know the alt code for that particular symbol you want to type.
If you happen to use the Special French Characters often, you may consider making a cheat sheet for your reference.
Using the keyboard shortcut to type French letters is also a handy method for Mac users.
However, you can also use the mouse-based approach if you are inserting these symbols in any of the Office programs like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.