Using Special Characters on Chromebooks

Matthew Thaxter
PD Account Manager / PD Specialist
News on August 20 2021

Many students or the average teacher may not know how to use special characters or diacritics on their Chromebooks. We’ve seen teachers try, with moderate success: Google Translate,, and Babelfish to copy and paste in order to get characters or letters with diacritic marks. These may not be perfect, yet they give the teacher something to work with when options are limited. Let’s take a look at better ways to type. Here are some important tips you may need if you find yourself needing to use special characters or diacritics on your Chromebook.

Insert Symbols

For most foreign/world language teachers, the use of Alt+ keys is crucial for typing diacritics for their handouts/presentations. If the teacher doesn’t know the keyboard-shortcuts, they can try this:Go to Google

  • Docs/Sheets/Slides (etc.) and select the INSERT option
  • Choose “special characters”
  • Find the character from the character sets available, many of the more common marks will be under category “Latin”
  • Insert as needed

Use the Keyboard Shortcut

An easier way to type a special character or diacritical mark is to use the keyboard. Since Chromebooks don’t have a numerical keypad, you’ll need to use the unicode shortcut rather than the alt key. You will most likely need a “cheat sheet” at first, but for commonly used characters and diacritical marks, you will soon find typing the code to be second nature. Here’s how to do so:

  • Hold the Crtl+Shift+U keys
  • You should see the little underlined u
  • Type the code for the special character
    • the tilde (ñ) is 00D1(see linked chart above – use the “Unicode code point” column)

Choose keyboard language & special characters

To take full advantage of the next steps for typing in diacritics on your Chromebook, you can use different keyboard languages, sometimes called input methods, on your Chromebook to:

  • Change your typing language
  • Use special characters, like accent marks or currency symbols

Set your Keyboard languages:

  1. At the bottom right, select the time
  2. Select settings
  3. ON the left panel, select Advanced > Languages and Inputs
  4. Select inputs
  5. Under “Input Methods” select “Add input methods”
  6. Select the keyboard languages you want to use > Add
  7. “Enabled” is listed under the current keyboard – you can toggle this on and off

Switch between keyboard languages

If you add more than one keyboard language, you can switch between languages from the shelf, next to the time.

  1. At the bottom right, select the time.
  2. Select Settings
  3. On the left panel, select Advanced > Languages and inputs.
  4. Select Inputs
  5. Turn on “Show input options on the shelf” Your current keyboard language code appears on the shelf, next to the time
  6. Select your keyboard language code
  7. In the “Input methods” box, select the language you want to switch to

Tip: You can also switch your language by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Space until the language you want is selected. To switch back, press Ctrl + Space.

Adding accent marks

The U.S. International keyboard has the following accent marks:
Acute (´): ‘ then letter
Grave (`): ` then letter
Tilde (~): Shift + ` then letter
Circumflex (^): Shift + 6 then letter
Umlaut/diaeresis (¨): Shift + ‘ then letter
Cedilla (¸): Shift + AltGr + 5 then letter

International Keyboard

Use the following combinations to type specific international characters on the US International keyboard.

  • Use the Alt key on the right side of the keyboard.
  • Hold down the Alt key on the right and then click a, e, i, o, u, or n.
  • Do the same for the question and exclamation marks


Acute (é): AltGr + e
cute (á): AltGr + a
Acute (ú): AltGr + u
Acute (í): AltGr + i
Acute (ó): AltGr + o
Tilde (ñ): AltGr + n
Umlaut/diaeresis (ü): AltGr + y
Umlaut/diaeresis (ö): AltGr + p
Umlaut/diaeresis (ä): AltGr + q
Cedilla (ç): AltGr + ,

As you can see, there are a few options for using diacritics and other typographical elements on your Chromebook. Choose the method above depending on your needs, You can also use a combination of any of these methods – try them out and see what works best for you.


For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.

We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.

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