The cross with the characters

Our character set, the Unicode, contains tens of thousands of characters. Our keyboard comparatively few. If you express yourself in only one language, you have a keyboard which is configured in a way that you can get the needed special characters with simple keystrokes or in combination with the key AltGr (=Alternate Graphic) reaches. If this key AltGr does not exist, you can alternatively use the key combination Ctrl-Alt for this purpose. (Does not apply to Ctrl-Alt-Del ).

To the title of the post "The cross with the characters" To be fair, let’s assume someone creates a family tree. Then for a birth date it needs the asterisk * and for a death date it needs the cross (died) †. But the cross does not exist on the keyboard.

Since the early days of the IBM PC, our keyboard has offered a universal key combination for entering characters, which can be used to "put down on paper" any character (even from the Unicode character space).

You press the Alt key and hold it down, enter the decimal character code at the numeric keypad, and then release the Alt key again.

PCs without a 10-key keyboard

Many of the contemporary users own a laptop and therefore know this numeric keypad only from visits to their bank branch. You can be helped. Either there is an option on their laptop keyboard that this numeric keypad can be activated as an additional occupancy variant in the alpha character range, or one can have an on-screen keyboard displayed on any PC that one operates with the mouse.

Windows -> Input "Bilds…" -> On-screen keyboard

If the 10-key keyboard is not shown, you have to activate it via the special "Options" key. If you use it more often, you should generate a tile with "Pin to Start" and move it to the "Tools" area.

Now how do you find the code for this "died" sign?

With Windows on-board tools like this:

One opens the character table (Windows -> Input "Zei")

and searches for "kreuz. Some characters are found in whose character name "cross" occurs. You select the desired character and at the bottom of the window you get two codes: U+2020 and Alt+0134 . (The English name for this sign, by the way, is "Dagger". and according to the dictionary this means not only "cross" but also "dagger. Interesting!)

The U+2020 means that it is a Unicode character with the hex code 2020 and that is in decimal notation 2*4096+0*256+2*16+0*1 = 8224.

So there are two ways to enter this character:

Alt 0134 and Alt 8224

Whether a † actually appears in both versions depends on the program you are currently using. In Word the character appears with both inputs but in WordPress only the first variant. This has to do with the fact that WordPress is an html editor and you have to generate your own html code for entering higher unicode characters. Actually, the WordPress editor could take care of this; but it doesn’t.

Word can do more

In Word you don’t have to do the above conversion. At any place in the text you can enter the hex code 2020 at any place in the text and then immediately click Alt C -: the cross appears.

Why 0134 and not 134?

The input via the Alt-key without the preceding zero already existed at the birth of the IBM-PC. Then as now you can use it to enter the DOS character set. The upper half of the character set (127..255) was equipped with a hodgepodge of characters; "from every village a dog", you could say. The range of control characters 1…31 was also used on the screen by special characters:

And this is still the case today. If you type: Alt 1, you get the smiley ☺.

With Windows came a new 8-bit character set. In order to be able to enter also this character set completely over the keyboard, one invented the prefixed zero. With a number 128…255 with the prefix "0" one reaches the so-called "Latin-1 Supplement", with which one could represent a certain part of the European languages and without "0" the classical DOS code from the early time of the PC.

Who can do something with the following code?

If you look at this code in the hex representation, you can see that these are the characters 1 to 32, which the program Notepad++ represents with the abbreviations for the control codes. These characters were entered with Alt 01…

In the drawing area 1..31, no more smilies are generated with the zero in front, but the control characters defined there. One may now wonder why the control characters are wrapped in two places. After BS comes the character 9 TAB and this is executed in Notepad++, so you don’t see it. However, if you turn on the display of invisible characters, the display changes:

The tabulator becomes visible, as does the following line feed (LF Line Feed) and also the carriage return at position 13 (CR Carriage Return).

DOS and Latin-1

On the left you can see the code table for the "CodePage 850 DOS" and on the right the "Codepage 1250 Windows Central Europe". There are many other variants of these sites.

In this representation the control characters are entered in the left DOS part for the characters 1…31. If you had sent these characters to your screen back then, you would have seen these codes instead: ☺☻♥♦♣♠-◘○◙♂♀♪♫☼►◄↕‼¶§▬↨↑↓→←∟↔▲▼

These characters still exist, but no longer at this code position. They are now spread over different pages of the Unicode. If one therefore enters an Alt 1, one sees like at the beginning of the PC a smiley symbol ☺ but in the document the character U+263a = 9786 = ☺ is ent.

The big sharp s

This letter "big sharp s" has been created for reasons of correct convertibility of capitalized words. For example, if you write "soccer" and convert it to capital letters, it became "FOOTBALL" in the past for lack of a "capital sharp s". But programs have their difficulties to know if the capital SS should become an ss after conversion to lowercase, or if it should be converted back to an b after all.

This new letter is easy to find on our keyboard:

Therefore, in the future, or at the latest from now on, write "soccer" in capital letters as "FUbBALL" .

Of course, both the b and the new b can be reached via Alt input:

Now you can still puzzle why both Alt 0223 and Alt 225 make the same letter b. The reason is that the b was already included in the DOS character set and has not disappeared from this place for compatibility reasons (Alt 225) . But it is also present in the Windows character set and there at the position Alt 0223 . This privilege does not have "the big sharp s" b.

There are programs to permanently change the keyboard layout. For example, the "Microsoft Layout Creator" is such a program. However, I have not been able to get the program to do what it is supposed to do. It behaves as the instructions say, but the last test is negative, the keys are not defined as desired. Perhaps someone has experience with the program. Finally, there is also the option to remap the keys directly in the registry.

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