How to Find and Type the Right Character


I have an obsessive-compulsive trait that compels me to use exactly the right character when I write. Why type “Gerard” when the correct spelling is “Gérard”? Why write “39 degrees” or “aleph null” when the proper way is “39°” or “ℵ0”? Why write:  

(x+a)^n=∑_(k=0)^n〖(n¦k) x^k a^(n−k) 〗 

when it should be written as:  

People like me who have this trait must find and type exactly the right character. Since I, like many of you, use both Mac and Windows (via Parallels® Desktop), my efforts often require some extra steps when OS barriers are crossed. Luckily for me, there are utilities on the Mac and on Windows which often, but not always, make all these tasks much easier.  

Finding the right character on the Mac 

Here are the tools I use:  

Finding the right character on Windows 

Here are the tools I have used:  

For more on this, scroll down to the “What I Do” section below. 

Type the right character 

Once you find it, you have to type it, but almost all tools for finding also have built-in functionality for entering the character in your document. This might be as simplistic as copying the character to the clipboard and then pasting it, but some tools will actually insert the character at the current text insertion point in your document. 

What I do 

I author documents on both Mac and Windows, but when it comes to inserting exactly the right character into a document, the Mac utilities are far superior and easier to use. So, even when I am writing in a Windows app, I will use the Mac utilities to find and type a character, then I use the copy & paste support in Parallels Desktop to get that character into my Windows document. Having both the macOS and Windows running at the same time in Parallels makes this approach fast and simple. 

I hope this post helps those with the same obsessive-compulsive trait get exactly the right character. If you have another approach or use a utility that I haven’t mentioned, please let me know in the comments! 

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