Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Changing Characters on Keyboard Keys.

Changing Characters on Keyboard Keys

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 23, 2011)

Robert would like to reassign keyboard keys to be more efficient for his needs. For example, he would like to reassign the {braces} keys to return a section mark and a pilcrow (paragraph mark), respectively. These are used extensively in his law firm, and having them accessible from the keyboard would be wonderful. There are a couple of other keys that Robert would like to reassign, as well, so he wonders how he can go about making the reassignments.

There are a couple of ways you can go about this, depending on whether you want the change to be available only in Word or whether you want it available in other programs, as well. Let's start with the scenario where you want the change only in Word.

Word provides a couple of tools that may be helpful. For instance, the AutoCorrect feature is used to automatically change something you typed into something you should have typed. (In other words, it automatically corrects what you type.) You could, if desired, create an AutoCorrect entry that will change the brace characters into the desired characters. The problem is that AutoCorrect is only triggered if you press a space after the thing that needs to be changed. Thus, if you had an AutoCorrect entry that changed the left brace to a section mark, then it would only be triggered if you pressed the left brace followed by a space. If you wanted the section mark followed immediately by a number, then typing {17 would not result in a correction to the desired section mark—Word would leave it unchanged.

The other tool that would be more helpful in this instance is the ability to assign shortcut keys to special characters. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose Symbol from the Insert menu. Word displays the Symbol dialog box.
  2. Locate and click once on the section mark.
  3. Click on the Shortcut Key button. Word displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  5. Click once in the Press New Shortcut Key box.
  6. Press either Alt+{ or Ctrl+{, depending on which shortcut you want to use to insert the section mark.
  7. Click on Assign.
  8. Close the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  9. In the Symbol dialog box, locate and click once on the pilcrow symbol.
  10. Click on the Shortcut Key button. Word again displays the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  11. Click once in the Press New Shortcut Key box.
  12. Press either Alt+} or Ctrl+}, depending on which shortcut you want to use to insert the section mark.
  13. Click on Assign.
  14. Close the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  15. Close the Symbol dialog box.

Now you can use the shortcut keys you created in order to insert the desired symbols. Of course, if you didn't want to create the special shortcut keys (perhaps they are already assigned to some other purpose on your system), you can always enter the symbols by holding down the Alt key and pressing 20 (pilcrow) or 21 (section mark) on the numeric keypad.

Outside of Word there are any number of keyboard remapping utilities you can install on your system. Some are free and cost money. Even Microsoft has one call the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator, which you can find here:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/goglobal/bb964665.aspx

Third-party programs in this category abound; here are a few:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2704,1163302,00.asp
http://www.autohotkey.com
http://www.virtual-keyboard.com/
http://www.tethyssolutions.com/macro-automation.htm

You can locate a plethora of other such utilities if you do a search for the phrase "remap keyboard" or "map keyboard".

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10303) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Changing Characters on Keyboard Keys.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Splitting a Table

Table getting too long? Need to move part of a table to somewhere else in your document? You can easily split an existing ...

Discover More

Hyphenating Your Document

One of the final touches you can add to a document is to hyphenate it. This allows text to flow more smoothly from line to ...

Discover More

Setting Print Titles

Excel allows you to specify certain rows or columns that will be repeated on the pages of a printout. Here's how to set those ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Applying Numbers from the Keyboard

Creating a numbered list is often done by using tools on the toolbars or the ribbon. With a bit of preparation you can create ...

Discover More

Potential Shortcut Key Problems

When configuring Word so that it matches your preference in shortcut keys, you need to be careful about what shortcut keys ...

Discover More

Resetting All Shortcut Keys

At some point you might want to wipe out all the custom shortcut keys you've created in Word. This is easy to do by following ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is two minus 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.