The Old Alt + X trick

How to quickly insert symbols in Word without taking your fingers off the keyboard.

Inserting Symbols into Word documents is a pain, go up to the ribbon Insert | Symbols | Symbol at the very least … or you can use a trick from the 20th century to keep your fingers on the keyboard.

Type in the hexadecimal Unicode value of the symbol you want, then press Alt + X – the value will be changed to the Symbol automatically.


  • The leading zeroes aren’t necessary – 00A5 and A5 both work to make the Yen symbol.

  • Case doesn’t matter – a9 and A9 both work to make the Copyright symbol.

  • Make a mistake? – as always, Undo is your friend – Ctrl + Z

No one expects you to remember all the hex codes, after all there are over 40,000 of them in Unicode. Just remember the ones you need to most.

The British Pound Sterling symbol £ isn’t on a lot of keyboards even in the former colonies but if you need it, just type A3 then Alt + X.

Here’s a few common Alt + X shortcuts plus others we are often asked about with their shortcuts that are baked into Office itself. image from The Old Alt + X trick at

Another option is to make an AutoCorrect shortcut but that requires setup on each computer you use.  Learning the Alt + X shortcuts you need will work on any copy of Microsoft Office without any setup or configuration.