Enter Unicode Characters from the Keyboard

📅 March 29, 2016
uni11Unicode is convenient for inserting special characters into text files. Did you know that Linux provides an easy way to add them to your text compositions?





In this example, we will use Linux Mint 17.3 and gedit. Start with an empty document.

Blank gedit. Any text editor with work.

Blank gedit. Any text editor will work.

Step 1

At the cursor, press the Shift + Ctrl + u key combination, and you will see a lowercase, underlined u. This indicates that you can now enter a Unicode character by entering its code.


Shift + Ctrl + u switches to Unicode entry mode. An underlined u appears.

Step 2

Enter the code of the character you wish to display. In this case, we want a black star, which is Unicode code 2605. Enter 2605.


u2605 is the Unicode entry for a black star.

Step 3

Press the Enter key. The corresponding character should appear if it is supported by the current font.


The u2605 disappears and is replaced by the given character – a black star in this example.

You can insert Unicode symbols anywhere in your text. Simply enter the Shift + Ctrl + u key combination at the point where you need the Unicode character.


We are going to put an arrow between A and B. After the A, enter Shift + Ctrl + u to signal Unicode entry mode.


The arrow we want is 2192.


Press Enter to register the Unicode arrow, which then appears, and finish typing.

“How do I know which Unicode codes to use?”

Unicode has a vast number of characters, so the only way to find a certain character’s code (besides memorization) is to consult an online Unicode chart and look it up.

Two good web sites listing Unicode characters and their codes are http://unicode-table.com/en/ and http://www.fileformat.info.


unicode-table.com/en/ provides lists of Unicode symbols and their codes.


http://www.fileformat.info provides a list of all supported codes in various programming languages. Shown here is the Skull and Crossbones character.

Note that when you enter a Unicode code from the keyboard as shown above you are entering the hexadecimal value, which is denoted by U+2605 in the Unicode page listings.

For example, Unicode provides a set of arrows. In the previous example, we locate the arrow we wish to use and find out that it is a Rightwards Arrow and its Unicode value is U+2192. We press Shift + Ctrl + u and enter 2192.


The Rightwards Arrow has the Unicode value U+2192. We enter 2192 to make it appear.

Suppose we want to use the Skull and Crossbones character. Its Unicode value is U+2620.


Inserting a skull and crossbones symbol with the word DANGER. If the listing shows that its value is U+2620 (hexadecimal), we enter Shift + Ctrl + u and then type 2620. Press Enter.


Completed warning sign.

Keep in mind that your current font must support the character you wish to display. Not all fonts support all Unicode characters, and this can vary across operating systems.

Linux has superb Unicode support, so this should not be much of an issue in Linux systems for most of the standard fonts.

Also note that this technique is not limited to a text editor. You can enter Unicode values at the command line, a browser search box (this can produce some interesting results!), or wherever text can be entered.

Have fun!




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