Insert Special Characters in Google Docs

Now and then you need to include in your document a character that’s not directly available from your keyboard; a mathematical symbol, perhaps, or a foreign-language letter or symbol.

Google Docs has a handy tool to let you locate and insert such characters. By using Insert > Special characters… from the menu:

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Click image to enlarge

You open up the Insert special characters dialog: 

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Click image to enlarge

In this dialog the dropdown boxes let you select from many options and types of character. Clicking on any character in the displayed grid will insert the character at the cursor position in your document.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, but know roughly how the symbol appears, try making a rough drawing of it in the right-hand pane, holding down the left mouse button:

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Click image to enlarge

Drive will present you with all the available characters that it believes are close to what you drew: 

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Click image to enlarge

Again, clicking on a symbol inserts it at the cursor position:

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Click image to enlarge

Also provided is the Search by keyword box. You can ask for sets of symbols using keywords such as arrow or circle, but this search box is also useful when you want to approximate to a letter on your keyboard – e.g. to add a particular form of foreign-language accent. Look what happens when I simply enter the letter n in the box: 

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Click image to enlarge