"So there are Oliphaunts. But no one at home will ever believe me."
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A chordingly

A little fun fact: on the Mac you can type alternate characters using by holding down the option key while pressing the letter (the use of two or more keys in tandem to send input to the computer is known as a chord—the most common ones obviously being uppercase characters).

Some of my favorites:

  • The em dash—for making asides—is longer than a plain hyphen: opt + SHIFT + -
  • The ellipsis, dot dot dot… can be typed as a single character… opt + ;
  • Degree sign, opt + 0 (that’s the number zero, as in 0º, not a capital o).

Of course there are many other useful ones, such as currency symbols.

Some characters need accent marks. You enter these with a combination of chords. If you enter option + e, your cursor turns into a highlight with the acute accent (´). If the next character you type can take an accent, it will be printed with the accent: á é í ó ú. If it can’t be accented, you’ll just get a the accent all by itself, plus the new character (as above inside parenthesis.

Some combinations I figured out by playing around:

  • Acute ´: opt + e
  • Umlaut ¨: opt + u
  • Circumflex ˆ: opt + i

Finally, there are the ligatures we should see more often: œ and æ. They’re in there, but hiding.