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Inserting symbols and special characters

Often in legal documents, you need to insert special characters not found on the keyboard, like paragraph symbols (¶) or section symbols (§).  Here’s how to do that:

  • Go to Insert, Symbol.
  • Find the symbol you need to insert, and click Insert.

Word 2002/2003

And there’s your symbol.

But, hey, if you’ve got to do this repeatedly, it gets old, right?  Here’s another trick: you can assign that symbol to a keyboard shortcut you can use while typing.

Word 2002/2003:

Word 2007/2010:

Pick a key combination (say, ALT-P) and press it.  If Word already has it assigned to another function, it will tell you.  If that prior function isn’t something you want to use a hot-key for, you can override that and re-assign this symbol to that key.  Or, you can pick another key combination (CNTL-SHIFT-P, for example).

Once you have the right hot-key assigned, click Assign, then Close, then Close again when you reach the Symbol dialog box.  From now on, you can use your hot-key to insert the symbol in your documents without going through the menu system to do it!

by Deborah Savadra

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

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  1. This is very well done. The instructions are easy to read and follow; use of space, design and color of the webpage are pleasing. -Thanks

    my 3rd choice with your 5th place hit in Google search: “word 2007 special characters legal”, beating out “” and “” for best answer and bookmark status.

    1. Wow — thanks! I really appreciate the compliment, and I especially appreciate your letting me know how you got here! I’m glad I could be of some help. If there are specific topics you’d like to see covered, by all means, drop me a line via the “Ask the Guru” page (