Microsoft KB Archive/43501

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Excel: CTRL Key Doesn't Yield Alternate Character Set


Several fonts use the CTRL key as a modifier to access alternate characters; for example, CTRL+Q is a cloverleaf in the Chicago font.

In Microsoft Excel versions 2.2, 3.0 and 4.0, the CTRL key is mapped to the COMMAND+OPTION key combination for executing user-defined macros. Therefore, the CTRL key can not be used to access alternate characters.

If the ASCII code of the alternate characters is known, it can be placed in the Excel document using the CHAR() command.


If you have Microsoft Word, the ASCII code of any character can be found by:

  1. Type the character and select it.
  3. Look in the bottom-left corner to see the ASCII number.


For example, do the following to enter the cloverleaf (ASCII 17 in the Chicago font) into a cell:

  1. Type the following into the cell:


  1. Hold down the COMMAND key and press the EQUAL SIGN (=) key (Calculate Now). The formula bar should contain a box.
  2. Press the ENTER key on the numeric keypad so that the text is entered but the same cell remains selected.
  3. From the Options menu, choose Font and click Chicago.
  4. Click OK.

The cell will now show the cloverleaf. A box will show in the formula bar because the formula bar uses the Geneva font, in which ASCII 17 is not defined. Undefined characters are always displayed as a box.

Additional query words: 2.2 2.20 3.0 3.00 4.0 4.00 control

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Last Reviewed: March 12, 1999
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