Unicode characters

Have you ever seen Twitter updates/ tweets with unusual characters included in them? Perhaps you have received an email message with an airplane in the subject line? Have you wondered how thus was done? Yes, these capabilities have been around for some time. However, I have been asked recently by several individuals how this is possible. Hence this weblog post.

These are Unicode characters. If you are curious, there is a complete list (and a lot of technical information) at Unicode.org. If you are using a tool like MS-Word and insert a symbol, you see a dialog like the following:

Insert symbol dialog in MS Word

You may need to click on the image to enlarge it. You will note that we see a character code 00A9 from Unicode just above the insert button above. If you have some symbols in your Word document, you can position your cursor immediately after the symbol and hit Alt-x on the keyboard to toggle between the Unicode value and the displayed symbol. Yes, you can then copy these symbols and paste them into your tweet.

An alternate approach is to use a tool like TwitterKeys to include common Unicode symbols. They even created a bookmarklet so you can update your browser bookmarks and use as needed. a screen capture is shown below for your reference.

Twitter keys

Ok, now you know how to include these symbols. The bigger question is – do they help? For example, do you pay more attention to a tweet containing a special symbol? What about an email with a special symbol in the subject line? I am interested in your comments (I just have to approve them as a lot of spammers try to push their useless information on this site).

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