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What’s that Numeric Keypad For?

Ever wonder where the cents sign (¢) went? Or how to make a division sign (÷)? And just what those numbers on the right side of your keyboard are for anyway?

Today, AuthorHouse Author’s Digest will take a moment to discuss the numeric keypad present on most modern keyboards. That’s the set of 17 keys on the far right side, marked as numerals, directional arrows, and commands like “Home,” “PgUp,” etc.

First things first. To access the numeric functions on the keypad, you must first push the “Num Lock” button on the top left of the numeric keypad. Unlike the main part of the keyboard, simply pushing “Shift” won’t work. Once you’ve pushed “Num Lock” (typically confirmed by one of the keyboard lights), pushing the buttons will result in the indicated numbers, instead of the directional arrows or other commands.

But aren’t there already numbers on the keyboard, near the top? Why a separate numeric keypad? The reason is that people who enter numbers frequently can do so much faster on a numeric keypad (which is organized like an old-fashioned adding machine.)

And what about the question that started this article? That elusive cents sign? Well, for Windows users, that’s an additional function of the numeric keypad. When the “Num Lock” button has been pushed, holding down the “Alt” key while entering a numeric code will produce a wide variety of signs and symbols.

For example, if you want to make the cents sign:

1. Push down “Num Lock”

2. Hold down the “Alt” button

3. While the “Alt” button is depressed, enter the number 0162 on the numeric keypad.

Ta-daa! The cents sign (¢)!

And the division sign? Make sure “Num Lock” has been pushed, hold down “Alt,” and enter 0247.

There is a wide variety of symbols that can be made via this method, from currency and math symbols, to foreign accent marks, and a whole lot more. For a complete list, search for “Windows Alt Key Codes” online—there’s no shortage of comprehensive resources available.

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