ASCII Keystroke Table — below the graphic is the explanation for what this is. It shows you how to add characters you normally cannot access by typing. It just takes a special keystroke [if available]. In InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, you can just use the Glyphs panel.

ASCII Keystroke Table

ASCII Keystroke Table for special characters

7-bit ASCII: the PC limitation

When Bill (Gates) and the crew designed DOS, they knew nothing about typesetting. As a result, they were very pleased to offer 7-bit ASCII. ASCII is just an acronym for a regulating group setting a standard numbering order for letter characters, but the key here is 7-bit. Remembering your digital code, 7-bit is 128 choices. So, with 7-bit ASCII, PCs had 128 characters. Good, you say. That is much more than the 88 found on a typewriter. And, in fact, these machines were used only as glorified typewriters. In truth, there wasn’t much glory there, but that’s another story.

8-bit ASCII: the Mac limitation

When the Mac came out, it supported 8-bit ASCII. We Macophiles have used this for years to lord it over our poor restricted buddies using PCs. However, even the 256 characters of 8-bit ASCII do not even come close to what is needed for typesetting. It does enable us to set type professionally in most European languages—sorta.


8-bit ASCII is essential for desktop publishing—both print and ebook. Without all 256 characters, there are many things that are a real pain. There are many special characters that you will need to use all the time.

As a PC user, you will run into that pain very quickly. On a PC, these characters are called upper ASCII characters and are only available by holding down the Alt key and typing four numbers on the numerical keypad. The chart on the next page shows all 128 upper-ASCII characters. Those from 129 and up require the Alt+four-number routine. The number is in the gray bar to the right of the character the character.