Emacs Characters 3

I never thought I would write three posts about entering characters in Emacs.

Emacs Characters demonstrates the quickest way to insert characters such as è and ä by using the C-x 8 key combination. So, for example:

C-x 8 ' e prints é
C-x 8 `e prints è
C-x 8 ^ e prints ê
C-x 8 " u prints ü
C-x 8 / / prints ÷
C-x 8 C prints © copyright

Emacs Characters 2 shows how C-x 8 [return] allows you to type in the description of a character, so C-x 8 [return] LEFT ARROW gives ←

It’s time for another way. This post demonstrates toggle-input-method. Emacs has a number of input methods, used for entering such things as Arabic characters. You can see the full list using

 M-x list-input-methods 

Use C-\ to enable the input method. The first time you do this you’ll be prompted for a method. For the purposes of this post, enter TeX. If you don’t know TeX, this post gives you a flavour.

You can now enter characters using TeX. Here are some examples

\pir^2 → πr²
Z\"urich → Zürich
Caf\'e  → café

I used \rightarrow to get the → used above, by the way.

When you’re done using TeX, use C-\ to disable the current input method

That’s three different methods for entering text. Which one is best? For me, it’s whichever is the most convenient. If I want to type the acute accent in café I’d probably use C-x 8 ‘e. When I was writing my novel Dream Paris I used TeX input for typing in the French dialogue.

As this is the Emacs workout, why not think of the ways you could type the following in Emacs?

Einstein wrote E=mc² on the table whilst eating a rösti in a café in Zürich. As easy as πr², he thought.

If you get stuck

M-x describe-input-method 

will give a list of key sequences.


  1. Roy says:

    I went to pages on my iPad and keyed in C-x 8 e ‘ (return)
    Result no e grave or acute.
    What am I missing?


    1. admin says:

      Hi Roy

      The above only works on Emacs. I seem to remember if you hold down then letter on an iPad it will give you alternatives such as e acute.



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