Type Characters With Circumflex Accent Marks

The circumflex is the "top hat" on French words adopted into English

Circumflex Characters
By Llusiduonbach (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Circumflex accent marks, also called carets, look like little hats over a letter and are found in foreign words that have been adopted into English such as the word château, which means castle.

Circumflex accent diacritical marks are used in Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek languages. Since computers users in the U.S. most likely use a Latin alphabet keyboard, the languages and words most often borrowed into English with circumflex accents come primarily from the French language.

In English, a circumflex accent mark is sometimes retained when its spelling in English is the same as in its original language, such as the word for the French delicacy, crème brûlée.

In the case of the lowercase i, a caret or a circumflex accent mark replaces the dot on the i.

Circumflex accent marks can be found on these upper and lower case vowels: Â, â, Ê, ê, Î, î, Ô, ô, Û, and û.

Different Strokes for Different Platforms

There are several keyboard shortcuts and methods to render a circumflex accent mark on your keyboard depending on your platform. 

Most Mac and Windows keyboards have a caret key – the shift of the 6 key – for inline caret marks, but it cannot be used to accent a letter. The caret is sometimes used in mathematical formulas or in computer programming languages.

Some programs or platforms have special keystrokes for creating diacriticals, including caret marks. See the application manual or search the help guide if the following keystrokes do not work for creating caret marks for you.

Mac Computers

You have a couple of options for generating a circumflex mark on a Mac.

Accent Menu: On a Mac, hold down a vowel while typing to create a character with the circumflex accent mark. A small accent menu pops up with different diacritical accent options, each of which has a number beneath it. Either click the number key – in this case, the 3 – or select the accented version by clicking on it directly in the accent menu to insert a character with a circumflex mark in the test you are typing. For the uppercase version of the character, press the "Shift" key before you type the letter to be accented. 

Mac accent menu
Mac accent menu. Lynn McAlpine 

Emoji & Symbols: The other way to access circumflex marks on a Mac is through the Edit > Emoji & Symbols menu. Open the menu and type "circumflex" in the search bar. Select the accent you want to use in the results window to open variations on the mark. Select one of the variations to use in your text.

Mac Emoji & Symbols menu
Mac Emoji & Symbols menu.  Lynn McAlpine

Windows PCs

On Windows PCs, enable "Num Lock" on the numeric keypad to the right side of your keyboard. Hold down the "Alt" key while typing the appropriate number code on the numeric keypad to create characters with circumflex accent marks.

If you do not have a numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard, these numeric codes will not work. The row of numbers at the top of the keyboard, above the alphabet, do not work for numeric codes.

Numeric codes for upper-case circumflex accent marks:

  • Â = Alt + 0194
  • Ê = Alt + 0202
  • Î = Alt + 0206
  • Ô = Alt + 0212
  • Û = Alt + 0219

Numeric codes for lower-case circumflex accent marks:

  • â = Alt + 0226
  • ê = Alt + 0234
  • î = Alt + 0238
  • ô = Alt + 0244
  • û = Alt + 0251

If you do not have a numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard, you can copy and paste accented characters from the character map. For Windows, locate the character map by clicking Start > All Programs Accessories > System Tools > Character Map. You can also click on Windows and type "character map" in the search box. Select the letter you need and paste it into the document you are working on.

HTML

Computer programmers use HyperText Markup Language (HTML) as the basic computer language to build web pages. HTML is used to create almost every page you see on the web. It describes and defines the content of a web page.

In HTML, render characters with circumflex accent marks by typing the "&"(ampersand symbol), then the letter (e, U, and so on), then "circ," followed by ";" (a semicolon) without any spaces between them, such as:

  • ê = ê
  • Û = Û

IOS and Android Mobile Devices

A long press on any vowel key on your iPhone, iPad or Android mobile phone or tablet keyboard, brings up options for the key you are pressing. One of those options is the circumflex mark. Just slide your finger to the option you want to use.