Type Characters With Circumflex Accent Marks

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

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.

What Is a Circumflex Accent Mark?

Circumflex accent diacritical marks are used in Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek languages. Since computer users in the U.S. most likely use a Latin alphabet keyboard, the languages and words 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 uppercase and lowercase 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 the 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 and 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, press and hold a vowel while typing to create a character with the circumflex accent mark. A small accent menu appears 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 it in the accent menu to insert a character with a circumflex mark in the text. For the uppercase version of the character, press the Shift key before you type the letter to be accented.

Mac accent menu

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

Windows PCs

On Windows PCs, enable Num Lock on the numeric keypad to the right side of the keyboard. Press and hold 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, doesn't work for numeric codes.

Numeric codes for uppercase circumflex accent marks:

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

Numeric codes for lowercase circumflex accent marks:

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

Use the Character Map

If you do not have a numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard, paste accented characters from the Character Map. This built-in Windows utility offers additional characters for every typeface installed on your computer. To access it, use the Windows Search tool to find the phrase character map.

Microsoft Windows character map

HTML

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 the characters, 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 displays options for the key you are pressing. One of those options is the circumflex mark. Slide your finger to the option you want to use.