Learn to Type Grave Accent Marks on Any Keyboard, Mac or PC

Voilà: learn how and when to use the grave accent

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The grave accent mark is seldom used in English writing, but when you encounter it, thank the French for giving us words such as vis-à-vis, voilà, and pièce de resistance. A grave accent mark slants from left to right and appears over certain vowels in many languages, often to indicate a stressed vowel. In English, grave accent marks are used with the following uppercase and lowercase vowels: À, à, È, è, Ì, ì, Ò, ò, Ù, and ù. You can render a grave mark accent in a number of different manners on your keyboard, depending on your platform.

Typing a Grave Accent on a Mac

There are several ways to type a grave accent on a Mac keyboard.

  • Accent menu: On the keyboard of a Mac computer, hold the letter you want to use with an accent for a few seconds until a small accent menu pops up with different accent options for the letter. Each of the options has a number under it that corresponds to a number key. Press the number on the keyboard that appears under the character with the grave accent or click on the mark or its number in the accent menu using your mouse.
Mac accent menu
Mac accent menu.  Lynn McAlpine
  • Keystroke combination: A Mac keyboard has a grave key meant to be used in combination with a vowel. Hold down the Option key and the grave key, which is located on the same key as the tilde (~), at the same time. Release both keys and immediately type the letter to be accented to create lowercase characters with grave accent marks. For the uppercase version of the character, press the Shift key after you release the Option and grave keys and before you type the letter to be accented. 
  • Emoji & Symbols menu: You can also generate a grave and other diacritical marks using the Mac's Emoji & Symbols menu located under Edit in the menu bar. Type grave in the Emoji & Symbols search bar and select the character with a grave accent to view an expanded selection of characters with grave accents.

Grave Accent in Windows

If you have a numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard, use it to produce grave accents with four-digit number codes. Press Num Lock at the top of the keyboard to turn it on. Hold down the Alt key while typing the appropriate four-digit number code on the numeric keypad to create characters with grave accent marks. For Windows, the number codes for the uppercase letters are:

  • Alt + 0192 = À
  • Alt + 0200 = È 
  • Alt + 0204 = Ì 
  • Alt + 0210 = Ò 
  • Alt + 0217 = Ù 

For Windows, the number codes for the lowercase letters are:

  • Alt + 0224 = à 
  • Alt + 0232 = è 
  • Alt + 0236 = ì 
  • Alt + 0242 = ò 
  • Alt + 0249 = ù 

The numeric keypad is a 17-key keypad usually found on the far right side of a standard PC keyboard. It can also be a separate device that connects to the computer. Press the Num Lock key to enable or disable the numeric keypad.

If you don't have a numeric keypad, this method doesn't work, but you can copy and paste accented characters from the Character Map instead. In Windows 10, locate the Character Map by clicking Start > All Programs Accessories > System Tools > Character Map. You can also type map in the search box on the taskbar and select Character Map from the list of search results.

Grave Accent in HTML

To use a grave accent mark on a website, you insert the mark in the HTML by typing the & (ampersand symbol) followed by the letter (A, E, I, O, or U), the word grave, then ; (semicolon) without any spaces between them. For example, typing à inserts an à in the HTML.

Grave on iOS and Android Mobile Devices

Using the virtual keyboard on your iOS or Android mobile device, you can access special characters with accent marks, including the grave. Position the cursor in any app that supports the text. Press and hold the A, E, I, O, or U key on the virtual keyboard to open a window with various accented options for that letter. Slide your finger to the character with a grave, then lift your finger to select it and insert it where the cursor is positioned.

Tips for Working With Grave Accents

  • In HTML, some characters with grave accent marks may appear smaller than surrounding text. In this case, enlarge the font for only those characters as needed.
  • In Windows, don't use the numbers located at the top of the keyboard to insert characters with accents. Use the numeric keypad and be sure Num Lock is turned on.
  • Some programs may have special keystrokes or menu options for creating diacriticals such as grave accent marks. See the application manual or help files if the general keystroke instructions presented here don't work for typing grave accent marks in an app or program.

Other Diacritical Marks

Other diacritical marks are accessed in a manner similar to typing a grave accent. The acute accent (á); the cedilla, which is attached to the bottom of a letter such as in the word façade; the circumflex accent (ˆ); and the umlaut, which consists of two dots above a letter, such as in coöperate; are available through keyboards. The tilde (~) has its own key on most keyboards.