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Typing an ellipsis and other exotic characters in KDE/Kubuntu

Submitted by Druss on Wed, 2015-02-18 20:11

I can sometimes be rather picky (some would say 'anal') when I write, for example, an e-mail. I get annoyed if I have to resort to typing three periods for an ellipsis rather than achieving it with just the one character. Doing something with one character instead of three is also a skill that has carved itself a niche in this age of Twitter. So how would one go about it?

In Windows, I was able to do this by typing the ASCII code using Alt+0, 1,3, 3 with the digits being typed using the numeric keypad. If you remember the ASCII code for any character, you can type it using this trick. Some codes that I remember well are those for the em and en dashes (0150 and 0151).

Linux however has always been too cool for school. It doesn't support the ASCII trick. Instead it supports unicode which means that you can type just about any character you can think of as long as you remember its unicode … code. This is, of course, far better than the ASCII trick which only has 255 characters in its entire set. But this means that not only do you have to remember the ASCII code (for when you are in Windows) and the unicode for when you are in KDE, the unicode is also a li'l longer and more complicated to enter. For example, typing the ellipsis in Linux would involve Ctrl+Shift+u,2, 0, 2,6 followed by a Space or Enter. More than a handful, but not too complicated once you get used to it.

But surely Linux, that king of customisability, would offer a neater solution. In fact, it offers a plethora of solutions. None of them are, unfortunately, neat, with the exception of one, the Compose key. The KDE docs show how the compose key can be configured in your version of KDE/Kubuntu. In my case (Kubuntu 14.10),

  1. I opened Input Devices in System Settings, chose Keyboard on the left, the Advanced tab on the right.
  2. I enabled the Configure keyboard options checkbox at the top of the page and then scrolled down to the section titled Position of Compose key.
  3. Within this section, I chose to nominate my keyboard's Right Win key as the compose key and pressed Apply.

Now all I have to do to type an ellipsis is to press Right Win+., . which results in an …! Ain't that simply neat? No more remembering dodgy codes! Similarly, an em dash can be typed using Right Win+-, -, - while the en dash would require Right Win+-, -, .. While I still have to remember each combination, it's, IMHO, rather intuitive.

A list of these key combinations can be found here. Not all of them work for me, but the ones that I want, do.

I'll try to update this article soon with the working combinations.