The purpose of Unicode is to allow letters and other symbols from languages that use characters other than the Latin alphabet. Take Kanji or Hiragana from Japanese, for example. Or accented characters from Lithuanian, Czech, and other languages.

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It is also worth noting that Unicode involves not just letters but symbols and icons as well. 

HTML pages are a series of Unicode characters. Whenever there is a request to read Unicode characters from someone, a network receives the sequence and converts this sequence into bytes.

In other words, every single available character can be given a unique code that is then saved in a document for sharing. 

For example, Alt + 24 is a symbol for ↑ , and Alt + 25 is a symbol for ↓ (you can try the combinations in Google Docs yourself).

As a web designer, you might run into some uncertainties when trying to use Unicode during your work. The purpose of this article is to provide you with 5 ways to use Unicode characters. Some methods are more straightforward than others, and it is up to you to pick the one you prefer.

1 –Symbol Generator

Since the usage of custom symbols, including Unicode characters, is so common, it is to be expected that you can discover tools that let you copy and paste symbols. is an example of such a tool. Click on any symbol you want to appear in the character box and copy them. The Unicode characters are ready to be used.

2 – Keyboard Shortcuts

Memorizing a few symbol shortcuts should not be an issue, but you should not expect to learn every single combination. 

Let’s say that you want to look up a copyright symbol. Open Google or another search engine and type “copyright symbol alt code.” The given results will then show you that on Windows, the © symbol shortcut is Alt + 0169. For the Unicode code point, it is U + 00A9.

And the same applies to other symbols. If there is a symbol, there should be a dedicated shortcut in the Unicode character list. After all, Unicode characters are getting updated constantly.

3 – Character Entity References

Web designers can also insert character entity references in an HTML file if they want to add a symbol. The catch is to find the right symbolic name for the character and put it between an ampersand and a semicolon. 

Here are a few examples:

  • A fraction for ½ in this method would look like this: ½
  • A fraction for ¾ in this method would look like this: ¾

As you can see, both the numerator and denominator have their place in the reference. 

4 – Numeric Character References

Numeric character references are another example of how to use Unicode in web design. Similar to character entity references, numeric characters also require a reference and a few symbols to accommodate the reference. The two symbols are an ampersand and a hashtag.

If we were to use the same copyright example symbol, the numeric character reference method would represent © looking like this – ©

5 – Hexadecimal Character References

Hexadecimal character references and numeric character references are pretty much the same like the name suggests. The difference is minimal. The © in the hexadecimal method is represented by © which, as you can see, is not that different from the numeric character.

Between hexadecimal and numeric, the former is used more commonly. However, note that adding multiple symbols across your code with either of these two methods leaves a lot of room for potential errors.

As such, web designers rely on HTML editors that come with multi-language support. Word processors with UTF-8 character encoding are also a worthwhile option.