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Community Member

Can students type foreign language characters when taking a quiz?

I teach French and want students to answer fill-in-the-blank and essay questions on quizzes in Canvas, but I don't know of any way for them to type letters with French diacritics (such as acute, grave, and circumflex accents) in Canvas. Is this possible, or do I simply have to give up on using such questions or, if I do use them, give up on expecting students to use proper diacritics?

17 Replies
Community Member

I have a related question: I was trying to ask a "fill in the gap" kind of question but Canvas would not recognize any Umlaute (German characters).

Actually, it works


I  have no problem creating a question with any letters umlaute, even it is in French


Of course, you can always share these shortcut with them to do keyboard input

Alt - 0192 À - a grave
Alt - 0224 à - a grave
Alt - 0194 Â - a circumflex
Alt - 0226 â - a circumflex
Alt - 0196 Ä - a umlaut
Alt - 0228 ä - a umlaut
Alt - 0200 È - e grave
Alt - 0232 è - e grave
Alt - 0201 É - e acute
Alt - 0233 é - e acute
Alt - 0202 Ê - e circumflex
Alt - 0234 ê - e circumflex
Alt - 0203 Ë - e umlaut
Alt - 0235 ë - e umlaut
Alt - 0206 Î - I circumflex
Alt - 0238 î - i circumflex
Alt - 0207 Ï - I umlaut
Alt - 0239 ï - i umlaut
Alt - 0212 Ô - O circumflex
Alt - 0244 ô - o circumflex
Alt - 0140 Œ
Alt - 0156 œ
Alt - 0217 Ù - U grave
Alt - 0249 ù - u grave
Alt - 0219 Û - U circumflex
Alt - 0251 û - u circumflex
Alt - 0220 Ü - U umlaut
Alt - 0252 ü - u umlaut
Alt - 0159 Ÿ
Alt - 0255 ÿ - y umlaut
Alt - 0199 Ç - c cedilla
Alt - 0231 ç - c cedila
Alt - 0171 «
Alt - 0187 »
Alt - 0128 €

For Mac users holding down option key. 

Or, if you insist, you can have them to turn on a virtual keyboard for French input, which will not be too user friendly to English typers.

Unfortunately, many laptops, including my own, no longer include numerical keys, so the codes aren't an option. I did discover a handy piece of software for Windows machines, called AX, that seems to have solved the problem: Universal single-key accenting for Windows and Javascript . Still, I think it's a real weakness of Canvas that no option exists within it for producing characters that are essential in so many foreign language classes.

Community Member

I agree with Tom Klinger that it is a weakness of Canvas to not have that option

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Hey  @klingler !  Many computers and mobile devices have onscreen keyboards that you can easily add that offer the ability to type various characters and accents.  Normally you can switch between the normal keyboard and the alternate keyboards fairly easy.  This would be more of a student initiated process at the suggestion of the teacher.  While it might be easier to "just have something" in Canvas, at least there is the possibility for anyone to be able to use the various keyboards on their own devices.

Hi Ryan! Thanks for this advice. I'm aware of the existence of such keyboards, and they might be a viable solution. But in my experience (which dates quite a bit--I haven't tried such keyboards in many years) they are a bit unwieldy if all you want to do is type an occasional character now and then, and I wonder how viable that solution would be in the context of an exam ("Quiz") in Canvas when students are under time pressure. I also wonder if they would be able to have access to the onscreen keyboard if Lockdown Browser is being used.

Community Member

The best I've been able to come up with via a colleague was to create an 'accent chart' placed above activities for students to 'cut and paste'. Would love to see accents used in Canvas. Such a monolingual deficit! 


You can always have students enter in a different language keyboard onto their computer. You can do this for any program run on Windows (I don't know to get this to work for a Mac) I have done this with several different machines and I am able to type in Spanish characters with no problem. You just need to learn the layout of the keyboard. Here is a link that shows how to add a myriad of different language keyboards: