A character map is a specific typeface editing feature included with the Microsoft® Windows® computer operating system. It allows users to insert various characters that differ from the standard alphabet into bodies of text. These include special characters such as copyright symbols, mathematical symbols, currency signs, Greek letters and Chinese language characters. With the character map, users can change the font of all these symbols to any font type that is included with compatible programs. A trick to quickly previewing these fonts is highlighting the current name in the map's font box and either scrolling down with the mouse wheel or pressing the up and down arrow keys.
A unicode character map groups specific symbols together according to a set of standards used to identify them across a spectrum of different languages. The International Standards Organization (ISO) is the governing body responsible for setting, maintaining, and updating these standards. A character map allows one to search for special characters either by name or by unicode grouping. A search by unicode grouping is accomplished through selecting different options under the advanced view of the character map organizer.
As a supplement to the Windows® version of a character map, users who need to insert more complex characters into certain projects can use an online character map. Creating web content with hypertext markup language (HTML) sometimes requires the use of a graphic organizer that already has copy-and-paste symbols encoded with the proper HTML formatting. This online resource can save time that would otherwise be devoted to referencing and coding each special character by hand.
It is possible to create custom characters by using a private character editor. This is a tool that can be accessed only in some newer operating systems. The private character editor does not have its own shortcut; it can only be opened by typing the word "eudcedit" into the Run box under the Start menu. After choosing a pre-defined ISO numerical code for the font type, users can draw, edit and save their own unique characters in the editor palette.