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9 Hidden Symbols You Never Knew You Could Text

Whether you go for Apple or Android, every grammar nerd will love these tricks that finally perfect your punctuation.

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Em dash

Grammar nerds, quit cringing every time you’re forced to write “–” when you really wanted “—.” Hold down the hyphen key to reveal three more marks: an en dash, em dash, and bullet. Drag your finger to the em dash (or whichever you need), and your correct punctuation appears. Voila! Whether you’re shooting a text or drafting a work email, avoid these punctuation mistakes even smart people make.

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Accent marks

You don’t need to change your keyboard language to access the characters needed to write “résumé” instead of “resume.” Just do a long press on the E key. After a second or so, new options will show up, from È to Ȩ. Same goes for any other accent, tilde, or umlaut you might need; you’ll find all the options under the corresponding letter (or punctuation mark if you want an inverted question mark or exclamation point). Find out why keyboard letters aren’t in alphabetical order.

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Degree sign

When you want to complain about how cold out it is, don’t settle on writing out “ten degrees” when you can condense it to “10°” by holding down an iPhone’s 0 key, which reveals the degree sign. On an Android phone, you can find the symbol by switching to the numeric keyboard, then hitting the secondary Symbols button to bring up more options—including the degree sign. Use other symbols for these emoji hacks that will step up your texting game.

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Money signs

The dollar sign isn’t hard to find, and you might even spot the euro, pound sterling, and yen from the second symbol keyboard on an iPhone. You have even more options than that, though. Long press the dollar sign on an Apple or Android phone and new currency symbols will pop up, including the cent, Philippine peso, and Korean won on an iPhone. (Next, learn 11 tricks you didn’t know your iPhone headphones could do.)

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Sure, you could type in three periods to get your idea across, but Apple has a key specially designed to create an ellipsis. Hold down the period in the symbols keyboard and an ellipses will show up. On an Android, go to the number and symbols keyboard, then hit “=/<” to find the ellipses. Both “shortcuts” take about the same amount of time as hitting the period a few times, but it’s the idea that counts. For some true time savers, check out these 11 computer keyboard shortcuts that make life so much easier.

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You might have already noticed iPhones make URLs easier by adding a period to the alphabet keyboard when you’re in Safari or Chrome, but it gets even better. Holding down the period brings up a list of Web address options, including .com, .net, and .edu. If you’re browsing on your computer, don’t miss these 35 mind-blowing Google tricks you’ll want to try immediately.

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Common symbols

Sure, you could switch to the punctuation screen to find an exclamation point, then pick the one you want before returning to the alphabet keys. If you have an Android, there’s an easier option. Holding down the period key will reveal more symbols, including a question mark and dollar sign, on the main keyboard. (On your computer keyboard, find out what those F1F12 keys really do.)

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Section sign

When you’re in a particularly in-depth text chat about a book, you might need to indicate what section you’re talking about. That § symbol actually is hiding in your phone. Hold down the & sign on an iPhone or the ¶ on an Android to reveal the symbol you’re looking for. Hopefully smartphones add these 12 little-known punctuation marks that convey your meaning perfectly next.

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Much less than sign

If you need the “≪” for programming or a mathematical equation on your iPhone, you won’t find the symbol by the “<” like you might expect. Instead, hold the quotation mark key to bring up the option you need.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.