A sure sign of a professional publication is the use of appropriate special characters in the text of your project. From copyright and trademarks symbols to appropriate money symbols and even the degree symbol for temperature, each of these can be easily created thanks to your word processing application. You just need to know where to find them.
In Microsoft Word, look for the Insert > Symbol command. This will open a pane showing you several collections of symbols that can be selected and inserted in your document. In Apple’s Pages for Mac it’s the Edit > Special Characters command. The displayed characters pane allows you to browse the various categories of symbols and, once a symbol is selected, view it in the font you are using. This is very handy since a growing number of fonts don’t include many special characters.
If you find you are regularly using certain symbols, take advantage of your word processor’s auto-correct feature (in spell-checking) to set up an easy-to-type abbreviation which will be replaced with the symbol. For example, many spell-checkers are already set up to replace (c) with © or 1/2 with ½ so all you have to do is follow their example to add your own.
Bloggers and web publishers have their own set of special character codes for including symbols in web content. You’ll find a great chart for these codes at the Web Design Group. WordPress users can access a special characters panel from the editing toolbar.
Yes, it takes a bit more effort to include special characters and symbols in your publishing project, but it shows that you are serious about your work. Your readers probably won’t notice that you’ve made the effort to present a professional publication, but they will surely notice when you haven’t.