I'm using Ubuntu 12.04[1] with a Dvorak keyboard layout. I need to write a bunch of emails in Spanish on a daily basis and I really really need a keyboard shortcut to the inverted question mark glyph (¿), but I just can't find any. So far I've been either copying and pasting it from the character map (which is, seriously, a pain in the ass) or just not bothering with it (which I tend to avoid because it makes me look sloppy). Is there a way of defining a key combination (e.g., Ctrl + Shift + ?) that inputs this character?

[1] Yes, yes, I know it's 2014 and all that. I'm happy with 12.04 and I don't see the need to upgrade just because, so please don't tell me to.


Press CTRL+SHIFT while keeping them pressed, press and release U then type in 00BF, release CTRL+SHIFT, then you will have your ¿.


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set your keyboard layout to ES

setxkbmap es

to see places of characters on keyboard, run onboard


I hope it helps you.

to revert your keyboard layout run

setxkbmap us

One possible solution is to customise your keyboard layout to your needs.

The standard keyboard layout files are found in /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols.

Step-by-step procedure

  1. Identify the keyboard layout you are using. Make a backup of it: sudo cp /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/?? ??.bak. Change the ?? to the file you're using.
  2. Make a copy of the file in your home folder.
  3. Open it with Gedit or any text editor you wish.
  4. Modify it by adding the necessary character in a key of your choice and save it. Each key definition will have four values (normal press, with shift, with AltGr, with AltGr + Shift).
  5. Now copy the file to /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols overwriting the original. Open a terminal and type sudo cp ?? /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols.
  6. Set permissions of the file to match the original: sudo chmod 644 /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/??
  7. This step might be necessary: sudo rm /var/lib/xkb/*.xkm.
  8. Logout and login again.

Press hold Alt + numpad 168. Press hold Alt + numpad 168.

  • That did not work for me. Have you tried it? – Mitch Jul 26 '14 at 10:21
  • Yes. But I think there is something else for Ubuntu 12.04 – Dishank Jindal Jul 26 '14 at 10:23
  • I tried in writer, and gedit under 12.04, and it didn't work. – Mitch Jul 26 '14 at 10:25
  • Yours also not working. – Dishank Jindal Jul 26 '14 at 10:28
  • look at the addition in my answer. – Mitch Jul 26 '14 at 10:33

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