I'm trying to put in an email the temperature outside in degrees. On my Mac, the degree symbol (°) is Option+Shift+8. But I'm writing the email in Thunderbird on an Ubuntu 10.10 with the default US English keyboard layout. What key combination do I use to get the degree symbol under X11?

EDIT: Gert successfully answered the question... but, bonus points for any easier to use keystroke than what's in his answer!


Set up a Compose key. On Ubuntu, this is easily done in the keyboard preferences, “Layout” tab, “Options” subdialog. Caps Lock is a good choice as it's pretty much useless (all remotely serious editors have a command to make the selection uppercase for the rare times it's needed).

Press Compose followed by two characters (occasionally three) to enter a character you don't have on your keyboard. Usually the resulting character combines the two characters you type, for example Compose ' a enters á and Compose s s enters ß. The degree symbol ° is one of the less memorable combinations, it's on Compose o o.

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    Compose o o is a lot easier to remember than Ctrl Shift u B 0 enter. "o" because ° is an o. – Josh Dec 13 '10 at 19:37
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    +1 voted Keyboard Feature of the Month by the Keyboard Feature of the Month Committee (i.e. me) – msw Dec 14 '10 at 14:02
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    Following the links, I found this way to "test drive" A Compose key that won't persist when you restart X: %xmodmap -e "keysym Super_L = Multi_key" ... Super_L is the left "windows-button" keycode; use xev to find any keycode you want. – luser droog Apr 21 '12 at 5:27

Ctrl + Shift + u (this will show an underlined u) and then the unicode value (in this case B0) and follow it by an enter.

  • When I type <Ctrl> + <Shift> + <u> into Thunderbird, I get underline turned on and a "u" character appearing. Then, "B0" just gets typed in also (still underlined) :-( – Josh Dec 13 '10 at 14:53
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    Follow it by <enter> – Gert Dec 13 '10 at 14:54
  • Ah ha, that's the key. Really? This is the only way? Option+Shift+8 on Mac is so much easier to remember, since Shift+8 is *... – Josh Dec 13 '10 at 14:55
  • You can always set a hotkey or something for this. – Falmarri Dec 14 '10 at 4:00
  • Both yours and Gilles' answers worked, but his was the one I used because it's easier for me to remember. Sorry! +1 anyway though! – Josh Dec 21 '10 at 13:42

You can also use Alt Gr+Shift+0.

  • Damn, I am foiled again! It's a laptop keyboard and doesn't have an Alt GR key :-( – Josh Dec 13 '10 at 18:20
  • On Ubuntu 16.04 it seems important that <kbd>Alt Gr</kbd> is pressed before <kbd>Shift</kbd>. If you find the above not working for you make sure your sequencing is correct. – TafT Jan 24 '17 at 9:05
  • @TafT for me it works both ways on Xubuntu 16.04 – jarno Jan 26 at 14:21

ALT+0 works for me (I'm using Gentoo Linux).


As a follow-up to @Gert's answer (since I cannot comment yet), I've found a slightly different method is required when using Raspbian Jessie:

with Ctrl and Shift held down, type u B 0 and then release all keys.

  • how do you type lower u and upper B when you hold shift all the time?? – Youda008 Aug 6 '18 at 16:32
  • Hi, didn't see your comment sorry - with the <ctrl> held down, it will produce a lower case u – patricktokeeffe Oct 21 '18 at 23:37
  • wait, so shift is pressed whole time, but ctrl only for u and then released for B ? – Youda008 Oct 22 '18 at 8:57

You can find the way to display any symbol using xmodmap:

sh$ xmodmap -pke | grep degre
keycode  19 = 0 parenright agrave 0 braceright degree at degree
#             1      2        3   4      5        6   7   8

For each keycode, it shows what symbol is associated depending on the modifiers:

  1. no modifier
  2. Shift+Key
  3. mode_switch+Key
  4. mode_switch+Shift+Key
  5. AltGr+Key
  6. AltGr+Shift+Key
  7. ???
  8. ???

In that example, I can see "degree" is in 6th position and the plain key (position 1) is 0. So I can obtain the degree by pressing AltGr+Shift+0 in that order: depending on your configuration, if you press Shift first, Shift+AltGr is understood as an emulation of the Meta key which has different bindings.


hold down 'alt' key and while holding it down, hold down the 'shift' key too. and while holding down both of those, hold down the 'u' key. now, release all three. a 'u' with an underscore should appear. now press and release the 'b' key and then press and release the '0' (zero) key. now, press the 'enter' key. a '°' should appear.

  • Doens't work for me – mrc02_kr Oct 19 '18 at 18:29

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