You can insert an ordinary graphic character (⁖, ‘a’, ‘B’, ‘3’, and ‘=’) by typing the associated key. This adds the character to the buffer at point. Insertion moves point forward, so that point remains just after the inserted text. See Point.
To end a line and start a new one, type <RET>. This key may be labeled <Return> or <Enter> on your keyboard, but we refer to it as <RET> in this manual. Pressing it inserts a newline character in the buffer. If point is at the end of the line, this creates a new blank line after it; if point is in the middle of a line, the line is split at that position.
As we explain later in this manual, you can change the way Emacs handles text insertion by turning on minor modes. For instance, if you turn on a minor mode called Auto Fill mode, Emacs can split lines automatically when they become too long (see Filling). If you turn on a minor mode called Overwrite mode, inserted characters replace (overwrite) existing text, instead of shoving it to the right. See Minor Modes.
Only graphic characters can be inserted by typing the associated
key; other keys act as editing commands and do not insert themselves.
For instance, DEL runs the command
by default (some modes bind it to a different command); it does not
insert a literal ‘DEL’ character (ASCII character code
To insert a non-graphic character, or a character that your keyboard
does not support, first quote it by typing C-q
quoted-insert). There are two ways to use C-q:
The use of octal sequences is disabled in ordinary non-binary Overwrite mode, to give you a convenient way to insert a digit instead of overwriting with it.
To use decimal or hexadecimal instead of octal, set the variable
read-quoted-char-radix to 10 or 16. If the radix is 16,
the letters a to f serve as part of a character code,
just like digits. Case is ignored.
A numeric argument tells C-q how many copies of the quoted character to insert (see Arguments).
Instead of C-q, you can use C-x 8 <RET>
ucs-insert) to insert a character based on its Unicode name or
code-point. This command prompts for a character to insert, using
the minibuffer; you can specify the character using either (i) the
character's name in the Unicode standard, or (ii) the character's
code-point in the Unicode standard. If you specify the character's
name, the command provides completion.