I assume you’re writing in American English, but you might still encounter
As proper names, like people and places (
Albrecht Dürer, François Truffaut, Plácido Domingo). In names, accented characters must always appear accurately. Otherwise, the name is misspelled.
As loanwords. Some of these words have become naturalized citizens and should be spelled without accents (
naivefor naïve, meleefor mêlée, coupefor coupé). Others have not and should not ( cause célèbre, piña colada, Götterdämmerung). Check a dictionary or usage guide.
How do you type these? Consult the chart of common accented characters.
Proper names are not italicized, but loanwords sometimes are, depending on their degree of assimilation. Again, check a dictionary or usage guide.
The German letter
Eszettis technically a ligature, not an accented character: it takes the place of ssin a word like Straße. Unlike ligatures in English, its use in German is not discretionary—Germany has adopted rules for when it must appear and when it must not. (To the surprise of no one.) Switzerland, meanwhile, disregards the Eszett and just uses ss. And almost no one uses the Eszett with all caps.
It’s best to follow Switzerland’s lead and ignore it. Even if you place the Eszett correctly, it’s less common to English speakers than the usual accented characters, and it can easily be mistaken for a letter B or a Greek beta (
β). If you really must type one, on Windows it’s alt 0223; on Mac OS it’s option + s.