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In the character map, after selecting some very large fonts, sometimes I find some characters which, if typed after another character, will appear above or below the first character.

  • What is the common name to describe such a character?
  • Where can I find a list of commonly available characters of this sort?

I am particularly interested in finding a character which creates a small, downward arrow which can be placed underneath other letters.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

More generally, the technical term for these things is combining character. The Wikipedia article I linked to contains a list of the ones currently defined in Unicode.

Alas, Unicode doesn't seem to have a combining character exactly like the one you want. There is a combining upwards arrow below, U+034E, but not a combining downwards arrow below.

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It sounds like you're referring to accent marks, also called diacritics. The link has a very thorough list.

Each font has certain accented characters built into it. You can see them through a font management program (I don't know what system you're using). It will present you with a sheet of every character available in the font. If the one you want isn't there, you may have to create it manually by typing the letter and the accent and kerning the daylights out of them.

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I think the term you may be looking for is diacritic:

a glyph added to a letter, or basic glyph. ... Some diacritical marks, such as the acute ( ´ ) and grave ( ` ) are often called accents. Diacritical marks may appear above or below a letter, or in some other position such as within the letter or between two letters.

As the Wikipedia quote indicates, diacritic is a bit more general than the term 'accent'.

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