This won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I just love these little gizzmos:
Special Characters Menu delivers on-demand special characters insertion within any application.
It runs invisibly in the background, activated by Win+C global hotkey. You can build your own list of "special" characters like √ as well as text blocks. Just click your selection from the popup and it's inserted. Also good for bold, italic etc. tag pairs here on the Lounge. Very small, lightweight and non-intrusive.

Download at - only 27KB and <img src=/S/free.gif border=0 alt=free width=30 height=15>... of course!