An apparatus and method for simulating a mechanical detent in a manually operable rotary digital encoder 100 typically used to control a display or readout 114 in an associated electronic system 110. The output from the encoder 100 to the electronic system 110 is suspended for a predetermined time when the encoder shaft 104 is rotated past a predetermined preset point. While the encoder output is suspended, the output signal Vo to the electronic system is set at a level indicative of the preset point. The system user is thus able to quickly locate the preset point without overshooting it. If the user does, in fact, want to adjust the encoder 100 past the preset point, the delay is of such a duration that it will have expired by the time the user repositions his hand on the encoder knob 102, thus allowing adjustment of the encoder 100 to continue beyond the preset point.