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How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Ways To Insert Symbols in Excel

The easiest way to insert a symbol or a special character in Excel is to search for that symbol in the search engine, copy it (Ctrl+C), and finally paste it (Ctrl+V) in the cell to which you want it.

To paste the symbol such that it matches the formatting of your cell, use Ctrl + Shift + V instead of simple Ctrl + V.

However, unlike the above method, excel has an in-built symbol option from where you can insert the symbols in Excel.

In the upcoming section, we would learn to insert the symbols or the special characters using these in-built options.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Where is This Built-In Option?

To navigate to the in-built excel symbols option, follow the below path.

‘Insert’ Tab > ‘Symbols’ group > ‘Symbol’ button

Insert Symbols Using ‘Symbols’ Options

Even though the name of the option is given as ‘Symbols’, however, you can use the same option to insert any special character in Excel.

Now, select the cell, and then navigate to the ‘Symbol’ option, as shown in the above section, and click on the ‘Symbol’ button.

As a result, the ‘Symbol’ dialog box would appear. As you can see, there are two tabs, one for ‘Symbols’ and another for ‘Special Characters’.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

There are basically, three sections in this dialog box. The first section provides a list of hundreds of symbols. The next section is for ‘Recently used symbols’ and the last one is ‘Symbol Unicode Character’.

To insert any symbol, search for the symbol from the list. Then select it and then click on the ‘Insert’ button once. Alternatively, you can press the ‘Enter’ key on your keyboard instead of using the ‘Insert’ button.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

If you click ‘Insert’ twice, then excel would insert two symbols in the same cell.

As you can see, the list of symbols is quite large, and searching for your symbol using the scroll bar is not an easy task.

To mitigate this, you can use the options in the ‘Subset’ drop-down button which logically groups the symbols. For example, ‘Currency Symbol’ subset groups all the currencies and so on.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Even you can change the font to Wingdings, Webdings, to get a whole range of exciting symbols. You can insert tick marks, cross marks using the Wingdings font.

Insert Special Characters in Excel

You can find these in the tab named ‘Special Characters’ (shown below). Select the character that you want to insert and click the ‘Insert’ button as shown in the image below:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Insert Symbol Using Code

As we saw in the previous sections, to insert a symbol, you need to scroll down a lot and search for the required symbol.

However, searching for a symbol that you want to use frequently and inserting it using the above method is not worthy to do.

In order to get rid of this tiresome task, you can use the character code of the symbol. It is visible on the bottom right section of this dialog box.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Search for the symbol to insert from the list, click it, and check its code. Note this code somewhere and in the future, just enter this code there and click Insert to insert it quickly.

  1. Unicode (hex) – 00A9
  2. ASCII (decimal) – 169
  3. ASCII (hex) – 00A9

A pictorial demonstration to insert the symbol using the character code:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

This brings to the end of this blog. Share your views and comments in the comment section below.

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Most spreadsheets are full of numbers. Some of them include text.

But if you want to customize what’s in your spreadsheet and open up some neat possibilities, you can also include symbols and special characters.

The two are almost exactly the same, but Excel treats them slightly differently. We’ll take a look at that first.

Then we’ll go over a few different ways you can add those characters to your spreadsheet.

Open up a new workbook and let’s get started!

*This tutorial is for Excel 2019/Microsoft 365 (for Windows). Got a different version? No problem, you can still follow the exact same steps.

Table of Contents

Using the Symbol menu

The simplest way to insert symbols and special characters into your spreadsheet is with Excel’s built-in Symbol menu.

Even though it’s the “Symbols” menu, you can use it to insert both symbols and special characters.

To open the menu, click the Insert tab in the Ribbon, then click Symbol:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

You’ll see the Symbol menu:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

From here, you can scroll through hundreds of symbols. To insert one, click on it, then click Insert.

Finding what you want in this massive list of symbols can be quite difficult. To help, Excel divides the symbols into sections, which you can browse with the Subset drop-down:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

There are figures from Latin script, other languages, superscripts, subscripts, currency symbols, arrows, mathematical symbols, enclosed alphanumerics, geometric shapes, and a lot more.

To open up even more symbols, use the drop-down menu in the top-left corner to change the font from “(normal text)” to Wingdings, Wingdings 2, or Webdings.

There are tons of great symbols in those fonts. (If you’re looking for a check mark, a commonly used symbol, select Wingdings and scroll down to the bottom.)

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

There are also more technical things like non-breaking spaces, left-to-right embedding, em-space, and en-space.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Pro tip: take notes on symbols

If you scroll through the list of symbols, you’ll see that any one you click on has a corresponding character code. This code is displayed in the bottom-right corner:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

You’ll also see that you can get the character code in Unicode, ASCII (decimal), and ASCII (hex).

When you find the symbol you want, take note of the character code and the format. You can use this information to quickly get the symbol in the future.

Next time you open the Symbol menu, select the correct type of encoding, then enter the number in the Character code box.

Watch Video – Show Symbols in Drop Down Lists

When creating a drop-down list in Excel, it takes a range of cells as input and shows it as a list. There is not much you can do with how your list looks in the drop down. For example, you can not give a background color or change font color, font type, font size, etc.

Despite these limitations, there are a couple of things you can do in a drop down list. Here are some of the tutorials I wrote long back:

In this tutorial, I will show you how to show symbols in drop down lists in Excel.

Inserting Symbols in Cells

To use any symbol in a drop down list, we first need to get it in a cell. Here is how you can insert symbols in excel cells:

  • Select a cell (let’s say A1).
  • Go to Insert –> Symbols –> Symbol.
  • In the Symbol dialog box, select the font from the drop down.
    • An excel drop-down list displays the content in Tahoma font (info credit: Debra Dalgleish). Any symbol you use from Tahoma font also usually works with other regularly used fonts such as Arial, Calibri, Trebuchet MS, Verdana, etc. However, you should test this in case you are using symbols from other fonts.How to insert characters and symbols into excel
  • In the Symbol dialog box, select the symbol you want to insert and click on Insert. This inserts the selected symbol in the cell.
  • Select another cell to insert another symbol.

Now we can use these symbols in cells (as shown above in the pic) to create a drop down list.

Creating a Drop Down List

Once you have the items you want to show in a drop down list, here are the steps to create it:

  1. Select the cell where you want to create the drop down list.
  2. Go to Data –> Data Tools –> Data Validation.How to insert characters and symbols into excel
  3. In the Data Validation dialog box:
    • In the Settings tab, select List from the drop down.
    • In the source field, select the range of cells that you want in the drop down list.How to insert characters and symbols into excel
  4. That’s it. It will now show the drop down icon when you select the cell. Click on the downward pointing arrow icon to show the drop down list (as shown below).

Examples of Symbols in Drop Down Lists in Excel

You can use only symbols in the drop down list or you can combine symbols and text. Here are some examples of some common symbols that can be used.

Using Symbols Only

  • Upward and Downward arrows to show increase/decrease.
  • Upward/Downward/No change arrows.

Using Symbols and Text

You can also combine symbol and text and show it in the drop down list.

Suppose you have the symbol in cell A1, use the following formula in cell B1:

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

You can replace the word ‘Increasing’ with any text or cell reference.

Here are some examples to show how this combination of text and symbols can be used in the drop downs.

  • Less-than/Greater-than symbols with text.
  • Upward and Downward arrows with text.
  • Using Bullets (to show main category and sub-category).
    • To Insert a bullet:
      • Go to the cell and double click (or F2) to get into edit mode.
      • Press Alt + 7 or Alt + 9 from your numeric keypad.
        If you don’t have a numeric keypad, activate the NumLock and follow the above steps.
      • To get the indentation, as shown above, simply use the space character.

In this tutorial, I have shown some of the examples of how you can use symbols in a drop down lists in Excel. I would love to know how you use it in your work.

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

You May Also Like the Following Excel Tutorials:

Now the cell is filled with more characters that you inserted.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

If you want to insert the symbol or icon symbols that Excel offers in their own menu, then do everything as well as the stated instructions with the difference that this time select the symbol you want to insert into the cell.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

Insert symbols the AT (@) in Excel

If you want to insert only one symbol then follow the easy way to write a character or symbol in a cell using the command ‘Symbol‘ in the Insert toolbar. (see picture below).

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

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Posted by John | Jan 15, 2017 | Charts | 0 |

Adding symbols into your tables or charts can be a great visual aid to your numbers. In this example we’ll look at how we can add up and down arrows into our number formatting to show increases or decreases in our data. The symbols we’re going to use are unicode characters which are actually a standard across any platform and are available on any language PC.

Step 1: Accessing Symbols in Excel

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

We’ll need to insert the symbols we want to use into our workbook.

  1. Select an empty cell to insert the symbols into.
  2. Go to the Insert tab in the ribbon.
  3. From the Symbols section, press the Symbol button.
  4. Select Arial from the Font drop down list.
  5. Select Geometric Shapes from the Subset drop down list.
  6. Select the ▲ arrow.
  7. Press the Insert button. Select the ▼ arrow, and press the Insert button again.
  8. Press the Close button.

You can now use these symbols later by copying and pasting them from the cell you inserted them into.

Step 2: Adding Symbols To Your Table Formatting

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

We can add symbols into our table data using cell formatting.

  1. Select the data from your table where you want add symbols.
  2. Right click and select Format Cells from the menu. You can also access the Format Cells menu using the Ctrl + 1 keyboard shortcut.
  3. Go to the Number tab in the Format Cells menu.
  4. Select Custom from the Category.
  5. Add this format code to the Type. or modify it with different symbols you might have chosen in step 1 .

This will format positive numbers as green with a up arrow in front and negative numbers as red with a down arrow in front.

  • Press the OK button.
  • Step 3: Add A Bar Chart Using Your Data

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Charts will automatically take on the formatting of the data used so our chart will also have a nice visual appeal.

    1. Select your data.
    2. Go to the Insert tab in the ribbon.
    3. From the Charts section, press the small Bar Chart icon.
    4. Select the 2D Bar Chart from the menu.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    If your bar chart doesn’t contain the symbols then you can add them in.

    1. Here we can see the symbol formatting in our chart. If it’s not already there, click on the chart.
    2. Go to the Design tab.
    3. From the Chart Layouts section, select the Quick Layout button.
    4. Select your preferred layout.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Now you have a cool graph with easy to see information about the change in sales since last year. The formatting is dynamic so if you update your data the symbols in the table and graph will update accordingly.

    How to Insert Symbols and Special Characters using ALT Key Shortcuts in Word, Excel and PowerPoint Documents?

    Alt Key Shortcuts – Symbol Categories

    Below table shows the complete list of Alt key shortcuts with search function. By default the table is sorted with the first column “Alt + Key”. You can change the filtering based on any column or enter the description in the search box and the results will be automatically filtered. The shortcuts are categorized under the last column “Symbol Category” for easy to filter with the following categories:

    • Accented Characters – accented vowel letters used in different languages.
    • Currency – all currency and money related symbols.
    • Gaming – symbols related to games and sports.
    • Hearts – since there are many heart symbols, we have a dedicated category.
    • Human – covers different face symbols and other human related stuffs.
    • Keyboard Defaults – all default keys available on standard international English keyboard.
    • Language Characters – special language characters.
    • Mathematics – Mathematical symbols like degree, plus or minus, etc.
    • Musical Symbols – covers all music related symbols and instruments.
    • Playing Cards – symbols of playing card deck.
    • Special – special characters like copyright, trademark, registered, etc.
    • Zodiac Symbols – covers zodiac symbols.
    • Transport Symbols – all vehicles and signboard symbols.
    • Arrows – covers different types of arrows.
    • Numbers – rounded numbers in white and black.
    • Stars – different kinds of star symbols.

    Example Search – type “tick” in the search box to find all related tick mark symbols.

    How to Use Alt Key Shortcuts?

    All the shortcuts are checked on Microsoft Word 2010/2013/2016/Office 365 on Windows 7/8/10 platforms, hence some of the codes may not work on other software like Excel and PowerPoint. In this case you can just copy and paste the symbols. Also the symbols may look different on Microsoft office documents compared to the ones displayed on the above table as this is a browser display. Follow the below instructions on how to use these Alt key shortcuts:

    • Press and Hold any of the ALT key and then press the numbers one by one.
    • Make sure Numeric lock is switched on.
    • Shortcut keys with numbers will only work with ALT and the number pad keys as shown in the below keyboard picture. It may not work as expected with the number keys part of the regular keyboard.

    If you don’t have separate number pad on your keyboard, enable the number lock and using the shortcuts with keyboard numbers as shown below. In most cases, you have to use function key with alt and press numbers.

    Alt Key Keyboard Shortcuts without Numbers:

    Key Symbol Symbol Description
    Alt + Ctrl + C © Copyright
    Alt + Ctrl + R ® Registered
    Alt + Ctrl + . Continuation
    Alt + Ctrl + T Trademark
    Alt + Ctrl + E Euro

    Alt Code Shortcuts Images – Currency, Math, Special, Zodiac and All Symbols

    If you are looking for alt key shortcuts in image format, click the below links to get download the shortcuts images. Once the image is opened in a new tab, right click and save to your PC or Mac for offline use. Check out the shortcuts list for using options or alt code in Mac.

    This post will guide you how to insert character or text in middle of cells in Excel. How do I add text string or character to each cell of a column or range with a formula in Excel. How to add text to the beginning of all selected cells in Excel. How to add character after the first character of cells in Excel.

    Assuming that you have a list of data in range B1:B5 that contain string values and you want to add one character “E” after the first character of string in Cells. You can refer to the following two methods.

    Insert Character or Text to Cells with a Formula

    To insert the character to cells in Excel, you can use a formula based on the LEFT function and the MID function. Like this:

    Type this formula into a blank cell, such as: Cell C1, and press Enter key. And then drag the AutoFill Handle down to other cells to apply this formula.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    This formula will inert the character “E” after the first character of string in Cells. And if you want to insert the character or text string after the second or third or N position of the string in Cells, you just need to replace the number 1 in Left function and the number 2 in MID function as 2 and 3. Like below:

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Insert Character or Text to Cells with VBA

    You can also use an Excel VBA Macro to insert one character or text after the first position of the text string in Cells. Just do the following steps:

    #1 open your excel workbook and then click on “Visual Basic” command under DEVELOPER Tab, or just press “ALT+F11” shortcut.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    #2 then the “Visual Basic Editor” window will appear.

    #3 click “Insert” ->”Module” to create a new module.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    #4 paste the below VBA code into the code window. Then clicking “Save” button.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    #5 back to the current worksheet, then run the above excel macro. Click Run button.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    #6 select one Range that you want to insert one character.
    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    On the other hand, the use of Symbols is a feature that I’ve seen used extensively in academia. I’ve taken quite a few classes online and have seen many professors in Finance and other classes requiring arithmetic use symbols when putting together their handouts and homework assignments in Excel and Word. I figured I’d combine the features in this how-to since they both reside in the same dialog box.

    Once you complete this how-to you will be able to insert special characters and symbols in your Excel spreadsheets. If you have any comments or questions please post them below.

    Note: I used Excel 2007 when creating this tutorial.

    Insert Symbol into Cells

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    1. Click on the cell you wish to insert the symbol into.

    2. Click on the Insert tab located on the Ribbon.

    3. Click on the Symbol icon located in the Text group.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    4. Make sure the Symbols tab is selected.

    5. You have the option to select the font for the symbol using the Font drop-down (in this example I used the Symbol font).

    6. Click on the symbol you wish to use.

    7. Click on the Insert button to use the symbol in the selected cell.

    8. Once inserted the Cancel button will change to the Close button, when you are done, click Close to return to the spreadsheet.

    I took the liberty of inserting several symbols in the same cell.

    Insert Special Characters into Cells

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    1. Click on the cell you wish to insert the symbol into.

    2. Click on the Insert tab located on the Ribbon.

    3. Click on the Symbol icon located in the Text group.

    4. Click on the Special Characters tab.

    5. Click on the special character you wish to use.

    6. Click on the Insert button to use the special character in the selected cell.

    7. Once inserted the Cancel button will change to the Close button, when you are done, click Close to return to the spreadsheet.

    Now the cell is filled with more characters that you inserted.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    If you want to insert the symbol or icon symbols that Excel offers in their own menu, then do everything as well as the stated instructions with the difference that this time select the symbol you want to insert into the cell.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Insert symbols the AT (@) in Excel

    If you want to insert only one symbol then follow the easy way to write a character or symbol in a cell using the command ‘Symbol‘ in the Insert toolbar. (see picture below).

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

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    Popular Tags

    • EXCEL TUTORIALS
      • 1. Start and close Excel
      • 2. Layout window of Excel
      • 3. Ribbon and Toolbars in Excel
      • 3.1. Quick Access Toolbar in Excel
      • 3.2. Home Toolbar Tab in Excel
      • 3.3. Insert Toolbar Tab in Excel
      • 3.4. Page Layout Toolbar in Excel
      • 3.5. Formulas Toolbar Tab in Excel
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      • 8a. Page Setup Options Worksheet
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      • 10. Print a Worksheet or a Table or a Print Area from Excel Workbook
      • 11. Creating Folders when Save or Save As Workbook in Excel
      • 12. Navigate in Excel Worksheet
      • 13. Select Cells, Rows, Columns
      • 14. Operators in Excel
      • 14a. List all functions by category
      • 15. Creating a formula in Excel
      • 15a. Name of Cells or Data in Excel
      • 16. Conditional Formatting in Excel
      • 17. Absolute and Relative Address
      • 18. Create a Drop Down Menu
      • 19. Creating a Drop Down List
      • 20. Formatting Text and Cell in Excel
      • 21. Modify the Data in Excel Cell
      • 22. Merge or Split Cells in Excel
      • 23. Data Validation in Excel
      • 24. Automatic filling series in Excel
      • 25. Insert special Character or Symbol
      • 26. Shapes and SmartArt Graphic
      • 27. Add Comments in to Excel Cell
      • 28. Insert Picture to Comment Box
      • 29. Undo and Redo Commands
      • 30. Cut, Copy, Paste Cell Contents
      • 31. Insert or Delete Cells, Columns, Rows, Worksheets in Excel
      • 32. Resize or Customize Hight or Width of Cells, Columns and Rows
      • 33. Inserting or Adding Images or Pictures Into Excel a Cell
      • 34. Make Garph or Chart in Excel
      • 35. Formatting Data as Table
      • 36. Sorting Data In Excel
      • 37. Filtering Data in Excel
      • 38. Insert or Create PivotTable
      • 39. Format Date in Excel
      • 40. Locking Cells and Protect the Worksheet
      • 41. Protect the Workbook in Excel
      • 42. Types of Errors in Excel
      • 43. Record a VBA Macro in Excel
      • 43a. CV Resume – Curriculum Vitae
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