How to insert characters and symbols into excel

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.

Home Excel 2013 – How to Insert Symbols or Special Characters

The Symbol window has 2 tabs, one for symbols and the other for special characters. The symbols that are available on the Symbols tab depend on the selected font. Different fonts have different symbols that they can create. Some fonts have a lot more available symbols than others.

How to insert characters and symbols into excel

The bottom of the window displays the last 16 symbols that you have used. You can insert one of the symbols or special characters into a cell by clicking on one of them and then clicking on the Insert button.

Clicking on the Insert button places the selected symbol in the current cell but it doesn’t close the symbol window. This allows you to enter multiple symbols in the same cell without having to reopen the Symbol window. You may have to move the Symbol window if it is obstructing the cell you are entering a symbol or special character in.

Clicking on the down arrow to the right of the from: drop down box reveals three categories of symbols to select from.

Unicode stands for Universal Code. Unicode code can display over 16 thousand symbols. It is used to represent all the symbols from all the languages around the world.

ASCII stands for American Standard Code of Information Interchange. The ASCII format of creating symbols has been around for a long time. It is capable of creating up to 256 different symbols. It uses symbols from the US and Western Europe.

ASCII (decimal) codes use the numbers 0 to 9.

ASCII(hex) codes are hexadecimal. They can use numbers from 0 to 15. The number 10 is represented by an A, 11 by B, 12 by C, 13 by D, 14 by E, and 15 by F.

The Character code is the numeric representation for the symbol you select. The Character code will be different for the same symbol depending upon whether it is in a decimal or hexadecimal format.

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.

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  • How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first two
    numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    possible?

    Re: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    With your data in column A, in another column try
    =LEFT(A1,2)&”-“&RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-2)
    Copy and Paste Special, Values the new column to lose the formulas, then cut
    and paste the new column to overwrite the original,
    Try this out on a copy of your original worksheet!
    Regards,
    Alan.
    “Deb” wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    >I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first two
    > numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    > possible?

    Re: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    If there is a space between the first two numbers, you could use a helpler
    column and use the following formula.
    This is with your number in column A.

    If there are no spaces and you just want to put a dash between the first and
    second number (example. 123 would be 1-23), then try:

    “Deb” wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    >I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first two
    > numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    > possible?

    RE: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    You could do something like this. Formula in F5 for this example.

    I used 100 in this formula because I would not think what you are working
    with would be longer than that. But if it is then just increase the number.

    If you want to be more technical you could do ths instead of using 100:

    Then you can copy it down. Then do a Copy / Paste Special – Value to change
    the formual to a value.

    RE: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    Example: I have a column of 5 character numbers like row 1 is 10011, row 2
    is 10012, row 3 is 10013, etc. I need to add a dash after the first two
    characters like row 1 needs to be 10-011, row 2 needs to be 10-012, row 3
    needs to be 10-013, etc. So, I need to insert a dash after the first two
    digits and do this all the way down the column.

    “Deb” wrote:

    > I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first two
    > numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    > possible?

    Re: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    Once again, this assumes that your number is in column A. Use an available
    column and use this formula in the same row as the number. Then copy down
    and to the right as needed. Once all of your numbers are converted, you can
    copy the entire area and paste (paste special-values only) over the original
    data. Of course you should backup your data first.

    “Deb” wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > Example: I have a column of 5 character numbers like row 1 is 10011, row
    > 2
    > is 10012, row 3 is 10013, etc. I need to add a dash after the first two
    > characters like row 1 needs to be 10-011, row 2 needs to be 10-012, row 3
    > needs to be 10-013, etc. So, I need to insert a dash after the first two
    > digits and do this all the way down the column.
    >
    > “Deb” wrote:
    >
    >> I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first two
    >> numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    >> possible?

    Re: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    Did anyone see my original post?
    Regards,
    Alan.

    wrote in message
    news:%[email protected]
    > Ok,
    >
    > Use:
    >
    > =LEFT(A1,2)&”-“&RIGHT(A1,LEN(A1)-2)
    >
    > Once again, this assumes that your number is in column A. Use an
    > available column and use this formula in the same row as the number. Then
    > copy down and to the right as needed. Once all of your numbers are
    > converted, you can copy the entire area and paste (paste special-values
    > only) over the original data. Of course you should backup your data
    > first.
    >
    > Regards,
    > Paul
    >
    > “Deb” wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]
    >> Example: I have a column of 5 character numbers like row 1 is 10011, row
    >> 2
    >> is 10012, row 3 is 10013, etc. I need to add a dash after the first two
    >> characters like row 1 needs to be 10-011, row 2 needs to be 10-012, row 3
    >> needs to be 10-013, etc. So, I need to insert a dash after the first two
    >> digits and do this all the way down the column.
    >>
    >> “Deb” wrote:
    >>
    >>> I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first
    >>> two
    >>> numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    >>> possible?
    >
    >

    RE: How do I add a symbol between numbers in a column?

    If you only care about how your numbers look, then you can use a custom
    number format with

    as the type. Your cells will still contain 10011, 10012, 10013, etc. but
    they will be displayed as 10-011, 10-012, 10-013, etc.

    Otherwise you will have to create a temporary column with the formulas
    already listed and then copy and paste special (use the edit menu, or right
    click to see paste special), and select values. This will paste the result
    of the formulas. You can then delete the temporary column.

    “Deb” wrote:

    > Example: I have a column of 5 character numbers like row 1 is 10011, row 2
    > is 10012, row 3 is 10013, etc. I need to add a dash after the first two
    > characters like row 1 needs to be 10-011, row 2 needs to be 10-012, row 3
    > needs to be 10-013, etc. So, I need to insert a dash after the first two
    > digits and do this all the way down the column.
    >
    > “Deb” wrote:
    >
    > > I have a column of numbers and I need to add a dash between the first two
    > > numbers without having to do it manually (several thousand rows). Is it
    > > possible?

    Referring to following online file, I would like to know on how to insert symbol code into Excel, such as 21B6

    Does anyone have any suggestions?
    Thanks in advance for any suggestions

    Report abuse

    Replies (7) 

    (1) Activate the Insert tab of the ribbon, and click Symbol in the Symbols group.

    (2) Select ‘Arial Unicode MS’ from the ‘Font’ dropdown

    (3) Select ‘Unicode (hex)’ from the ‘from’ dropdown.

    (4) Enter 21B6 in the ‘Character code’ box (or click on the character you want).

    Report abuse

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    That menu is not available for 2003, would it be possible to insert the code 21B6 manually within Excel 2003?

    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you very much for any suggestions (^v^)

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    In Excel 2003, click on the Insert menu, then click Symbol.

    The rest is exactly the same.

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    Please see following image, it seems that features are limited for Excel 2003.

    I would like to know on any Microsoft Excel online symbol reference, so I can copy and paste into Excel instead.

    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you very much for any suggestions (^v^)

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    I know if I want the & symbol to print, I need to use &&, but the same logic isn’t working for the backslash or bracket. I’ve tried

    Those all just seem to tell Excel to ignore further special commands.

    WHat I am trying to do is this:

    But that gives me C:\path\filename.xlsxTabName.

    I either want another slash after the .xlsx or have the tab name visibly print as

    Report abuse

    Replies (4) 

    You don’t need to escape those characters. Just place them where you want them and they will print.

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    For example, this:

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    4 people found this reply helpful

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    To insert \ as pointed out by zorvek –

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    Ugh. Now I see what I was doing wrong. I was thinking & was a concatenation character instead of telling Excel to do something special with the text following, so I was putting my characters after the ampersand, which was, of course, doing nothing, but then the [tab] “command” was just seen as normal text.

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    Let’s take a look.

    There are several different ways to insert symbols and special characters. One way, that’s not obvious, is to use AutoCorrect. AutoCorrect is a feature built into Excel that automatically substitutes one bit of text for another.

    The more standard way to add special characters is to use the Symbol button on the Insert tab of the ribbon. This launches the Symbol window which contains two tabs.

    The Special Characters tab is a rather short list of commonly used characters. If the character you need is listed here, select it and click Insert. Then click Close.

    The Symbols tab has more options. Here, you can select both a Font and a Subset of symbols. Subsets are groups of related symbols. For example, use the Subset menu to switch to arrows. When you find the symbol you want, just click Insert. You can also double-click to insert a symbol.

    If you need to insert a graphic symbol from a certain font, select the font first, then browse the available symbols. Let’s switch to Wingdings to find a checkmark and a checkbox symbol.

    Keep in mind that other users will only see special characters in fonts that they, too, have installed on their system. Wingdings is a pretty good choice, since it’s standard on Windows machines and Macs that have Microsoft Office installed.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    We’ve previously shown you how to add keyboard shortcuts to symbols in Word 2013 to make it easier to insert them into your documents. Keyboard shortcuts can be added to symbols in Excel as well, but there’s no direct method.

    We’ll show you a workaround using the AutoCorrect feature in Excel to create an easy-to-remember keyboard shortcut for a symbol.

    When you click Symbol in the Symbols section of the Insert tab, you’ll notice that there’s no down arrow indicating a drop-down menu like there is in Word.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Also, there is no Shortcut Key button or code available on the Symbol dialog box.

    Even when you right-click on a tab on the Ribbon and select Customize the Ribbon from the popup menu…

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    …there is no Customize button below the list of commands on the left side of the Options dialog box.

    To work around this limitation in Excel and assign a shortcut key to a symbol, put the cursor in a cell and use the Symbol button in the Symbols section of the Insert tab to select and insert a symbol, such as the British Pound sign.

    NOTE: Inserting a symbol in Excel is done the same way as in Word.

    Select the symbol in the cell and copy it to the clipboard.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Click the FILE tab.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Click Options in the list on the left side of the Info screen.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    On the Excel Options dialog box, click Proofing in the list on the left.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    On the Proofing screen, click AutoCorrect Options.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    The AutoCorrect tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box is setup with a default list of typical misspellings and symbols that will be automatically corrected or inserted when typing the misspelled word or set of characters associated with the symbol.

    This list can be modified, so you can use it to add easy-to-remember abbreviations (but not real words) to represent symbols that you type often. For example, we entered BP into the edit box below Replace and pasted the British Pound symbol into the edit box below With and clicked Add to add our pair to the list.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Click OK to close the AutoCorrect dialog box and click OK again to close the Excel Options dialog box.

    Now, anytime we want to insert a British Pound symbol into a cell, we can type BP and a space and the symbol will be automatically inserted.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Follow the same procedure to add any other abbreviations for often-used symbols to the AutoCorrect list for easy insertion of symbols into your Excel worksheets.

    Symbols is a mark used for an object while special characters is a selection of punctuation. You can easily insert symbols and special characters in Excel.

    Excel is an important utility application software. It is used for data analysis, modelling, charting, calculations, apply lot of functions for complex calculation and many more. Sometime we need to insert symbols and special characters in Excel, but most of the symbols and special characters does not shown in your keyboard. At this time we need help or want to know how to insert symbols and special character in active worksheet of Excel. Normally symbols is a mark or character which is used for an object, process, function and many more, while special characters is a selection of punctuation characters which is shown on your keyboard. You can easily insert lot of special characters with the help of Alt key.

    How to insert symbols and special characters in Excel

    If you want to insert symbols and special characters in Excel then you have different ways to do this job. We have to discuss both ways in the guide which helps you to quickly insert symbols and special characters in active worksheet.

    How to insert characters and symbols into excel

    Method 1: With the help of Insert Tab

    If you want to insert different symbols, special character or equations in active worksheet then you have to take given few simple steps to insert them.

    Step 1: Open an existing worksheet in which you want to insert symbols and special characters in Excel.

    Step 2: Click on the Insert tab > Click on the “Symbol” option which is located in Symbols group.

    Step 3: Select the Font, subset and then choose any required symbols from symbols tab and or any required special characters from special characters tab.

    Step 4: Click on the Insert button. Now all required symbols and special characters are shown in active cell in the worksheet.

    Method 2: With the help of Functions

    This is another method which helps you to easily insert different symbols, special characters in active worksheet. You just take given few simple steps to insert them. You can use function which help you to quickly insert any symbols and special characters in Excel.

    Char Function: It is used to return characters which is specified by a code number from the character set for your computer.

    Syntax of Char function: Char(number)
    Number: You can given any number between 1 to 255 specifying which character you want to insert.

    Row function: It is used to show the row number of the given cell reference.

    Syntax of Row function: Row(reference)
    Reference: It is the used for single cell or range of cells for which you want the row number. If it is omitted then return the cell containing the row function.

    Step 1: Open an existing worksheet in which you want to insert symbols and special characters in Excel.

    Step 2: Type the following given formula in any cell =CHAR(ROW()) and press enter. Now you can drag the formula up to rest of the cells as per your requirement. Now you can view lot of symbols and special characters in Excel.

    I hope after reading his guide you can easily insert symbols and special characters in Excel. If you have any suggestion regarding this guide then please write us in the comment box. Thanks to all.