How to Insert Symbols in Excel?

Have you ever wondered how to make your Excel spreadsheets more visually appealing and easier to understand?

Symbols can be a game-changer, transforming dull data into eye-catching and insightful information.

In this blog post, you’ll learn various methods for inserting symbols in Excel, from quick insertion techniques to advanced customization options, providing you with the tools you need to enhance your data visualization skills.

We’ll explore the world of symbols in Excel, including their importance and the wide variety available.

You’ll discover how to use keyboard shortcuts, copy and paste, and the symbol dialog box, along with advanced techniques like CHAR and UNICHAR functions, AutoCorrect customization, and Excel VBA.

Additionally, we’ll cover formatting and customizing symbols, counting and analyzing symbols, and even importing symbols from Google Sheets. So, let’s get started on this exciting journey of symbol mastery in Excel!

Understanding Symbols in Excel

Symbols significantly contribute to data representation and visualization in Excel, simplifying the understanding of complex information.

They can be used for various purposes, such as:

  • Denoting the concept of “yes” using a checkmark
  • Representing currency symbols for financial data
  • Indicating progress with a progress bar
  • Highlighting important data with arrows or stars
  • Showing trends with up and down arrows
  • Displaying warning signs or caution symbols

From tick marks and cross marks to the Greek capital letter delta, there’s a vast array of symbols available to enhance your data and make it more meaningful.

While some symbols are built into Excel, like smiley faces and check marks, others can be inserted using different methods such as the insert symbol option, shortcuts, or CHAR function.

The subsequent sections will cover different techniques for inserting and customizing symbols, thereby enhancing the visual appeal and informativeness of your Excel worksheets.

Ways to Insert Symbols in Excel

Let’s now look at some of the ways you can use to insert symbols in Microsoft Excel.

Copying and Pasting Symbols

The simplest way to insert a symbol in Excel is by copying it from an external source, such as the internet, and pasting it into the desired cell.

This method is particularly useful when you need to insert a symbol that isn’t built into Excel, like currency symbols or emojis.

To copy and paste a symbol, follow these steps:

  1. Select the desired symbol from an external source.
  2. Press Ctrl+C or right-click and select “Copy” to copy the symbol to your clipboard.
  3. Click on the cell in Excel where you want to insert the symbol.
  4. Press Ctrl+V or right-click and select “Paste” to paste the symbol into the cell.

It’s as easy as that!

You can also use the “Paste Special” feature to ensure accurate formatting when pasting symbols into Excel.

The Symbol Dialog Box Approach

The Symbol dialog box approach is another method for inserting symbols in Excel, providing you with a comprehensive list of available symbols to choose from.

This technique is particularly useful when you need to insert a specific symbol that you’re not sure how to type using keyboard shortcuts or Alt codes.

To use the Symbol dialog box, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the cell where you want to insert the symbol.
  2. Navigate to the Insert tab in the Excel ribbon.
Click the insert button
  1. Click on the Symbol button to open the Symbol dialog box. This opens the Symbols dialog box in the worksheet.
Click on the symbols icon in the ribbon
  1. The Symbol dialog box displays a wide array of symbols, including currency symbols and special characters.
  2. Scroll through the list or use the search function to find the desired symbol.
Select the symbol that you want to insert in Excel
  1. Select the symbol.
  2. Click the Insert button to add the symbol to the selected cell.
Click the insert button to insert the symbol in the cell in Excel

The Symbol dialog box approach, accessible through the file tab, gives you easy access to a vast collection of symbols, making it a versatile and powerful tool for inserting symbols in Excel.

Keyboard Shortcuts and ALT Codes

Another fast and convenient method for inserting symbols in Excel is by using keyboard shortcuts and ALT codes.

This technique allows you to quickly insert symbols without accessing any menus, making it perfect for situations where you need to insert a symbol multiple times or in combination with other text and numbers.

To use an Alt code, follow these steps:

  1. Hold the Alt key.
  2. Type the corresponding character code on your number pad (with Num Lock enabled).
  3. For example, to insert a delta symbol, press and hold the Alt key while typing “30” on the number pad.
  4. Release the Alt key.

To use this method, you need to know the code that you need to use along with the ALT key.

It’s important to note that this method only works if your keyboard has a number pad, so it may not be suitable for all users.

However, if you have a number pad, this technique can be a quick and easy way to insert a wide variety of symbols, from check marks and cross marks to special characters like the copyright symbol (Alt+0169).

Additionally, using this keyboard shortcut can help you count check marks efficiently.

Utilizing CHAR and UNICHAR Functions

The CHAR and UNICHAR functions in Excel can also be used to insert symbols based on their character codes.

These functions allow you to insert symbols by specifying their ASCII or Unicode character codes, providing more control over the symbols you insert and enabling you to use symbols that may not be available through other methods.

To use the CHAR or UNICHAR function, type “=CHAR(character_code)” or “=UNICHAR(unicode_code)” in a cell, replacing “character_code” or “unicode_code” with the appropriate value for the symbol you want to insert.

Press Enter, and the symbol will appear in the cell.

For example, to insert the copyright symbol, you can use the below formula.


To find the correct code for a specific symbol, you can refer to a character code list.

The CHAR and UNICHAR functions offer a flexible and powerful way to insert symbols in Excel, allowing you to easily incorporate a wide variety of symbols into your work.

Formatting and Customizing Symbols in Excel

Once you’ve inserted symbols into your Excel worksheets, you may want to format and customize them to match the overall design and theme of your worksheet.

Proper formatting of symbols can make your data more visually appealing and easier to understand, ensuring that your symbols effectively convey the intended information.

The following subsections will provide tips and tricks for symbol formatting and customization in Excel. These techniques include:

  • Font size adjustments
  • Color adjustments
  • Style adjustments
  • Conditional formatting application

These tips will help you design visually captivating worksheets that effectively convey your data.

Adjusting Font Size, Color, and Style

To adjust the font size, color, and style of symbols in Excel, simply select the cell containing the symbol and use the formatting options available in the Home tab.

Formatting options in the ribbon for symbols in Excel

For example, you can increase or decrease the font size, change the font color to a vibrant green, or make the symbol bold to emphasize its importance.

By customizing the appearance of your symbols, you can ensure that they are consistent with the overall design and theme of your worksheet, creating a cohesive and professional look.

Adjusting the font size, color, and style of your symbols can also help to draw attention to important data points and make your spreadsheets more visually appealing and engaging.

Importing Symbols from Google Sheets into Excel

If you’re collaborating with colleagues who use Google Sheets, you might find yourself needing to import symbols from their spreadsheets into Excel.

Fortunately, importing symbols from Google Sheets to Excel is a straightforward process, allowing for seamless data integration and collaboration between the two platforms.

To import symbols from Google Sheets, simply follow these steps:

  1. Copy the desired symbols from the Google Sheets document.
  2. Paste them into the appropriate cells in your Excel worksheet.
  3. The symbols should retain their formatting and appearance, ensuring that your data remains consistent and visually appealing.

By understanding how to import symbols from Google Sheets, you can collaborate more effectively with your team and ensure that your data remains accurate and up-to-date.

Insert Symbols Not Working in Excel

If the “Insert Symbol” feature in Excel is not working properly, there could be several potential reasons for this issue.

Here are some common causes and troubleshooting steps:

  • Software Glitch: Sometimes, temporary glitches in the software can cause features to stop working. Restarting Excel or your computer can often resolve these issues.
  • Keyboard Shortcut Conflicts: If you’re using a keyboard shortcut to insert a symbol, ensure that the shortcut isn’t being used for another function or by another program.
  • Corrupted Excel File: If the problem is specific to one Excel file, it might be corrupted. Try opening a different Excel file to see if the issue persists. If it’s file-specific, consider repairing or recreating the file.
  • Outdated Excel Version: Using an outdated version of Excel can lead to compatibility issues and bugs. Ensure your Excel application is updated to the latest version.
  • Add-ins Interference: Some Excel add-ins might interfere with normal functions. Try disabling add-ins to see if that resolves the issue.
  • Language and Keyboard Settings: Incorrect language or keyboard settings can affect the insertion of certain symbols. Check your system’s language and keyboard settings to ensure they are configured correctly.
  • Operating System Issues: Problems with your operating system can affect applications like Excel. Ensure your OS is up to date and consider running system diagnostics.
  • User Account Issues: Sometimes, user account settings or restrictions can limit functionality in Excel. Try using Excel with a different user account or with elevated permissions.
  • Damaged Excel Installation: A damaged or incomplete installation of Excel could cause features to malfunction. Reinstalling Excel might resolve this issue.
  • Font Limitations: Some symbols may not be available in all fonts. Ensure you are using a font that supports the symbol you’re trying to insert.

I hope you found this article useful. It covers some of the common methods you can use to insert symbols in Excel (such as keyboard shortcuts, using the Symbol dialog box, and using CHAR and UNICHAR functions).

Other Excel articles you may also like:

Common Symbols in Excel:

I am a huge fan of Microsoft Excel and love sharing my knowledge through articles and tutorials. I work as a business analyst and use Microsoft Excel extensively in my daily tasks. My aim is to help you unleash the full potential of Excel and become a data-slaying wizard yourself.