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. You can find AutoCorrect settings on the File tab, under Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect options. Here, we can see that there are a few symbols already handled by AutoCorrect: copyright, registered, and trademark. This means that we can add a copyright symbol by typing a lowercase “c” in parentheses and AutoCorrect will add the proper character for us. Let’s try it. We can do the same thing for trademark. 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.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.