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How to insert Special Characters (Cheat Sheet Download)

Have you ever wanted to display a character in Excel which isn’t on the keyboard?  Maybe you’ve wanted to use a ÷ or maybe an ü, but you just weren’t able to find it.  A standard keyboard can produce 96 characters, but lots fonts include up to 255 characters.  Most countries have different keyboard layouts to each other and can access different characters directly from the keyboard.  It does not matter which keyboard we have, as all of those characters are available to us, we just need to learn where to find them.

Copy and paste from the internet

Just type a description of the symbol you want into your favorite search engine.  For example type “divide symbol” and click search (see my example search below).  Highlight the symbol, then copy and paste it into Excel.

Screen Shot of Google with Divide Symbol highlighted

Insert the Symbol through the menu

We can access special characters in Excel by going to Insert -> Symbol

Excel - Insert Symbol

Search through the available characters and click Insert.

Using the ALT code

To insert the characters simply hold down the ALT key and type in the code, then release the ALT key. For example character 36 (the $ symbol) would become ALT + 36.

For Excel users, ALT + 7 is very useful as this will insert a bullet point into the cell.

If you have a suppliers, customers or employees whose names include special characters, those characters are available too.

ALT codes for foreign characters

Too many codes to remember?

Are you thinking you’ve got to remember 255 character codes? That sounds like a few too many, doesn’t it?  The good news is that you don’t have to; you can use my Print & Pin Special Characters Cheat Sheet.  Print it out and pin it to any flat surface near your desk.  Now you can refer to it anytime you need.


Download the example file

I recommend you download the example file for this post.  Then you’ll be able to work along with examples and see the solution in action, plus the file will be useful for future reference.

Download the Cheat Sheet

I recommend you download the example file for this post.  Then you’ll be able to work along with examples and see the solution in action, plus the file will be useful for future reference.

Download Icon
Download the file: Print & Pin Special Characters Cheat Sheet

Please note

Unfortunately, these codes are only available to those with a separate numeric keypad on their keyboard.  Some laptops have additional keys to which may activate a section of the keyboard to operate as if it were a numeric keypad – that will work too, but depends on the model you’ve got.  For all other users the copy and paste from the internet or Insert -> Symbol methods are the best options.

Also, note that not all characters exist in every font set and some font sets may contain different variations to those in the Print & Pin Special Characters Cheat Sheet.

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About the author

Hey, I’m Mark, and I run Excel Off The Grid.

My parents tell me that at the age of 7 I declared I was going to become a qualified accountant. I was either psychic or had no imagination, as that is exactly what happened. However, it wasn't until I was 35 that my journey really began.

In 2015, I started a new job, for which I was regularly working after 10pm. As a result, I rarely saw my children during the week. So, I started searching for the secrets to automating Excel. I discovered that by building a small number of simple tools, I could combine them together in different ways to automate nearly all my regular tasks. This meant I could work less hours (and I got pay raises!). Today, I teach these techniques to other professionals in our training program so they too can spend less time at work (and more time with their children and doing the things they love).

Do you need help adapting this post to your needs?

I'm guessing the examples in this post don't exactly match your situation. We all use Excel differently, so it's impossible to write a post that will meet everybody's needs. By taking the time to understand the techniques and principles in this post (and elsewhere on this site), you should be able to adapt it to your needs.

But, if you're still struggling you should:

  1. Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic. You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
  2. Ask the 'Excel Ninja' in your office. It's amazing what things other people know.
  3. Ask a question in a forum like Mr Excel, or the Microsoft Answers Community. Remember, the people on these forums are generally giving their time for free. So take care to craft your question, make sure it's clear and concise.  List all the things you've tried, and provide screenshots, code segments and example workbooks.
  4. Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner. They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.

What next?
Don't go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid.  Check out the latest posts:

One thought on “How to insert Special Characters (Cheat Sheet Download)

  1. iji says:

    This article brings back memories. 😆
    I still remember by heart Alt+0223, Alt+0228, Alt+0246, Alt+0252 and changing their case for typing German words. Yup, I was also pressing the zero.

    I used a cheat sheet like this in late ’90s when I didn’t have a connection to internet and I didn’t know there was an awesome thing called IME and the only program (I had) able to display Japanese characters was the internet browser. Only… my cheat sheet was with double bytes meaning I was obtaining hiragana, katakana, and kanji using two Alt+code for each character. In 2020 I’m using Word and HEX code plus Alt+X or Excel and complex formulas and UDFs to retrieve the damn characters when I can’t have the IME. One can never stop a committed person. :))

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