Insert special characters with ‘Alt codes’
You can also insert symbols and special characters into Excel using your keyboard’s number pad.
To do so, hold down the Alt key then enter the corresponding Alt character code on the number pad.
Here are a few examples of Alt code shortcut keys:
- Alt + 1 inserts a smiley symbol ☺
- Alt + 3 inserts a heart symbol ♥
If you do not have a number pad, you can input Alt codes using the Windows on-screen keyboard.
How to insert a special character in Excel using the on-screen keyboard:
1. Press the Windows key + Ctrl + O to open the on-screen keyboard. ⌨️
The mouse is used to press keys on the on-screen keyboard. This means that you cannot press and hold Alt along with the digits on the on-screen keyboard’s number pad.
Instead, you can lock the Alt key using Sticky Keys.
2. Press the Shift five times on your physical keyboard to turn on Sticky Keys.
3. Now you can lock the Alt key by pressing Alt on your physical keyboard twice.
4. With Alt locked, enter the Alt character code on the number pad of the on-screen keyboard.
For example, you can try entering 0-1-6-9. Alt + 0169 corresponds to the copyright symbol ©.
5. Press Alt again to release the Alt lock. Excel will then insert the symbol.
You can browse through Alt character code lists available online like this one.
Make sure to type the code on the number pad exactly as shown. If an Alt character code has leading zeros, type the zeros in the number pad as well. Otherwise, the result may be different.
You can also search for Alt character codes in the Windows Character Map:
To open it:
Press the Windows key + R > Type “charmap” > Hit Enter
The keyboard shortcut or Alt code of the selected character is shown at the bottom of the Character Map window.
You can also use the Search field to find a special character using keywords. 🔍
Great work so far!
Now you know two different ways of inserting symbols into Excel.
As you can see, it is fast and easy to use Alt shortcut keys. But this is only efficient if you have a number pad with your keyboard.
As for the built-in Symbols menu, you have to scroll through hundreds of available symbols. This can be tedious and dizzying 😵 if you don’t already know where to look.
So, this brings us to the easiest way of inserting symbols into Excel.