Symbols and Special Characters in Microsoft Word
  • 3-minute read
  • 27th March 2019

Symbols and Special Characters in Microsoft Word

Your average keyboard has enough letters, numbers, and punctuation marks for all your day-to-day typing needs. But what if you need symbols or special characters that aren’t on your keyboard?

Well, in Microsoft Word, you have three main options:

  1. Use the Symbol menu.
  2. Learn some ASCII codes.
  3. Use Microsoft Word’s special character shortcuts.

In the rest of this post, we’ll look at how to do each of these in your writing. Watch the video or read the post below to get started:






1. Using the Symbol Menu

To see the Symbol menu in Microsoft Word, go to Insert > Symbols on the ribbon and click the Symbol button (or Insert > Advanced Symbol > Symbols in the menu system in Word for Mac).

Quick access symbols.
Quick access symbols.

This will open a quick access menu of 20 frequently used symbols to pick from. However, you can also access the full range of special characters in Microsoft Word as follows:

  • Go to Insert > Symbols and click Symbol to open the menu.
  • Click More Symbols… to open a new window.
  • Scroll through until you find the symbol you want to use.
  • Click Insert to add the symbol to your document.
The full range of special characters in Microsoft Word.
The full range of special characters in Microsoft Word.

The symbol will then appear in your document at your cursor. Microsoft Word will also add it to the quick access menu, saving your time if you need to use the same symbol again.

2. ASCII Codes

ASCII codes each indicate a different symbol, so you can use them to add special characters to a document quickly via the numeric keypad:

  • Learn or look up the correct ASCII code for the symbol(s) you need.
  • Turn on Num Lock on your keyboard to activate the numeric keypad.
  • Hold down the Alt key and type the required code.

The corresponding symbol will then appear at your cursor position.

3. Shortcuts for Special Characters

For some special characters, your simplest option is to let Microsoft Word do the hard work! There are, for example, shortcuts available for the following common symbols:

Special Character

Shortcut

Autocorrect Option

Trademark symbol (™)

Ctrl + Alt + T

Write “TM” in parentheses

Registered trademark symbol (®)

Ctrl + Alt + R

“R” in parentheses

Copyright symbol (©)

Ctrl + Alt + C

“C” in parentheses

Closed Ellipsis (…)

Ctrl + Alt + .

Three periods without spaces

Euro (€)

Ctrl + Alt + E

“E” in parentheses

You’ll notice we’ve included an “autocorrect” version for each symbol above. In these cases, Microsoft Word will automatically correct the specified text to create the symbol.

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For example, to add a trademark symbol to a document, we have two options:

  1. Hold down Ctrl + Alt + T at the same time.
  2. Write “(TM)” and let Microsoft Word change this to the symbol.

These shortcuts are very quick and simple, so it is worth memorizing them if you use any of these symbols frequently. Similar shortcuts are also available for accented letters.

Comments (19)
Ruth Vaes
6th June 2020 at 20:27
Can you help me eliminate the symbol that looks like an upside down P from a document?
    Proofed
    8th June 2020 at 10:35
    Hi, Ruth. If you are trying to remove a symbol from a document, you shouldn't need the symbols menu. Just open the search field (e.g., with Ctrl + F), then copy and paste the symbol into the search field. You will then be able to go through and delete or change each one.
EH
11th August 2020 at 01:19
Is there no way to universally turn OFF these types of symbols and special characters? Clients send me MS Word files with scads of them, all of which need to be stripped before I can use the files as intended. Some of them--such as 'fi' being turned into the ligature version thereof--are almost undetectable in Word, but when I use that file as intended, they cause a very visible error. In other words, searching for each possible symbol included is just not a practical option; I need to be able to turn it all off!
    Proofed
    11th August 2020 at 10:10
    I don't think there is a way to turn off special characters in Word, nor to search for special characters in general rather than specific symbols. Changing to a monospaced font, such as Courier, might help you spot ligatures, though, as the lack of spacing should make them stand out (or you could adjust the spacing between characters manually, which should have a similar effect). Then you can correct any ligatures you spot before switching back to the original font. Not an ideal solution, I'm afraid, but I hope it helps at least a little!
Amar
17th June 2021 at 16:31
Can you define symbol like :)
    Proofed
    18th June 2021 at 08:53
    Do you mean emoji? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emoji
Anwar Zainal Abidin
18th July 2021 at 09:52
In my Microsoft Word I failed to find more symbols. The symbols available are limited to the basic and when I click for "more symbols" it only gives me the first page and no more. What shall I do to solve this problem?
    Proofed
    19th July 2021 at 09:51
    Hi, Anwar. Is it possible that changing the option in the "Font" dropdown would provide more options? If not, I'm afraid I'm not sure what to suggest, but you might find more luck on a Microsoft support forum.
William Greenberg
23rd July 2021 at 06:59
Word 365 ELIMINATED the symbol drop-down menu. The only symbols shown when you select "ADVANCED SYMBOL" on the INSERT menu are the paltry few Anwar mentioned. So Word 365 is less functional by far than Word 2007. But it costs a helluva lot more!
    Proofed
    23rd July 2021 at 08:56
    Ah, that's useful to know, William, thanks. Hopefully the ASCII codes still work at least!
Mell
7th September 2021 at 23:55
I've come across a symbol that pops up it's two carrots >> when I try to put in quotation marks. Do you have any idea on how to fix this, or what causes it?
    Proofed
    8th September 2021 at 09:07
    Hi, Mell. Is it possible you have your MS Office or keyboard language set to a language that uses guillemets? If so, you might need to check the settings for those (or the default input language settings for your operating system). Hope that helps.
Anthony
18th January 2022 at 15:38
When using WORD a graphic - symbol - thing often appears on the screen. It consists of an up triangle with a dot under it and a down triangle under the dot. (I tried pasting a wingdings version here without success) It doesn't seem to be useful or harmful I'd just like to know what it is and how to switch it off.
    Proofed
    18th January 2022 at 16:30
    Hi, Anthony. Is it just the icon that appears or does it affect how you scroll through the document as well? It sounds like you're describing the auto-scroll icon (see here: https://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001495.htm), which is usually activated by clicking the mouse wheel on a blank part of the screen. It should then disappear if you just left click somewhere else. If that isn't the case, then you might need to try the Microsoft support forums: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/
      Anthony
      19th January 2022 at 19:42
      Yes it is the Auto-scroll icon. Many thanks for your help.
Jean
30th January 2022 at 21:41
This symbol ¤ pops up when I turn on paragraph marking. I can't delete it and it interferes with my spacing. What does it mean and how can I get rid of it? Thank you.
    Proofed
    31st January 2022 at 11:14
    Hi, Jean. Microsoft Word uses the ¤ symbol as a hidden character to mark the ends of cells in tables. They will only be visible when you have the option to show hidden characters turned on, so all you need to do to remove them is turn off paragraph marking, at which point you should be free to work without them getting in the way (you can't delete them otherwise without deleting cells from the table or tables they appear in).
FullStack Novice
30th March 2022 at 12:37
Hi, I want to insert a symbol or an icon (a thumb up ).How do I insert it?
    Proofed
    30th March 2022 at 16:01
    Hi there. You can find a thumbs up symbol if you use the symbols menu described in this post and select "Wingdings" as the font.

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