Insert Symbols: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

In your documents, sometimes you have to include symbols other than the standard letters, numbers and characters that appear on the keyboard.

MS Word has many interesting symbols for you to use: everyday items such as the degree symbol (98.6°), Greek letters (ΦΒΚ or ψ), letters needed in foreign words (such as résumé or Senõr), and even cute little pictures (such as  and §).

You must use these symbols when they're needed in the text, but the pictures, sometimes called "dingbats," can be used for decoration.

To begin, click to the insertion point where you want the symbol to appear.

  1. Choose Insert | Symbol and click the Symbol tab to see the dialog box.
  2. If necessary, choose (normal text) for the Font.
  3. Click a symbol to enlarge it so you can see it better.
  4. Click Insert to place the selected symbol into your document at the insertion point. Add more symbols if you want, or click Close to return to the document.
  5. To access other collections of letters and symbols, change the font. You'll find lots of little pictures under such font names as Monotype Sorts, Webdings and Wingdings.

Scroll through the list of symbols. You'll see these items:

  • Basic characters
  • Accents, umlauts, cedillas, and other diacritical marks
  • Greek letters
  • Cyrillic letters
  • Hebrew characters
  • Arabic letters
  • Arrow symbols

The new symbol is inserted into the document at the insertion point. If you insert several characters at once, you may need to cut and paste to move them where they belong.

For alphabetical characters from even more exotic languages, choose the font Lucida Unicode in the Symbol dialog box.

Some special characters are so common that Word places them into a tab of the Symbol dialog box. In addition, you can use AutoCorrect to make Word substitute a given symbol for certain keystrokes. To do so:

  1. Choose Insert | Symbol and click the Special Characters tab.
  2. Click the item you want to insert and then click Insert.
  3. To customize AutoCorrect so that the symbol automatically replaces certain keystrokes, click the AutoCorrect button. You'll notice that AutoCorrect already has several of these special characters. When you type two hyphens -- like this -- they automatically turn into a single, elongated dash.

The special character will be inserted into the document at the insertion point.

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