Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Symbols Convert to Numbers in Excel.

Symbols Convert to Numbers in Excel

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 4, 2021)

3

Alan wants to enter a symbol into a cell. (In this case he is entering a tick mark.) When he does this using the Symbol dialog box, the symbol is placed into the cell properly, but as soon as Alan presses Enter to move to another cell, the symbol converts to a number. Alan, of course, wonders why this is happening.

It could be that the cell contents are being modified by some event-driven macro. For instance, there could be a macro that is triggered each time a change is made in the workbook and the macro is making the change to what you are entering. You would only find out if this is the case by doing some digging in the workbook to see if there are any macros there and checking out what they do.

The more likely scenario, however, is that you have a formatting or font problem in the cell where you are entering the symbol. When you use the Symbol dialog box, you are inserting a character into your worksheet. How the character appears depends on the way in which the cell is formatted into which the symbol is being inserted.

Like any other character in a worksheet, a symbol inserted using the Symbol dialog box has a character code associated with it. The code indicates which character from a particular font is displayed. If that code, for instance, is 49 and the font is Wingdings, then the character will look like an open file folder. The same character code in most any other font will produce a number, in this case the number 1.

Thus, if your cell is formatted using the Calibri typeface, then the character codes inserted into the cell will use the characters from that typeface. If you want to use a different typeface, such as Wingdings or some other symbol font for your symbols, then you may need to format the cell to use that font.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11805) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Symbols Convert to Numbers in Excel.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is four less than 5?

2021-12-06 17:35:26

Roy

Nor in formula RESULTS. Just in simple text.


2021-12-06 17:34:24

Roy

You can format a single character, more than one, or all of them, individually or in groups, in TEXT. Not in formulas, in TEXT.

But text is clearly what's being described here, so...

No matter the general font for a cell, when inserting the character/s for which another font is needed, add a space after inserting them so your general font is easily used for the rest of what goes in the cell, then highlight your inserted other-font characters and assign them the font they come from by right-clocking and selecting their font in the way you normally might. Jump over the space you typed and continue on. If you don't desire the space to be kept, you can delete it any time AFTER you type that next character after it.

Of course, if that text is ALL that goes in the cell, you can just change the general font for the cell.

However, if you do that and later delete the special character/s by pressing Delete on the cell, it's original general font will not be restored. Only formatting the character/s, not the whole cell, does not have that issue. So act accordingly with the future use of the cell in mind. Like always, right? Hmm... right...


2021-02-04 17:36:53

David A Czuba

To prevent the cell font (format) from being changed, unlock the cell and protect the sheet. Right-click the sheet tab. By default, formatting cannot be changed unless the tick the box Format cells is checked. This allows the cell contents to change, but not the font.


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