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)

1

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Controlling Date Formats in a Mail Merge

One of the data sources that Word allows you to use for your mail merges is an Excel worksheet. You may get unexpected ...

Discover More

Converting Text Into a Table

Need a block of text to appear in a table? Word can do the conversion for you very quickly.

Discover More

Converting from Relative to Absolute

Addresses used in a formula can be either relative or absolute. If you need to switch between the two types of ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Deleting Rows Containing Struck-Through Text

Excel makes it easy to delete rows in a worksheet, but it can be more difficult to figure how to delete rows if you only ...

Discover More

Changes in Font Size when Copying

Have you ever copied information from one worksheet to another, only to have the information you paste not look the way ...

Discover More

Easily Adding Blank Rows

Want to add a bunch of blank rows to your data and have those rows interspersed among your existing rows? Here's a quick ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 4?

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.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.