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: Inserting a Radical Symbol.

Inserting a Radical Symbol

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 19, 2018)

6

A radical is a mathematical symbol used to denote "roots" of a value. The most common radical is used to denote a square root. The typical method of inserting a radical is to hold down the Alt key as you type 251 on the numeric keypad. Release the Alt key, and the symbol appears.

Of course, the appearance of the radical (or even whether it appears at all) depends on the font used in the cell. The Alt+251 method works for most normal fonts, but some fonts may not include the radical symbol (in which case it won't appear) or may have the symbol mapped to a different character in the font. In that case, the best way to insert the symbol is to use the Symbol dialog box to search through the desired font and find the radical.

You can also use the Windows Character Map program to find the radical, copy it to the Clipboard, and then paste it into Excel.

All of the methods described so far are great if the only thing you want in the cell is the radical. You can, however, format a cell so that the radical symbol is displayed just to the left of whatever value is in the cell. Perhaps the easiest way to apply this format to a cell is to use a macro, as shown here:

Sub Radical()
    ActiveCell.NumberFormat = ChrW(8730) & "General"
End Sub

Select the cell you want to format, then run the macro. (You can see how this custom format is handled by Excel if you run the macro and then display the Format Cells dialog box.)

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12104) 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: Inserting a Radical Symbol.

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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Comments

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What is four more than 2?

2016-06-28 12:18:09

Scott Renz


I see. Thanks, Alan.


2016-06-27 19:40:49

Mal

Another one I use is the degree sign for degrees Celsius (temperature). Press Alt+248


2016-06-26 09:33:58

Alan

Scott, Arial Unicode MS has 221A for square root, 221B for a cube root and 221C for a fourth root.


2016-02-08 12:45:27

Scott Renz

How do I get a 3 in the "v" of the "√" to make it a cube root radical?


2016-02-06 16:53:14

Gary Delp

I tried the macro using the Arial font. (and then scanning through all of the fonts on my machine.) As you suggested, I looked at the resulting custom format, and if the radical glyph is imaged as "R"
The the custom format is "RGeneral". Unfortunately, this does not display in the cell, nor does it display in the custom format popup. It shows up in the custom format itself, but not in the cell. I also tried "R" General and other variations. Then I tried R@ and it worked. [remember in these examples R is the radical sign ChrW(8730) ]


2016-02-06 12:20:19

Willy Vanhaelen

Alt+251 doesn't work on my system but Excel provides a simple solution:

- Click on the Insert tab of the ribbon and select Symbol
- In the dialog that pops up, enter 221A in the 'Character code:' box
- Click [Insert]

If you need it again, you can simply select it from the 'Recently used symbols:' list.


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