Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Symbols Convert to Numbers in Excel.

Symbols Convert to Numbers in Excel

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 3, 2019)

Alan wants to enter a symbol into a cell. (In this case he is entering a tick mark.) When he does this using Insert | Symbol, 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 (3871) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) 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

Specifying an Index Page-Range Separator

When generating an index, Word normally uses a dash to indicate page ranges. You can change the character used for these ...

Discover More

Thoughts and Ideas on Significant Digits in Excel

Ruminations and reflections about significant digits in Excel. Includes examples of how significant digits can affect the ...

Discover More

Table Header Rows after a Manual Page Break

Insert a manual page break into the middle of a table, and you may find that subsequent pages of the table don't always ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Understanding Names

Excel provides the ability to define names that refer to cells or ranges of cells. These can then be used in your ...

Discover More

Checking for a Value in a Cell

Need to figure out if a cell contains a number so that your formula makes sense? (Perhaps it would return an error if the ...

Discover More

Shifting Objects Off a Sheet

One day you are just editing your worksheet like you normally do, then you see an error that says "Cannot shift object ...

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 nine more than 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon 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.