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

Printing Field Codes

Field codes allow dynamic information to be included in documents and can be a great boon. At some point you may want to ...

Discover More

Changing Toolbar Location

If you don't like where your toolbars are located, just move them around.

Discover More

Using Dynamic Chart Titles

Want the title of your chart to change based upon what is placed in a worksheet cell? It's easy; just add a formula to ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Sequentially Inputting Information

When entering data in a worksheet, you may only want to add information to the cells in a particular range. You can ...

Discover More

Character Limits for Cells

Excel places limits on how much information you can enter into a cell and how much of that information it will display. ...

Discover More

Entering the Current Time

Need to enter the current time into a cell? It's easy to do using this keyboard shortcut. The shortcut is a handy one to ...

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 five minus 3?

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.