Create a Drop Down List With Symbols

To make data entry easier, you can create a drop down list in an Excel cell, using data validation.


This works well with a list of words, but the list doesn't show symbols if you create the list in a font such as Webdings. In the example below, I entered 5, 0, and 6 in cells B2:B4 and formatted the cells with Webdings.

The drop down list shows the number values, instead of the formatted symbols.


Use Built-In Symbols

You can’t create a drop down list of symbols based on formatted cells, but you can use some well-hidden symbols instead.

In the screen shot below, cells B2:B4 are formatted in Tahoma font, which is the same font used in the drop down list.


  • To create the Up Arrow in B2, I pressed the Alt key, and typed 30  on the number keypad.
    • NOTE: You have to use the number keypad – not the numbers at the top of the keyboard.
  • Then, use the same technique in cells B3 and B4, with numbers 29 and 31.

Watch the Video

This video shows you the steps for creating a drop down list, to show a selection of symbols.

Download the Sample File

To download the sample file, please visit my Contextures website: Data Validation Tips and Quirks.


3 comments to Create a Drop Down List With Symbols

  • John

    Thanks for this tip Debra. I have always been amazed that Microsoft never allowed dropdowns of other fonts like a tick in a validation dropdown would be so useful in many situations. This symbol "√" is the closest I have found. A Tick and a cross (OK X will do for this) is not much to ask is it?

  • Helen

    Hi Debra,

    I have tried using the 'ALT 251' in my cell so that I can get a 'tick' showing in my drop down list - but this does not work. I'm working on a file that is an Excel 2013 workbook.

    Would you let me know how this can be done (or if it can not be done).

    Kind Regards

  • VM

    Thank You very much. It worked for me. Initially I am trying with Arial font, it did not worked. But when I use Tahoma font on the cell and used the trick ( holding ALT+ typing 251 from the number keypad) worked great.

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