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

Using the SYMBOL Field

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 9, 2016)

Word includes a wide range of fields you can use to perform special functions within your documents. One such field is the Symbol field. This field allows you to insert virtually any character you can think of in your documents.

In effect, the Symbol field duplicates the functionality provided by using the Symbol dialog box to insert a symbol in your document. The difference between the two is that when you use the Symbol dialog box, the actual symbol character is inserted in your document. When you use the Symbol field, the actual character is not inserted. Instead, the field is maintained in your document and simply replaced with the symbol character when the document is printed or the field is calculated. (This is a fine distinction, to be sure, but it does make a difference in how Word operates behind the scenes.)

The syntax for the Symbol field is as follows:

{ Symbol 123 }

Note that the field name is followed by a number. This number represents the ANSI value of the character you want inserted. You can use either the decimal value (as shown here) or the hexadecimal value, which is signified by prefacing the number with 0x, as in 0xA7. You can also use the actual character, within quotes, if desired.

There are other switches you can use with the Symbol field, as well. You can use the \f switch to specify the name of the font in which the symbol should be rendered. You can also use the \s switch to specify a point size for rendering the symbol. For instance, if you wanted to use a 17-point Webdings font, you could put the field together as follows:

{ SYMBOL 100 \f "webdings" \s 17 }

When you use a larger point size, it is possible for the symbol to mess up the line spacing (vertical spacing) of your paragraph. This can ruin an otherwise perfect layout. If you want to force Word to ignore any spacing dictated by the symbol size, you can add the \h switch to the field. The result is that as the symbol size increases, it starts to encroach on the line directly above, and possibly overwriting it.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (553) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Using the SYMBOL Field.

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

Correcting a Capital Mistake

As you are entering data in a worksheet, Excel can monitor what you type and make corrections for common mistakes. One such ...

Discover More

Putting Headers and Footers on Multiple Worksheets

You can easily create headers and footers for multiple worksheets by working with a selection set of the worksheets you want ...

Discover More

Dates with Periods

You may want Excel to format your dates using a pattern it doesn't normally use—such as using periods instead of ...

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 WordTips (menu)

Entering Calculations in a Form Field

One of the many uses for Word is to create forms that can be easily filled in by other people. This is made possible by the ...

Discover More

Inserting the Date and Time

Inserting a date and time in your document is a snap using the tools provided in Word. Just pick the command, then specify ...

Discover More

Updating a Field in a Text Box

If you put a field into a text box, you might be surprised to find that it doesn't update when you try to update all your ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, 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 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 Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, 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.