Arrows are a great way to show trends and movements in your data set. It also helps make your data easier to comprehend (especially when presenting your data).
While you have the arrow keys on your keyboard, you cannot use them to insert the arrow symbol in a cell in Excel.
But worry not… there are multiple ways you can get the different kinds of arrows in Excel (such as arrow symbols, shapes, and icons).
In this article, I will show you some easy ways to insert arrow symbols in cells in Excel.
Different Types of Arrows in Excel
Before I show you some ways to insert arrows in Excel, let me quickly explain the different kinds of arrows.
Arrow symbols are like text characters that you can insert in a cell in Excel. These can be inserted using the symbol dialog box, keyboard shortcuts, or formulas.
Below are the arrow symbols that you can use in Excel:
If you are working with shapes in Excel and want to use arrows, you can use the arrow shape.
This could be useful when working with flow charts or org charts where you want to show the direction of flow with an arrow.
Excel allows you to insert line arrows and block arrows as shapes.
Arrow Icons Using Conditional Formatting
You can also insert arrow icons through Conditional Formatting, where pre-defined rules are used to analyze the value in the cell and then apply an arrow.
For example, if I am looking at the difference between the scores of students in Exam 1 and Exam 2, I can use a green arrow if the student’s score has increased and a red arrow if the score difference is negative.
I find these Conditional Formatting arrows quite helpful when creating dashboards or when I want to make my data-heavy reports less boring.
Now that you know about different arrow types in Excel, let’s see how to insert these in Excel.
Insert Arrow Symbols in Excel
Let’s look at some ways to insert the arrow symbols in Excel:
Copy and Paste the Arrow Symbol into Excel
If you want to get the arrow symbol in a cell, the easiest way would be to copy it from somewhere else and paste it into a cell in Excel.
Below, I have provided all the symbol arrows that you can copy and paste into a cell in Excel.
→ ↑ ↓ ← ↔ ↕ ↖ ↗ ↘ ↙
Keyboard Shortcut to Insert Arrow Symbol in Excel
Below are the keyboard shortcuts you can use to insert the different arrow symbols in Excel:
|ALT + 24
|ALT + 25
|ALT + 26
|ALT + 27
To use these shortcuts, hold the ALT key and then press the numbers one after the other.
For these shortcuts to work, you need to use the numeric keypad on your keyboard. Also, the Num lock on your keyboard needs to be enabled.
These ALT keyboard shortcuts would work in Excel as well as other office applications such as MS Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. It would also work in Notepad and other applications.
Formula to Get the Arrow Symbol
Below are some formulas you can use to get the arrow symbol as the result of the formula.
The benefit of using a formula is that you can combine it with other formulas to enhance your analysis.
For example, below, I have the difference in the scores of students in two exams in column D.
This is done using a simple subtraction formula in column D:
I can make this more visual by using the formula below instead, which would show an upward arrow if the score difference is positive and a downward arrow if the score difference is negative.
Inserting Arrow Symbol Using the Symbol Dialog Box
Below are the steps you can use to insert the Arrow symbol in Excel:
- Select the cell where you want to get the arrow symbol.
- Click on the Insert tab in the ribbon.
- Click the Symbol icon (which is in the Symbols group). This will open the Symbol dialog box.
- In the Symbol dialog box, select the Arrows option from the Subset drop-down.
- Select the arrow icon you want to insert
- Click the Insert button.
If you want to insert more than one arrow symbol or different kinds of arrows, you will have to repeat the same process of selecting the arrow in the symbol dialog box and clicking the insert button
Insert Arrow Shapes in Excel
Below are the steps to insert arrow shapes in Excel:
- Click the Insert tab in the ribbon
- In the Illustrations group, click on the Shapes option. This will show all the shapes that you can insert in Excel.
- Click on the arrow you want to insert. This could be the arrows in the Line category or the arrows in the Block Arrows category.
- Once you have selected the arrow you want to insert, bring the cursor anywhere in the worksheet area and then click anywhere. This will insert the arrow.
Once you have the arrow shape inserted in the worksheet, you can move it, change its rotation, and format it, such as changing the color or size of it.
Insert Arrows Using Conditional Formatting
Arrows inserted using Conditional Formatting work a bit differently as they are dependent on the value of the cell.
Let’s say I have the below data set where I have this course of students in two different exams and the difference in scores in column D. Now I can use conditional formatting to show arrows that would visibly tell me whether the difference in this course is positive or negative.
Here are the steps to get the arrows based on the cell value:
- Select the cells based on which you want to insert the arrows
- Click the Home tab
- Click on the Conditional Formatting option in the Styles group.
- Hover the cursor over the Icon Sets option. This will show you all the icon sets available for you to use
- Select any of the arrow icon sets to apply to your data set. For this example, I will select the 3 Arrows (Colored) option.
Below is the result that I got where arrows are inserted in column D based on the difference in exam scores.
Note that this may not exactly be what you want. In the above example, Excel considered the highest and lowest values in the difference column, created three tiers of scores, and assigned the arrow accordingly.
If you want to customize it, for example, have the green upward arrow first for more than zero and the red downward arrow for a score less than zero, you can do that as well.
To do this, click on Conditional Formatting in the ribbon, click on the Icon Sets, and then click on More Options. This will open the New Formatting Rule dialog box, where you can make the customization.
For example, below are the customizations I made:
And this is the result I got.
Note: There’s also an option to Show icon only, and if checked, it would hide the values in the cell and only show you the arrows
So, these are some methods you can use to insert arrows in Excel. You can insert an arrow symbol in a cell, which is considered like a text character, insert the arrow shape illustration, or use conditional formatting to insert arrow icons based on the cell values.
I hope you found this article helpful.
If you know of any other method to insert arrows in Excel or you have any feedback or suggestions for me, please do let me know in the comments section
Other Excel symbol articles you may also like:
- Insert Symbols in Excel?
- Add Bullet Points in Excel
- Insert Checkmark (Tick Mark) in Excel
- Insert X-Bar Symbol in Excel
- Less Than Or Equal To Symbol in Excel
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