Ninja Excel BlogExcel Conditional FormattingCheck symbol in Excel: learn to make attractive lists

Check symbol in Excel: learn to make attractive lists

Check list

Key information

He SYMBOL CHECK In Excel, in its most basic form, it is simply another text character. It can also be used in conjunction with other Excel functions, such as the IF function or conditional formatting. In this post you can learn each of its variations. 

The basics

What is it for? Checks or approvals allow you to provide visual content to any information you have on your form. For example, you can mark tasks on a list as completed, or verify that a condition has been met. 

What is its advantage? The most attractive thing about the check symbol in Excel is that it is very easy to apply, since it is simply a text character. Furthermore, as it can be combined with other functions, it gives it great versatility to be applied according to what you want to achieve in your spreadsheet. 

Tip Ninja: If you want to insert a check box, that is, an object that transforms into a check when you click, we recommend this other post.

Alternative 1: Insert check symbol in Excel as text

Step 1: Select the cells where you want to insert the check symbols. 

Step 2: Head to the Source section of the Home tab and select Wingdings 2.

Step 3: Go to the cell where you want to check, and simply type a capital P (Caps key + P or SHIFT + P). This way you can easily insert the check symbol in Excel.

If you look closely, you can see that in the functions box there is a capital P, but a check is displayed in the cell. That easy!

Ninja Tip: To make a cross or an X, you simply type a capital O instead of a P, and that's it!

Alternative 2: Insert as symbol

A more intuitive way may be to add a check using the Excel symbols tool. It is especially useful if you want to use other types of checks and xs symbols, or you do not know which letter represents the check.

Step 1: Click the Insert tab on the toolbar, and then go to the rightmost section, where Symbols appears. 

When you click on the section, the option to add an equation or a symbol will open, so you must click on Symbol.

Step 2: A window will open that will have two tabs: Symbols and Special Characters. In the symbols tab, you will find several options including the check, the x, and other alternatives to choose from. Make sure you have the Wingdings 2 Font selected.

Step 3: Select the check or X symbol that best suits you and then click Insert.

You will see that the approval symbol you chose remained in the cell where you were located.

Add formatting

Now we will see how to highlight these symbols and make them look more friendly to the eye. Like any text content, you can indicate a color and alignment.

Step 1: Select the cells with checks (CTRL + click).

Step 2: Go to the Font section of the Home tab, and change the font color to whatever you want. In this case, a green check.

Step 3: Repeat the process for the Xs, in another color. Select the cells (CTRL + click).

Step 4: Now choose the color. 

Ready! The result is a list with green checks and red Xs. 

Combining with the IF function

A convenient way to use check symbols is with the IF function.

Consider the table shown in the image. The seller receives a commission only if his sales exceed 50 thousand. Therefore, we want to generate an indicator that shows whether the seller is entitled to commission.

As we reviewed, a capital P indicates a check and a capital O indicates an X. Additionally, we will rely on the information provided in column C to determine whether or not it is necessary to give a commission.

Step 1: Go to cell 3 of column D, which is the commission payment. The function would be:

Ninja Tip: Note that both the P and the O, being text elements, need to be enclosed in quotes. If you selected a number or a cell, you would not need to add them. 

That is, if what is in cell C3 is greater than 50 thousand, write a P, otherwise write an O.

One mistake you should avoid is forgetting to format the Wingdings 2 font to the cells where you want to enter the checks. In that case, Excel would give us the following result: 

We can verify that by not using the Windgings 2 font, Excel does not recognize the letter P as a check symbol. 

Step 2: Select the appropriate font for that cell, repeating Step 2 of the first alternative in this post.

Now yes! Since the amount in cell C3 is greater than 50 thousand, the function correctly returned a check. All that remains is to replicate the process for the other cells.

Step 3: Position yourself in the lower right corner of the cell until your mouse pointer turns into a black cross.

Step 4: Double right click to replicate the formula downwards. Note that not only the function is copied, but also the text formatting of the cell with the Font selected. 

Using conditional formatting

Does the IF function not suit you? Would you prefer it to be in a more user-friendly format automatically? Excel conditional formatting allows you to achieve this. 

Let's say you would like to have green checks and red Xs when sales were greater than 50 thousand.

Step 1: Go to cell D3, where you would like the first check symbol to appear. Tell that cell to have the same content as the one on its left, that is:

Drag down to copy the format to the cells in column D, placing your mouse in the corner of the cell and double-clicking.

In this way, now column D has the same as column C. This preliminary step is necessary so that these values conform to the condition that we define later. 

Step 2: On the Home tab, in the Styles section, click Conditional Formatting and then New Rule.

Step 3: A new window will open, in which you must select to display the Format Style list, and then select Icon Set. 

 Step 4: Under Icon Style, select the set with checks and crosses. 

Step 5: Set the condition according to what you need. In this case, we want to see a check when the sale is greater than 50 thousand.

And an X when it is less than 50 thousand. Note that you can establish three conditions. We will let the other limit be zero, since there can be no sales less than this. That is, we will have an X when the sale is less than 50 thousand and also when it is less than zero (although this is an impossible case!).

Step 6: Before finishing, finally make sure that the Type is Number, and that you have selected the “Show icon only” box. This will not show the number and only the checks or xs. Finally, click OK. 

You've made it! Now your Conditional Formatting column will perfectly fit the sales content and show when a commission needs to be given or not.

As we saw, there are multiple ways to add a check symbol. Each one adjusts to different needs depending on what you want to achieve, from the most basic to more complex forms. 

Carolina is a doctoral student in Economics at Yale University and a Business Engineer at the Catholic University of Chile. She works with databases doing applied research on education, gender and labor market issues.

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