5 Simple Methods for Adding the Square Root Symbol in ExcelEasy Step-by-Step Guides

Written By:
Adiste Mae

The Microsoft Office package contains various software programs, each with its own specific function and application.

One such program is MS Word, which is mainly used for word-processing tasks. On the other hand, MS Excel is focused on working with spreadsheets.

However, despite the different purposes of these programs, there may be situations where you need to use features from one program to the other.

For example, you may need to use spreadsheet features in MS Word or text formatting in MS Excel.

In such cases, symbols and special font features may not be commonly used in spreadsheets but may be necessary on certain occasions.

The square root notation is a commonly used mathematical symbol.

Even though the square root symbol may not be immediately visible in the Microsoft Excel menu, there are several methods for adding it to your worksheet.

Exploring the Potential Applications for the Square Root Symbol in MS Excel

It is true that the square root symbol is not as frequently used as the SQRT function for finding square roots.

However, there may be situations where you want to display both the square root symbol and the calculated value of the square root side by side.

Check the illustration below, similar to the way it is presented in the Standard Deviation column:

Now, let us explore the various ways to insert the square root symbol in Excel.

Here are five straightforward options for inserting the square root symbol in MS Excel.

Inserting Symbols Using a Keyboard Shortcut

A convenient and easy way to insert a square root symbol is through the use of a keyboard shortcut.

However, to use this method, you will need to have a numeric keypad.

If your device does not have one, such as many laptops, you can also use any of the other methods outlined later in the guide.

The following is the keyboard shortcut for inserting a square root symbol in a cell in Excel:


To use this method, hold down the ALT key while pressing the numbers 2, 5, and 1 on the numeric keypad.

The square root symbol will then be inserted.

It is important to note that this method will not work if you try to use the numbers on the main keyboard and not the numeric keypad.

Inserting Symbols Using the Symbol Feature

MS Office has a useful built-in feature that allows you to easily insert commonly used symbols via the Symbol dialog box.

This feature is also present in MS Excel.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use the Symbol dialog box to insert the square root symbol:

  1. Select the cell in which you would like to insert the symbol.
  2. From the Insert Ribbon, click on the Symbol option. This will open the Symbol dialog box.
  3. From the Subset options drop-down, select Mathematical Operations. This will limit the list of symbols to only those used for mathematical operations, allowing you to quickly locate the square root symbol among them.
  4. Once you’ve located the square root symbol in the list, double-click on it. This will insert the square root symbol in the chosen cell.

Please note that if multiple cells are selected in the worksheet, the symbol will only be inserted into the active cell.

Another option is to use the Character code to quickly find the symbol. Simply select Unicode(hex) from the drop-down and enter 221A (as shown below).

It is important to note that once the symbol has been inserted, it will be added to the Recently Used Symbols list at the bottom of the Symbol dialog box.

This feature allows for easier access to the symbol for future use as it eliminates the need for searching for it again.

Inserting the Symbol using the UNICHAR Function

The UNICHAR function in MS Excel is a built-in function that returns the character corresponding to a specified decimal value.

Each character has a numerical value called an ASCII code. For example, the ASCII code for the character ‘A’ is 65.

if you enter =UNICHAR(65) into a cell and hit the enter key, it will return A as the result of the formula.

In the same way, there is a numerical value that corresponds to a mathematical function like a square root. Its value is 8730.

To obtain the square root symbol in a cell, use the following formula and press enter.


It is easy to combine the square root symbol with other formulas or cell references.

For instance, to show it with the value in cell B3, you can type:


Follow it by entering the return key.

When you want to add the square root symbol to multiple values at once, this method can be quite useful.

For example, when you have a column of values, you can select the format handle in the bottom right corner of the cell, and drag it down to apply it to all the values in the column.

Inserting Symbol using Copy-Paste

An alternate way to add the square root symbol to the spreadsheet is by copying and pasting it, and then formatting and using it as necessary, which avoids the need of navigating menus or trying to recall shortcuts.

Another way to add the square root symbol is by copying and pasting it from an existing Excel workbook, or any Microsoft Word or PowerPoint file.

Alter the Custom Number Format

When you add the square root symbol in a cell, the cell becomes text-based, which means that numbers following the symbol can’t be used for calculations as Excel now recognizes it as text.

However, to display the square root symbol in a cell or a range of cells while keeping the cell contents as numbers, you can apply the Custom Format method.

This approach will display the square root symbol in the cell, but the actual value in the cell would remain as the number without the square root symbol.

The following are the steps to use Custom Number formatting to insert a square root symbol in a cell in Excel:

  1. To add a square root symbol to a cell or a set of cells in Excel, right-click on the targeted cell(s).
  2. From the options that appear, select “Format Cells.” This will open the Format Cells dialog box. Another way to open the dialog box is by using the keyboard shortcut Control + 1.
  3. From the Category pane, select the “Custom” option. This will reveal the Type field on the right side of the dialog box.
  4. In the blank field (Type field), enter the text: √General.
  5. Click the OK button.

You will find that all the selected cells are automatically formatted with the square root symbol.

To confirm if the actual value of the cell is changed or not, you can select any one of the cells and examine the formula bar, it should display the actual value of the cell without the square root symbol.

You are done!

These are 5 of the best ways to add the square root symbol in your Excel spreadsheet.

I hope you found this Excel tutorial helpful.