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How to Type Common Math Symbols on a Windows Keyboard

Paul studied algebra, geometry, and trigonometry in high school. He also learned calculus in college and taught junior high math overseas.

Common Math Symbols

Common Math Symbols

Typing Math Symbols on a Windows Keyboard

Knowing how to type common math symbols on a Windows keyboard is very useful for students, teachers, businesspersons, and consumers.

For example, if you are a student or teacher, you will probably have to type the following formulae and identities:

1. A=πr² — formula for the area of a circle

2. C=πd — formula for the circumference of a circle

3. a²+b²=c² — Pythagorean theorem to solve for the three sides of a triangle

4. F°=1.8C+32° — formula for converting degrees Fahrenheit to degrees Centigrade

5. π≈3.14 — the numerical approximation of pi

6. a²–b²=(a–b)(a+b)

7. ∟=90°

8. √16=4

Businesspersons and consumers will need to type some of these symbols that aren't on a common Windows keyboard:

1. ± — plus or minus

2. ¼ — one-fourth

3. ½ — one-half

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4. ¾ — three-fourths

5. × — multiplication

6. ÷ — division

7. ¢ — cent

8. £ — pound sterling

This article will introduce and explain three ways to type common math symbols on a Windows keyboard. They include:

1. using the character map application program on a computer

2. using alt-codes and

3. using features on Microsoft word

Each way is explained in this article.

Using the Character Map Application Program

Character Map is a Microsoft Windows utility used to view characters in any installed font, check what keyboard input (Alt-code) is used to enter these characters and copy characters to a clipboard instead of typing them.

On Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7, the utility is found in the All Programs → Accessories → Systems Tools → Character Map in the Start Menu.


How to Use the Character Map Program

To use the character map program follow these steps:

1. Open Start. Do this by clicking the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of your computer screen.

2. In the Search Programs and Files box type in character map or charmap.

3. Click on the character map to execute the program.

4. After the program comes up, click the box for the advanced view.

5. Search for your desired symbol among all of the symbols in the character map.

6. If you cannot find the symbol, type the name of the character in the characters to the copy box.

7. If your character is highlighted, double-click and select followed by clicking copy

8. Go to the place where you want to type your symbol.

9. Paste your symbol by clicking in the text field and then pressing CTLR + V.

How to Use Character Map

Using Alt Codes

Characters on personal computers that do not have a dedicated key may be entered using the Alt Numpad input method or Alt code.

You do this by pressing and holding the Alt key while typing a number identifying the character. This must be done by using a keyboard's numeric keys on the right side of the keyboard. If the numeric keys are in any other place, you can not enter the alt code.

For example, by holding down the Alt key and entering "0176," you can type the degree symbol. All math symbol characters have Alt codes.

Alt-Codes for Common Math Symbols

Math SymbolDescriptionAlt-Code






Alt-45 or Alt-8722


times or multiply



division or divided by


not equal to



less than



greater than


less than or equal to

Alt-243 or Alt-8804

greater than or equal to

Alt-242 or Alt-8805


plus or minus

Alt-241 or Alt-0177

approximately equal to








square root

Alt-251 or Alt-8730


superscript 2 or squared

Alt-253 or Alt-0178


superscript 3 or cubed






Alt-236 or Alt-8734




similar to or tilde


perpendicular with



vertical line or bar




right arrow


right angle

Alt-28 or Alt-8735



Alt-172 or Alt-0188



Alt-171 or Alt-0189








Using Alt-Codes for Math Symbols

How to Insert Math Symbols Using Microsoft Word

It is very easy to use Microsoft Word to insert math symbols into documents.

To do this, first, click Insert. Next, click Symbol, and then More Symbol. You will then see a group of symbols with a Font pull-down on the left and a Symbol Set pull-down menu on the right. Use Normal Text for Font. Within Symbol Set, you can search for basic math, Greek letters, operators, and more. After you find a symbol, select it and then insert it into your document.

To insert Superscript and Subscript, click on the X2 and X2 icons on the menu line.

How to Insert Math Symbols Using Microsoft Word


  • Wikipedia

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Paul Richard Kuehn

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