The Amazing Hidden Icon/Symbol Font Inside Excel (Not Wingdings!)
Why Icon Fonts?
Icon Fonts are fantastic in comparison to icon shapes because we can reference them in our formulas and cell values. This can be very handy from a UI perspective as we can migrate our spreadsheets from relying on words to using symbols to quickly give our models inputs.
Typically when you are trying to get creative and add icons to your spreadsheet, you reference a font like WingDings or WebDings.
The downside to the “Dings” font family is that the icons are assigned to letters instead of being characters themselves. This means someone needs to know which letter on their keyboard equates to the symbol they want to display (check out my font cheat sheet for these). Not ideal, but I’ve been able to provide instructions within my spreadsheet in the past to ensure users know what they need to input.
Did you know there is another font that has an amazing volume of icons that put the “Dings” font family to shame? Better yet, the icons are their own characters! Let’s dive into this hidden gem that very few Excel users know about.
Introducing The Segoe UI Font Family
There are a number of different Segoe UI fonts that come pre-installed with Windows. There are two fonts specifically that have a massive amount of extra symbols associated with them compared to normal fonts. These two font names are:
- Segoe UI Symbol
- Segoe UI Emoji
How To Access The Font Icons
To collect to icons you want to use in your spreadsheet, you will need to find them in the Symbols Dialog box and insert them into a cell. Since the icons are their own characters, you cannot simply access them via your keyboard like Webdings (unless you want to memorize a bunch of 5-6 digit character codes).
To get started, click on an empty cell and go to the Insert tab in your Excel Ribbon and click the Symbol Button (below the Equations button in the Symbols group).
Next, you will want to pick your desired Segoe UI font name from the Font drop-down. You’ll instantly see a bunch of icons available for you to insert. There is also a subset drop-down if you want to browse certain collections of characters within the font.
Here are a few examples of what you’ll have access to:
To send the icon to your spreadsheet, simply select one and click the Insert button. You can insert however many icons you which if you need/want multiple designs.
Once you are done inserting, you should see all the symbols in the formula bar. These icons may appear different in the actual spreadsheet cell depending on the font name the cell is set to. Simply change the font name to Segoe UI Symbol and the icons should appear the same as the Insert Symbol dialog box you were browsing.
Next is the fun part!
You can select individual icons from the formula and copy them to your clipboard. From there, you can paste the icons to cells, shapes, data validation lists, conditional format rules, or even use them as part of your cell formulas. This really will expand how creative you can get in your spreadsheets!
Other Icon Fonts?
While I haven’t been able to find any other Icon Fonts that come standard in Windows, there are a few that you can download from the internet with my all-time favorite downloadable icon font being Font Awesome.
Since downloadable fonts do not come installed natively through the Windows OS, any user wishing to view the icons used within the spreadsheet has to have the same icon font downloaded to their PC as well. This is where using non-native fonts can be tricky depending on your situation.
I Hope This Helped!
Hopefully, I was able to explain how you can use the Segoe UI fonts to expand how you use icon characters within your spreadsheets. If you have any questions about this technique or suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know in the comments section below.
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Chris is a finance professional and Excel MVP recognized by Microsoft since 2016. With his expertise, he founded TheSpreadsheetGuru blog to help fellow Excel users, where he shares his vast creative solutions & expertise. In addition, he has developed over 7 widely-used Excel Add-ins that have been embraced by individuals and companies worldwide.