Using Bullet Points in Excel

Harkem (one of my 12 fans) wrote me recently and asked:

“How can I use bullet points in Excel? Much of my PowerPoint presentations are made of Excel ranges that are copied and pasted as pictures. I remove the gridlines to make it look seamless in PowerPoint. I’d like to be able to use bullet points in Excel to enhance the illusion.”

Well Harkem, you’ve come to the right place. I happen to know the answer.


Let’s say I want to add bullet points to this list of topics. I could manually type in some asterisks or dashes, but that would be tedious and ugly.

There is a better way.


Step 1: Find a symbol and insert somewhere in your workbook

The first step is to find the symbol that would make an appropriate bullet point. Here I’ll choose a diamond.

After you choose the symbol, insert it into any empty cell in your worksheet.


Step 2: Copy the symbol

Highlight the inserted symbol and press Ctrl+C on the keyboard to copy the symboal.


Step 3: Add a Custom Number Format to the target text

Highlight the range of cells you would like the bullet points to be applied, right-click, and then choose Format Cells.

The Format Cells dialog box, you’ll add your own custom format.

Here, entered the diamond by pasting the copied symbol. I followed it with a space, then the “at” symbol (@).


After you confirm the custom number format, you’re bullet point will be applied to your text.

The benefit of using this technique is that you can edit the text and Excel will automatically place your bullet point.

Plus, you can copy the format to any range of cells to apply the same bullet points.

I’ve gone crazy and added all kinds of bullets to my list.  I’m living the dream.


There you go Harkem. Now send me some cookies or bacon.

31 thoughts on “Using Bullet Points in Excel

  1. JP

    Alt-0149 does the same thing, and might be easier to remember. You just select a cell (don’t enter it by pressing F2) and type Alt-0149. When you let go of the Alt key, the character appears, and you can continue editing the cell.

  2. datapig

    I can’t seem to figure out how to trigger the numeric 7 on my laptop.

    But I still prefer the number formatting trick though.

    I can’t imagine entering Alt+7 or Alt+0149 before each text entry. I would much rather enter them all, then apply bullets at once.

    Also, with a number format, you can copy the bullet rule to many ranges. With Alt+7, you’re basically stuck re-entering the bullets for each new cell/range.

  3. Jayson

    @ datapig
    laptop should have a function key option to enable a 10-key of sorts. That should do the trick, but add that hassle for every entry…

  4. Ivan

    I only use Alt+7 when I need a quick bullet. You can also use Alt+Enter to add a carriage return and then add a second bullet within the same cell. For fancier formatting I would use your methods.

    By the way, I can never get any of the Alt+ methods to work on my laptop they only work on my desktop or on my laptop if it is in the docking station and hooked up to a keyboard.

  5. Ivan

    One other thing I just remembered, you can use Custom Number Formatting like in your version but use Alt+7 (or Alt-0149) @ to get a bullet as part of your number format.

  6. Sumit

    Superb! Now to go forth and ‘bulletize’ every excel file I can find. 🙂

    Thanks for the excellent tip!


  7. Les

    When i try to paste my symbol into the open format cells custom box it won’t let me. The paste option seems to be disabled the moment i right-click to get into the custom format box. I tried opening the clipboard to paste the symbol that way and even though i can see it in the clipboard list, once the format cells box is open, i can’t have access to it.


  8. Derek

    If you can’t paste the symbol, use the ALT+7 trick to enter the bullet inside the custom text entry box. It works there too.

  9. Blayne

    I am now trying to get a webding symbol (the camera, character #0181) inserted with this method, and can’t get it to work.

    I am trying to insert this symbol after a formula.

    Any ideas?

  10. Jory

    Some got crazy with the bullet points in an Excel spreadsheet I’m supposed to work on. I need them removed – please see below. These bad boys are all in one cell. (like this all through the spreadsheet! Can any give me a “quick fix?” – Thanks!
    • Professional Grade Chrome Vanadium Shaft
    • Triple Chrome Plated Finish Resists Corrosion
    • Square Mechanic-Style Handle for Maximum Torque
    • Magnetized Vapor-Blasted Tips

  11. Debbie

    I know this thread was from quite some time ago but hopefully you will get this ….

    Is there a way to format cells to where – when you type in a certain person’s first name, it will insert something entirely different?

    This has seemed to have happened on a computer at work. In Excel, when I type in “Martha” …
    then tab, or otherwise leave that cell, Martha changes to “•Cool”

    If I type in anyone elses name – it stays that name. But if I type in “Martha”….. it changes to “•Cool” … with the bullet and the word Cool.

    I think someone (Martha) is messing with me – lol. They probably know a “secret” format to do this. I am trying to figure it out without having to actually ask Matha.

    Hope you can help!

  12. datapig

    Congratulations on being a victim of an April fools trick.
    It sounds like Martha added some VBA code to your workbook.
    Do you enable macros when opening the workbook?

    Try click Alt+F11 and double clicking each sheet in the Project explorer on the left.
    You should see a macro that contains “SheetChange” in the name.

  13. Debbie

    There is no “options” under “File”

    I found “options” under “tools” but then no “proofing” …..?

  14. Debbie

    Ok ~ I found autocorrect under Tools.

    I think you are right Dick, I tried it on my computer at home and I am pretty sure that is how it was done.

    I will still check this on the computer at work on Monday and let you know!


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