Bullet Points in Excel: 6 Easy Methods (+Download)

bullet, points, excel
Bullet Points in Excel

No matter if you use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook or OneNote: You can easily insert bullet points and create bullet point lists. In Excel you can’t. But there are some simple workarounds. In this article, you learn 6 methods for inserting bullet points in Excel. 

Introduction

Like said in the introduction, there is no very smooth way to create bullet point lists in Excel. Either the methods require several steps or the result just doesn’t look very nice. In this article, you learn 6 methods of inserting bullets in Excel – either directly into the Excel cell or to a text box. In the summary section of this article, you can download all 6 methods in a comprehensive Excel workbook.

Methods

Method 1: Alt + 7, Alt + 9 or Alt + 0149

bullet, point, points, bullets, excel
Insert the bullet symbol with the keyboard shortcut Alt + 7 (on the number pad).

The first method is usually also the fastest: Insert the bullet symbol with a keyboard shortcut. In order to achieve this, enter a cell (for example by pressing F2 on the keyboard) and press Alt + 7 on the number pad.

  • Use Alt + 7 for the “normal” bullets •.
  • Press Alt + 9 for empty bullets ○.
  • Use Alt + 0149 for “normal” bullets •.

Please note:

  • The keyboard shortcut only works with the number pad. Not with the number keys above the normal letter keys.
  • Press and hold the Alt key while pressing the number keys consecutively.
  • Text cells with line breaks don’t look very nice because the second line doesn’t have the same indentation as the first line.
  • As you can see on the screenshot above, you can also have several bullets within one cell. Add line breaks by pressing Alt + Enter on the keyboard.

Method 2: Insert the bullet symbol from “Symbols”

symbol, insert, bullet, point, excel
Insert a bullet character from the “Symbol” feature in Excel.

The second method is quite similar to our first method above. But instead of using a keyboard shortcut, you manually insert the bullet character.

  1. Click on “Symbol” on the right-hand side of the “Insert” ribbon.
  2. Select the character you’d like to use as the bullet symbol.
  3. Press Insert.

Please note:

  • Instead of the conventional bullets, you could also insert any other type, for example empty bullets, square bullets or empty square bullets for to-do lists.
  • Like with method 1 above, multi-line texts don’t look very well because the text has no indentation.

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Method 3: Copy and paste the bullet character (from here)

This method is again very similar to methods 1 and 2 above. Instead of inserting bullet character with a keyboard shortcut or from the “Symbol” menu, you could just copy and paste it from there. Please feel free to copy any of the characters below.

• ● ◦ ▪ □ ♥ ─ − → ►

Method 4: Use a custom number format

custom, number, format, bullet, point, list
Use a custom number format in order to create a bullet point list.

If you don’t want to insert the bullet character for every cell again you could just define a custom number format which adds the bullet character automatically.

  • In order to achieve this, select a cell or a cell range and press Ctrl + 1 on the keyboard.
  • Go to the “Number” tab and select “Custom” on the left-hand side.
  • Write • @  into the field for “Type”.
  • Confirm with “OK”.

Please note:

  • You can copy and paste this format using the “Format Painter”.
  • If you want to know more about custom number format, please refer to our comprehensive guide.

Method 5: Add an additional column

bullet, points, additional column, excel
Use an additional column for inserting bullet points.

The fifth method for inserting bullet points usually looks most tidy. The idea is to insert an additional column containing the bullets. Please take a look at the example on the right-hand side.

  • Column B contains the bullet points whereas column C contains the text cells without any bullet symbols. Please refer to the methods 1 to 3 in order to insert a bullet symbol.
  • The formatting of column B is
    • Align top.
    • Align right.
    • Remove the border between columns B and C.

Please note:

  • This method is especially nice if your text cells have line breaks.
  • Setting up an additional column usually takes a little more work than the other methods mentioned above.


Method 6: Bullets in text boxes and charts

excel, bullets, bullet poins, text, box
You can add bullets to text boxes in Excel easily.

If you don’t want to add bullet points inside an Excel cell but to a text box in Excel instead, you can use the built-in function.

  1. Insert a text box either into your chart or the worksheet itself. In order to achieve this, click on “Insert” and then “Shapes”. Select the text box and draw it onto the screen.
  2. Right click into the new text box.
  3. Click on “Bullets”. If you want to change the type of bullets, click on the small right arrow.

That’s it. Now you can start typing your text.

Summary

In this article, you learn how to insert bullets to text cells and text boxes in Excel. The first 4 methods introduced above insert the bullet symbol into your Excel cell. Method 5 uses an additional column which has the advantage, the multi-line cells have a nice line break. The sixth method deals with bullets in text boxes.

Method 1Method 2Method 3Method 4Method 5Method 6
NameAlt + 7, Alt + 9 or Alt + 0149Insert the bullet symbol from “Symbols”Copy and paste the bullet character (from here)Use a custom number formatAdd an additional columnBullet points in text boxes and charts
DescriptionInsert the bullet symbolInsert the bullet symbolInsert the bullet symbolInsert the bullet symbolUse a helper column for the bullet symbolInsert a text box and right click into it. Then click on “Bullets”
Works on multi-line cellsNoNoNoNoYesYes

Please feel free to download the example workbook here. It contains 6 detail worksheets (for each method one worksheet) plus the summary table.

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Henrik Schiffner is a freelance business consultant and software developer. He lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. Besides being an Excel enthusiast he loves photography and sports.

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