I receive a lot of requests for help with setting up files/charts (most often in Excel). Occasionally I think people try to challenge me on purpose by setting certain restrictions.
In one case, I was given a table of weekly numbers and asked to visually highlight if one week was higher or lower than the previous week. Conditional Formatting is probably an obvious way to do this, but of course, the person requesting this doesn’t like conditional formatting because they are less comfortable with it than with formulas, so I had to use a formula.
The agreed symbols to highlight if one week was up, down or the same as the prior week were
These 3 are all wingdings which I decided to use in a formula as a solution to the request.
Wingdings are a series of dingbat fonts which render letters as a variety of symbols. For the above symbols:
- The arrow pointing down is the Wingdings3 for lower case letter “q”
- The arrow pointing up is the Wingdings3 for lower case letter “p”
- The arrows pointing left and right are actually two Wingdings3, for lower case “t” and “u”
My end result was:
I used an IF formula to compare this week’s value to last week’s and if it is higher then the result is “p”, if it is lower the result is “q” and if it hasn’t changed, the result is “tu”. Below is how the formula and results initially look.
The last step is to change the font of the formula results to “Wingdings3” and we get the final file
How do I know what wingdings relate to what symbol?
By trial and error – I set the font to Wingdings and type out the alphabet and numbers, first in lower case and upper case. I note any symbols that I might use again and remember the letter/key for them. Then I change the font type of the alphabet and numbers I’ve already typed to Wingdings2 and repeat for all symbolic fonts.
Another symbol I use often is a tick mark which is lower case “a” in the Marlett font.
If you do choose to go down the road of using the symbolic fonts in your files, you will find your own preferences that you end up using repeatedly. There are also symbols that can be inserted into files, but personally I sometimes find using Wingdings or Marlett faster if I already know the relevant key.