How to Insert Arrows in Excel (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will show how to insert arrows in Excel in different ways and give you step-by-step instructions. You will also learn how to add arrows to column and line charts. Besides, you will learn about curved arrows too.

Excel provides you with multiple options to insert arrows in a worksheet. The most frequently used ones are using the symbol option, shape option, conditional formatting, etc.

Column charts are a good way to show data. By adding arrows, you can point out important things or trends, making your charts look better and giving more information.

Line charts are great for tracking trends over time. With arrows, you can highlight specific points or show changes in direction, which makes your line charts more effective.

Excel also lets you add curved arrows, which are more dynamic and interesting. They can show relationships or flow in your data, as diagrams or process flows.

Overview of Arrows in Excel

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How to Insert Arrows in Excel: 6 Easy Methods

1. Insert Arrows Manually from the Symbol Dialog Box

The easiest way to insert arrows is from the Symbol option. Suppose, we have the sales amount of some products for the month of January and February.

  • Using the following formula, we will calculate the differences between January and February in column E.

Calculating difference between sales

  • Then, we will go to the Insert tab >> select Symbol.

Getting available symbols

  • After that, we will insert the arrows based on the sales value.
  • For a positive difference, we will paste an upward arrow (↑); for a negative one, we will paste a downward arrow (↓).
  • For example, sales of refrigerators increased by $559 in February. So, we will have an upward arrow in F5.

Inserting arrows from symbols

  • In a similar fashion, we will insert the arrows in the rest of the cells.

Applying arrows using symbol option

2. Use Copy and Paste Operations to Insert Arrows in Excel

We can use the copy and paste operations to insert arrows in Excel.

  • First, we will insert arrows from the list of symbols. These will be placed separately from the main dataset.
  • We have inserted the upward arrow (↑) in cell H5 and then the downward arrow (↓) in cell H6.

Add arrows for copy

  • Next, we will copy the symbols and paste them into the respective cells.

Paste the arrows

3. Insert Block Arrows from the Shapes Option

You can also insert arrows from the available Shapes in Excel. This is similar to the one using the Symbols.

  • Go to the Insert tab >> select Shapes >> choose an arrow.

Getting available shapes in Exc

  • Excel will insert an arrow. I have changed the color from the Fill Color section for better visualization.

Changing color of arrow

  • Insert the rest of the arrows in a similar fashion. We set red as the color of the down arrow.

Inserting arrows from Shapes

4. Use Conditional Formatting to Insert Arrows in Excel

Conditional Formatting is another useful tool for inserting meaningful arrows into your Excel data.

  • I have calculated the difference twice and placed the second result in a separate column.
  • Select the range F5:F13 >> go to the Home tab >> select Conditional Formatting >> select New Rule.

Activate conditional formatt

  • Then, choose the Format Style and Icon Style >> check the ‘Show Icon Only’ box >> select the Value and Type >> click OK.

Setting conditions in con

  • Excel will insert the arrows.

Applying conditional formatting

The rule states that when you have a positive number, Excel will show a green upward arrow. On the other hand, for a negative number, Excel will show a red downward arrow.

Read More: Up and Down Arrows in Excel Using Conditional Formatting

5. Use Special Fonts to Insert Arrows

You can use special fonts to insert arrows in Excel. This method uses a combination of the IF and CHAR functions.

  • Use the following formula on cell F5 and apply AutoFill up to cell F13.

Insert Characters

Excel returns some characters. Do not worry about them for now.

  • Change the font to Wingdings to get the arrows.

Convert to Wingdings font

6. Insert Arrows Using Custom Format Option

You can customize formatting to insert arrows in an Excel file.

  • Select the range F5:F13 where you want to insert arrows.
  • Go to the Home tab >> choose the icon shown at the bottom of the Number group >> select Custom formatting >> then use the following format and press OK.
[Green] $0 ↑;[Red] -$0 ↓

Change format

  • Excel will do the rest.

Apply new customized format

How to Insert Arrows in Column Chart

You can insert arrows in a column chart to look sharp and attractive. For example, I will insert the upward arrow in this column chart.

  • First, I have inserted the arrow from the Shape option.

Use arrow in column chart

  • Then, I simply copied the shape and pasted them into the columns of the chart. Excel will change the shape of the columns.

Change shape of column

How to Insert Arrows into a Line Chart

Just like the column chart, we can insert arrows in a line chart.

  • Select the line to activate only a unit portion >> right-click and select Format Data Point.

Insert arrow in line chart

  • Then, from the Fill & Line section to change the color of the chart.
  • Select the desired arrow from End Arrow Type section.

Customize the line

  • Excel will insert arrows in each unit line.

Apply changes in a line chart

How to Insert Curved Arrows

  • First, insert a curved arrow from the Shapes option.

Get curved arrows

  • Then, place it correctly. That’s it.

Place curved arrows correctly

Read More: Add Curved Arrow

Uses of Arrows in Excel

Arrows in Excel have multiple practical uses:

  • Sorting: Sort data in ascending or descending order.
  • Conditional Formatting: Use arrows to indicate trends or variances.
  • Data Analysis: Trace dependents or precedents to understand cell relationships.
  • Navigation: Scroll through cells horizontally or vertically.
  • Charting: Add arrows to highlight significant points.

These are some common uses of arrows in Excel.

Things to Remember

  • Be careful when positioning the arrows.
  • Be consistent with colors, line styles, and thicknesses of arrows.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I customize the appearance of arrows in Excel?

Ans: Yes, you can customize the appearance of arrows by changing their color, line style, thickness, and size. Use the formatting options available in the “Format” or “Shape Format” tab to make desired modifications.

2. Can I remove arrows in Excel after inserting them?

Ans: Yes, you can remove arrows in Excel. Simply select the arrow shape you want to delete and press the “Delete” or “Backspace” key, or right-click on the arrow and choose the “Delete” option from the context menu.

3. How can I use arrows for sorting data in Excel?

Ans: To sort data using arrows, click on the arrow icon in the column header of the data you want to sort. Choose either “Sort A to Z” or “Sort Z to A” from the drop-down menu to arrange the data in ascending or descending order, respectively.

Arrows in Excel: Knowledge Hub


This article explains some methods of inserting arrows in Excel along with their uses. By following these instructions, you can use arrows in column charts, line charts, and even curved arrows. Knowing how to add and remove arrows will help you create clear visuals and organize your worksheets. I hope it helps you.

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Akib Bin Rashid
Akib Bin Rashid

AKIB BIN RASHID, a materials and metallurgical engineer, is passionate about delving into Excel and VBA programming. To him, programming is a valuable time-saving tool for managing data, files, and internet-related tasks. Proficient in MS Office, AutoCAD, Excel, and VBA, he goes beyond the fundamentals. Holding a B.Sc in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, MD AKIB has transitioned into a content development role. Specializing in creating technical content centred around Excel and... Read Full Bio

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