Five keyboard shortcuts for inserting arrows into a Word document

Susan Harkins shows you five keyboard shortcuts that allow you to quickly insert arrows into a Word document.

You probably know about Word's line-producing shortcuts. Simply type three of the following characters to generate different horizontal lines: hyphen, underscore, asterisk, tilde, equal signs, plus signs. For instructions, read Add horizontal lines to a Word document. What you might not know is that you can enter arrows the same way:

  • To insert a right arrow, type two hyphens and a greater than sign: -->
  • To insert a bold right arrow, type two equals signs and a greater than sign: ==>
  • To insert a left arrow, type a less than sign and two hyphens: <--
  • To insert a bold left arrow, type a less than sign and two equals signs: <==
  • To insert a double arrow, type a less than sign, one equals sign, and a greater than sign: <=>

You can also use the Symbols option on the Insert tab in Word 2010 and 2007 if you need a specific type of arrow - there are many more to offer. If you just need an arrow, this keyboard method is quick and easy.

If you suspect that this capability is part of Word's AutoCorrect feature, you're right. That means, you can control it. To modify or disable this feature, do the following:

  1. Click the File tab and choose Options under Help. In Word 2007, Click the Office button and then click Word Options. Choose Proofing in the left tab. In Word 2003, choose Options from the Tools menu, and skip to step 4.
  2. Click Proofing in the left pane.
  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button in the AutoCorrect Options section.
  4. In the Replace Text As You Type list, you'll find these options. You can delete them or modify them. If you disable the feature by unchecking the Replace Text As You Type option, you're disabling the entire list, not just the arrows.
  5. Click OK twice.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


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they are doing away with the num-pads on newer smaller laptops... no? mine is 2009 version and it doesn't have this option.


To use ALT+ASCII codes on a laptop, most laptops have a number pad in the regular keyboard that's activated by the Function+Num Lock key or some similar combination. Just don't forget to reset the function, especially if using someone else's laptop, or they may wonder why the J key is putting out ones, and the U is printing fours.


If you know the ASCII code, which is generally easy enough to look up, you can hold down ALT while typing in the code. For example, ALT+ 26 makes a right arrow ???.


Many are now using notebooks/netbooks without a dedicated numberpad (my last ASUS G2S was one such example)... ASCII code doesn't work off the top-set number keys. You can still use the Character Map, but quite so streamlined or time-efficient.

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