How to Make a Degree Sign on Your Keyboard

The degree symbol or sign (°) is commonly used when writing about the weather or entering mathematical formulas. But since the degree symbol isn't a standard character on your physical keyboard, you can't just type it like a normal keyboard character. Here are two ways to enter a degree symbol in Windows and OS X.

Special Characters Tools

In both Windows and OS X, you can open a tool that allows you to select special characters, including the degree symbol .

Windows: Character Map

You can insert a degree symbol in Windows with the Character Map. Although some applications such as Microsoft Office have controls or menu selections with names such as Insert Special Character that open the Character Map, you can launch the Character Map to insert the degree symbol in any application.

Windows 8

  1. Move your mouse pointer to the upper right or lower right corner of the screen, to bring up the Charms menu.
  2. Click Search in the Charms menu.
  3. Type character map in the Search box.
  4. Click the Character Map icon in the Search results.
The Charms menu appears on the right side of the screen; the Search icon is the top item in the menu
The Search item in the Charms menu

Windows 7

  1. Click on the Start menu (the Windows icon on your Task Bar).
  2. Select All Programs.
  3. Select Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools.
  4. Select Character Map.
Character Map is located within the System Tools subfolder of the Accessories folder.
Character Map in the Start menu

The Character Map opens and displays a table of characters. To insert the degree symbol:

  1. Select the degree symbol (°) from the table.
  2. Press the Select button.
  3. Press the Copy button.
  4. Close the Character Map.

Type Ctrl-V to copy the degree symbol at your cursor location.

When you select the degree symbol in the Character Map dialog, a pop-up shows the symbol magnified, and you can then press the Select and Copy buttons.
The degree symbol in the Character Map dialog.

OS X: Emoji & Symbols Menu

You can insert the degree symbol in OS X with the Emoji & Symbols menu (previously called the Special Characters menu). The Emoji & Symbols Menu is part of the OS X core so you can access it from almost any application.

To bring up the Emoji & Symbols menu, select Emoji & Symbols from the Edit menu in the Menu Bar.

The Emoji & Symbols menu item is at the bottom of the Safari Edit menu.
The Emoji & Symbols item selected in the Safari Edit menu
credit: Apple, Inc.

The Characters window opens. Select the Math Symbols category on the left, and then find and select the degree symbol (°) in the table.

The degree symbol is toward the bottom of the list when the Math Symbols category is selected in the Characters window.
The degree symbol in the Characters window
credit: Apple, Inc.

Press the Insert button. A ° symbol is inserted at your cursor location.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Although the special characters tools allow you to browse and select many characters and symbols, if all you want is to insert a degree symbol, you can do so quickly with a keyboard shortcut.

Windows

In Windows, there are two different keyboard shortcuts that create a degree symbol, but you must have a numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard for either of these to work. (If your keyboard doesn't have a numeric keypad, then you'll have to use the Windows Character Map, as described in Special Characters Tools, above).

To insert a degree symbol with your numeric keypad in Windows, do one of the following:

  • Type Alt-248 (hold down the Alt key and type 248) using the number keys on your numeric keypad.
  • You can also type Alt-0176 (hold down the Alt key and type 0176) using the number keys on your numeric keypad.

In both cases, when you release the Alt Key, a ° is inserted at your cursor location.

OS X

There are two different keyboard shortcuts to insert a degree symbol in OS X. However unlike Windows, each of these shortcuts inserts a different version of the degree symbol, and you can choose the one you prefer.

  • Type Option-Shift-8 (hold down the Option key, then hold down the Shift key, and with both keys still held down, press the 8 key) to produce a large degree symbol. Example: 85°.
  • Type Option-K (hold down the Option key then press the K key) to produce a smaller degree symbol, which is displayed slightly higher. Example: 85˚.

In both cases, when you release the keys, the selected degree symbol is inserted at the location of your cursor.