If you're writing about math or calculations, you may need to type a multiplication sign. This symbol isn't found on most keyboards, but there are ways to enter it on your computer in every major operating system. As an alternative, you can indicate multiplication using parentheses or informally using the letter "x" or an asterisk.
Windows and the Multiplication Symbol
If you use Microsoft Windows, you add unusual symbols to documents you create, including word processing files, spreadsheets and emails, using the Character Map tool.
Use the search box on the Start menu or taskbar to search for "character map" and click the program when it appears. You'll see a grid of text characters that includes letters, numbers, punctuation and special symbols.
A drop-down menu shows various fonts. Choose the font you want to use in your document from the menu. Scroll through the list of characters to find the multiplication symbol; click it and choose the "Select" button. Click the right mouse button in the program where you want to use the character and select "Paste" in the menu to paste the symbol into your document.
You can also copy symbols from one document to another or from a website to a document you're editing.
Times Symbol on Macs
Apple computers running macOS have a tool called the Emoji and Symbols menu. To access it in most programs, go to the "Edit" menu in the top toolbar and select "Emoji and Symbols." The characters are divided into categories with most mathematical signs, including the multiplication sign, listed under either "Symbols" or "Technical Symbols."
Using ASCII or Unicode Codes
Computers use systems called ASCII and Unicode to represent different types of characters numerically. These systems represent each character they include, from letters and numbers to mathematical symbols and emoji, using unique numerical codes. On a Windows machine, you enter these numerical codes to generate the characters by holding down the "Alt" key and typing the four-digit Unicode code using the number pad with "Num Lock" on.
Look up Unicode codes at the Unicode Consortium website.
Alternative Ways to Signal Multiplication
Depending on context, you can denote multiplication in different ways. You can explicitly write out words like "times" or "multiplied by" or use an asterisk symbol, which is used in many computer programming languages and found on most computer, smart phone and typewriter keyboards. In some cases, you may be able to use the letter "x" to mean multiplication, although this can be confusing if "x" is also used for other purposes.
You can also use parentheses to denote multiplication in some contexts. For example, 2(4+5) means to add four and five and then multiply by two.
If you're using an unfamiliar device and aren't sure how to type or insert a multiplication symbol or aren't sure that the font you're using will translate to another person's equipment, you may be better off using one of these alternatives.