Adding Circles around Letters or Numbers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 20, 2016)

12

When Des writes paper notes, she often puts squares around certain letters or numbers and circles around others. This is her own "code" that allows her to key in on information she needs to pay attention to. Des can relatively easily put squares around letters or numbers in a Word document (using borders), but she hasn't found a way to add circles.

There are actually a few ways you can go about this. One way, of course, is to use the graphics capabilities built into Word to create a shape (a circle) that can be placed around any letters or numbers you desire. A quick way to do this is to customize the Quick Access Toolbar so it includes the Oval tool. (How you customize the QAT has been covered in other WordTips. The Oval tool is found by listing All Commands during the configuration process.)

Once the Oval tool is in place, click on it and you can then use the mouse pointer to draw the circle. Just hold down the Shift key as you click and drag, and you are guaranteed of a perfect circle. Of course, the circle is filled in with a color, but all you need to do is use the Fill tool (on the Format tab, visible immediately after drawing the circle) to choose No Fill. You can even right-click the circle and choose Set As Default. This assures that the next use of the Oval tool results in a no-fill shape. (You'll still need to hold down Shift, however, to ensure you create a circle.)

The benefit to this approach is that you can make the circle any size you want and any color you want. The drawback is that it adds graphic shapes to your document—they can sometimes be difficult to position and they increase the size of your document file.

Another approach is to "enclose" your characters. This is achieved through a different command you can add to the Quick Access Toolbar. When configuring, again display All Commands and look for one named Enclose Character. When you've added it to the QAT, use it by selecting some text (either one or two characters, no more) and then clicking the tool. You then see the Enclose Character dialog box displayed. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Enclose Character dialog box.

Here you can select how you want the text affected (shrunk or enlarged) and what type of shape you want to use to enclose the text (circle, square, triangle, etc.). When you click on OK, the text is adjusted through the use of an EQ field. You'll need to play with this approach a bit to determine if it works just the way you want.

A third way you can tackle this problem is to use a font that already has characters enclosed within circles. This is actually built into Word 2007, Word 2010, and Word 2013. Follow these steps:

  1. Position the insertion point where you want the circled text.
  2. Display the Insert tab of the ribbon.
  3. In the Symbols group, click the Symbol tool and then choose More Symbols. Word displays the Symbol dialog box.
  4. Using the Font drop-down list, choose Arial Unicode MS.
  5. Make sure that the From drop-down list is set to Unicode (Hex).
  6. Using the Subset drop-down list, choose Enclosed Alphanumerics. (You will need to scroll through the drop-down options a ways to find this.) (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Symbol dialog box.

  8. Select the symbol you want to use. (If you scroll down a bit you'll also find circled uppercase letters and circled lowercase letters.)
  9. Click Insert.
  10. Close the Symbol dialog box.

The drawback to this approach is that it works only for the numbers 1 through 20 and for single letters (uppercase or lowercase). These steps also won't work in Word 2016 because—for some inexplicable reason—Microsoft removed the Arial Unicode MS font, and it seems that none of the installed fonts has the Enclosed Alphanumerics subset included. You could, of course, search the Web for a downloadable font that would include circled characters.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13436) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 6 - 0?

2017-09-30 16:45:46

MANUEL RENE PUENTE

Hi everyone I'm looking for the Number 100 encircled .. I don't have a PC just work off of my phone if any1 could help me I would greatly appreciate it.. Thanks for your time .


2017-03-14 18:06:47

John

The enclose character in the QAT was a revelation for me. It also infuriated me that the same thing is not available in Excel. I am an engineer, and we use triangles enclosing numbers for revision marks. It amazes me time and again the lack of communication between product lines at Microsoft.


2016-10-26 11:28:06

Marilyn

Thank you for the helpful information about how to find a circled lowercase letter. It's amazing how much I don't know about Word. I'm bookmarking your site!


2016-03-08 11:23:48

Steven LaLonde

Chris, Thank you for sharing about Combinumerals. I mentioned this font when I first responded to this tip request, but the editor chose not to mention it.
Paul, when I do a SaveAs from Word as a PDF, it does seem to work well, but that may be because I do have the Combinumerals Font installed. I have confirmed that sharing said PDF with someone who does not have the font still shows correctly. The same is not true for the Word document unless you select to Embed Fonts in the file within Word's Save options.


2016-03-07 10:04:19

Paul Franklin Stregevsky

@Chis Leslie, thanks for suggesting Combinumerals Pro. Can you confirm what happens to these characters when they're PDFed, using Acrobat's default settings?


2016-03-04 13:15:15

Chris Leslie

It is worth noting that if numerics in circles are all that is needed there is a very good free font 'Combinumerals'that allows you numbers up to 99. 'Combinumerals Pro' for a small charge allows you any number in a pseudo oval together with other usful symbols


2016-03-01 21:41:47

Ken Endacott

The following macro creates a circle shape that sits in background behind the text, the circle is automatically sized to fit the selected text. If you want the circle to be colored then change line.forecolor. For example .Line.ForeColor = RGB(256, 0, 0) will give a red line. The circle will move with the text when editing but will become out of alignment if the page borders are changed.

Sub InsertCircleAroundText()
Dim x1 As Long
Dim x2 As Long
Dim y As Long
Dim aRange As Range
Dim shapeHeight As Single
Dim fontSize As Single
Set aRange = Selection.Range.Duplicate
If aRange.Start = aRange.End Then
MsgBox "No text selected"
Exit Sub
End If
fontSize = Selection.Font.Size
y = Selection.Information(wdVerticalPositionRelativeToPage) _
+ fontSize / 2 + 1
x1 = Selection.Information(wdHorizontalPositionRelativeToPage) - 1
Selection.Start = Selection.End
x2 = Selection.Information(wdHorizontalPositionRelativeToPage)
shapeHeight = x2 - x1
y = y - shapeHeight / 2

With ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddShape _
(msoShapeOval, x1, y, shapeHeight, shapeHeight)
.Line.Visible = True
.Line.ForeColor = RGB(0, 0, 0)
.Line.Weight = 0.75
.Fill.ForeColor = RGB(256, 256, 256)
.WrapFormat.Type = wdWrapBehind
.Select
End With
With Selection.ShapeRange(1)
aRange.Select
.RelativeHorizontalPosition = wdRelativeHorizontalPositionCharacter
.Left = .Left + fontSize / 2
End With
End Sub

Use the following macro if instead of a circle you want to place an ellipse around the selected text.

Sub InsertOvalAroundText()
Dim x1 As Long
Dim x2 As Long
Dim y As Long
Dim aRange As Range
Dim shapeHeight As Single
Dim fontSize As Single
Set aRange = Selection.Range.Duplicate
If aRange.Start = aRange.End Then
MsgBox "No text selected"
Exit Sub
End If
fontSize = Selection.Font.Size
shapeHeight = fontSize + 6
y = Selection.Information(wdVerticalPositionRelativeToPage) - 1
x1 = Selection.Information(wdHorizontalPositionRelativeToPage) - 1
Selection.Start = Selection.End
x2 = Selection.Information(wdHorizontalPositionRelativeToPage)
With ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddShape _
(msoShapeOval, x1, y, x2 - x1, shapeHeight)
.Line.Visible = True
.Line.ForeColor = RGB(0, 0, 0)
.Line.Weight = 0.75
.Fill.ForeColor = RGB(256, 256, 256)
.WrapFormat.Type = wdWrapBehind
.Select
End With
With Selection.ShapeRange(1)
aRange.Select
.RelativeHorizontalPosition = wdRelativeHorizontalPositionCharacter
.Left = .Left + fontSize / 2
End With
End Sub


2016-02-24 12:44:19

Paul Franklin Stregevsky

As Steven LaLonde has recommended, I've
added all 20 values to my autocorrect rules:
1c becomes ①
11c becomes ⑪
20c becomes ⑳

But these rules can backfire if I need to refer, say, to paragraph 1c. So as a precaution, I've also created keyboard shortcuts and shared them with coworkers in my proposals group, as follows:

"I’ve added 20 keyboard shortcuts—Control+nn—to create the circled numbers 1 through 20:
①②③④⑤⑥⑦⑧⑨⑩⑪⑫⑬⑭⑮⑯⑰⑱⑲⑳

"For example:
To type ①, press <Ctrl>+01 (0, then 1)
To type ⑪, press <Ctrl>+11 (1, then 1 again)
To type ⑳, press <Ctrl>+20 (2, then 0)

"Circled numbers are used to number steps or areas of a figure, fields of a form, or sections of a table. Windows offers three sets of circled numbers. This set is the only one that extends to 20. You can find it in the Symbol dialog box under the font Arial Unicode MS.

"Unfortunately, this series is missing the circled zero. To create a circled zero, please use the circled zero from the Wingdings series: press <Ctrl>+00 (0, then 0)."


2016-02-23 08:44:13

Steven LaLonde

Now that I know these special symbols exist, this seems like the most practical method. To add an extra lay of convenient, one might take advantage of the auto-correct feature to let the typing of say (1) be replaced with the number one within the circle. Since there are only 20 circled numbers in this set, you would only have to setup 20 auto-corrections. This obviously depends on whether you normally find yourself using numbers within parentheses. You might prefer some other set of characters to stand in place, such as (1.

I do not yet have Word 2016, but I would be interested to know if the shortcut key still works even if the font does not actually exist in Word 2016. For example, type in 2460, highlight it, and then type Alt+X. Please let me know if that becomes the number 1 within a circle.

Thanks - Steve


2016-02-22 12:08:46

Steven J. Van Steenhuyse

I get strange results from the Enclose Characters command. The results just do not look good, as the text will bleed into the enclosing border or extend outside of it. Even using the Enlarge Symbol option, especially for the square, does not result in the character being contained completely within the enclosing shape (the triangle and the diamond do this better, for some reason). Also, I see that this must be done through some kind of field code, since when I have Field Shading set to "Always" the enclosed character is shaded.

As to drawing a circle, if you add text to the shape, it appears that you are limited by the built-in requirements for spacing around text. For instance, to create the letter "A" in 12 point Calibri, after making sure that it's centered vertically and horizontally and that there is no paragraph leading, the circle will have to be no smaller than .45 inches, or the letter will start to disappear.

If you want to make the letter larger, the only way I've found is to draw a text box large enough to encompass the text in the point size desired, type the text in it, center it vertically and horizontally within the text box, draw the circle to the desired size on top of the text box, send the circle to the back behind the text box, align them by selecting both shapes and use "Center" and then "Middle," and then group them. Seems like a lot of steps. There aren't any better ways to do this?


2016-02-22 08:42:18

Steve Dunham

Does the oval tool create an inline oval? If not, then changes to the text might cause the text to move while the oval stays put, resulting in an oval around the wrong character, right?


2016-02-20 17:15:21

Don Matttocks

Anybody know where the "Enclose Character" is in Word 2016?


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