Insert Special Characters into Google Sheets Using Google Docs

In the days of yore, one was able to insert special characters into a Google Spreadsheet.  However, after the 2014 refresh, this handy feature was taken away from us.  For whatever reason, Google decided that people using spreadsheets would not need the ability to insert special characters.  How dare they!

It seems to me this was not the best decision.  If Google wants to make inroads into the business spreadsheet market, where Excel is the unquestioned champion, it should be catering to the professions that use spreadsheets the most.  Accountants, yes you know one or two of them, are very heavy spreadsheet users.  Any decent size company employs at least one of them and they use spreadsheet day in and day out.  

Many of these accountants have a pedigree of Public Accounting where they are taught to use “tickmarks” to their workpapers.  These tickmarks are essentially symbols and they can’t be easily replaced with regular characters.  Thus, Google has made their product markedly less useful to accountants in public practice which is where millions of accountants work after college graduation, for at least a while, and thus start to develop their business software preferences and prejudices.

However, if you want special characters and you don’t want to stop using Google Sheets, I have finally found a work around, albeit one of limited usefulness.  After searching Google for the umpteenth time for this, I finally found an answer buried in a reply to a Google+ post.  It is basically this:

  • Open your spreadsheet
  • Open a Google Document (Google’s word processor)
    • Select Insert -> Special Characters
        • Yes, low and behold, this menu item does still exist.  It is just in Docs and not in Sheets.

      Video explanation

      docs insert special characters menu

    • Copy the special characters that you inserted in Docs
    • Paste them into Sheets
    • Viola!

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