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1.31 FAQ-148 How Do I Insert Special Characters into Text Labels, Worksheet Cells and Dialog Boxes?

Last Update: 4/22/2018

Adding Special Characters to Text Labels

There are two basic modes for inserting special characters into text labels:

  • Most users will add special characters and formatting using "in-place" methods for creating and editing text labels.
  • For existing text objects, the user has the option of adding special characters and formatting via the text object's Properties dialog box.

Origin 2018 introduced the *.opju project format which supports Unicode. Note that the ALT+X method of inserting Unicode characters into text labels and worksheet cells discussed here is NOT supported by earlier versions of Origin. If you or your project-sharing colleagues are using a pre-2018 version, you will need to follow the recommendations in the note under "Adding Special Characters and Formatting with the Object Properties Dialog", below.

Adding Unicode Characters by In-place Edit

To create a text label, click the Text tool Button Text Tool.png on the Tools toolbar, then click at the point on the graph, worksheet, etc. where you want to add a label. You are now in "in-place" edit mode.

Greek format toolbar.png
  • Choose a font and enter the Unicode 4-character hex code sequence (e.g. 03B8 for θ) and press ALT+X on your keyboard.
Unicode alt x.gif
  • Right-click and choose Symbol Map. Set Font, as needed, leave Unicode checked, find your character and click Insert. Alternately, enter the 4-character Unicode sequence in the Go to Unicode box and click Insert.
Symbol map.gif
  • For Greek letters, click the Greek button Button Greek.png on the Format toolbar and type in english letters, corresponding Greek letters will show. Or highlight the English text and then click Button Greek.png. This converts the highlighted character(s) to the equivalent TT Symbol font character (e.g. "P" becomes "Π").

Adding Super- or Subscripts by In-place Edit

  • Enter text to be super- or subscripted, highlight the text, then click the Superscript Button Superscript.png, Subscript Button Subscript.png or SuperSubscript Button SuperSubscript.png buttons on the Format toolbar.
  • Click the Supsersciprt, Subscript or SuperSubscript button first and then type.
Superscript subscript.gif

Adding Special Characters and Formatting with the Object Properties Dialog

Once created, every text or drawing object has a Properties dialog box for formatting, positioning and programming the object. The Text tab of the Properties dialog allows editing of label text, including inserting of special characters and application of other special text formatting options.

  1. Right-click on the text label and choose Properties.
  2. Click in the upper panel of the Properties dialog to do the following:
  • Edit text.
  • Highlight text and click one of the formatting buttons (note that this inserts escape sequence code into your string - see Note, below).
Object Properties Text Format Buttons.png
  • Enter the 4-character hex code for a (Unicode) codepoint (e.g. 03BB for "λ"), then press ALT+X. Note that no escape sequence is inserted by this method so it is not compatible with the OPJ format and not supported by pre-2018 versions of Origin.
  • Click the Symbol Map button Properties symbol map button.png. Select your Font, then the desired character and click Insert. Optionally, check the Unicode box and enter the 4-character hex code for the symbol in the Go to Unicode box. Verify that the returned symbol is correct and click Insert.
Note: Prior to Origin 2018, Origin did not support Unicode. Therefore, if you plan to share your work with Origin users who are using pre-2018 versions of Origin you should (1) enable rich text, (2) insert your Unicode characters using the Symbol Map (not the Character Map) and (3) be sure to check the Use escape notation check box at the bottom of the Symbol Map dialog when inserting Unicode characters. Lastly, (4) save your project file as an OPJ file (not OPJU).
FAQ148 Use Escape Sequences Box.png

Adding Special Characters to Worksheet Cell, Version 2018 and Later

While editing in the cell:

  • Enter the 4-character hex code for a (Unicode) codepoint (e.g. 03BB for "λ"), then press ALT+X. The codepoint is inserted.
  • Open the Character Map by pressing CTRL+M, or right-click and choose Character Map. Browse or enter the 4-character hex code for a (Unicode) codepoint and click Insert.

Related FAQ: FAQ-149 How to insert Greek symbols and subscript in plot legends and axis titles from worksheet headers?

Note: If you want to save the project with special characters in worksheet cells to opj format to share it with others who only have Origin2017 and earlier version, you will need to enable rich text and use Symbol Map dialog to insert special characters. See detailed steps in "Preferred method, Origin 9.0 to 2017 SR2" section.

Adding Special Characters to Worksheet Cells, Versions Prior to Origin 2018

By default, only the worksheet Units row (column label rows) will have rich text enabled. In the remainder of the column label rows and data portions of the worksheet, rich text is off by default.

You can enable rich text for a row or cell by right-clicking on the row or cell and choose Set object Style: Rich Text from the bottom of the shortcut menu. You can turn on rich text for the entire sheet by right-clicking in the gray area to the right of the last worksheet column and choosing Properties, then clicking the Format tab, setting Apply to and checking the Rich Text box.

Once rich text is enabled:

  • Open the Symbol Map by pressing Ctrl+M or right-clicking in the cell and choosing Symbol Map. Set your Font and check the Unicode box as needed. Find and insert your character. Though these Origin versions do not support Unicode directly, they can display Unicode characters by automatically inserting escape sequences into a stored (hidden) character string.
  • Enter characters in the cell, highlight them and use the Symbol font or the Greek button on the Standard toolbar, to produce the desired character (note that this method is limited to characters available in the TT Symbol font).
Standard toolbar special characters.png

Prior to version 9.0, the Origin worksheet did not support rich text and therefore, did not support direct display of special characters and formatting. However, the worksheet was able to store such information using escape sequences. See "Preferred method, versions prior to 9.0" under Entering Special Characters into Worksheet Header Rows

Adding Special Characters and Text Formatting to Origin Dialog Boxes

Often, users want to add special characters or text formatting to graph axis titles or legends. While some dialog box fields accept special characters, the preferred method is to enter your formatted text and special characters into the worksheet column label rows, then configure your graph to use that information in axis titles and legends. For more information, see FAQ-149 How to insert Greek symbols and subscript in plot legend and axis titles from worksheet headers?

If you prefer not to use this approach, you can:

  • Directly edit the text in axis titles and legend objects in the graph, by double-clicking on the object. This puts you into in-place edit mode where you can overwrite the hidden LabTalk variables that link the title or legend text to worksheet metadata. This is the "quick and dirty" method but if static text is acceptable, this will work.
  • Enter special characters and text formatting directly into the Axis or legend object's Properties dialog boxes.
    • Open the Axis dialog box, click the Title tab and in the Text field, append your characters to the existing LabTalk code by (a) typing the Unicode 4-character hex value then immediately press ALT+X to insert the character or (b) using escape sequences.
    • The legend object is a special text object named "Legend" and the legend text can be edited on the Text tab of the legend object's Properties dialog box. The same methods discussed above in the section on Adding Special Characters and Formatting with the Object Properties Dialog apply to editing of legend text.
    • Some other Origin dialog box text fields will accept special characters, formatting, etc., but there is no single standard. For instance, the Tick Labels, Display tab, Prefix and Suffix fields support escape sequences but will not take a Unicode character using the ALT+X method (though they will accept copied and pasted Unicode characters).

Keywords:Unicode, ALT+X, Greek, ASCII, Extended ASCII, ANSI, mu, pi, delta, alpha, beta, epsilon, lambda, degrees, superscript, subscript, extended character, escape sequence, overline, tilde, dot, rich text, angstrom, math, umlaut, diaeresis, acute, tilde, accent mark, macron, circumflex, Planck, worksheet header, column label


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