How to Get Excel to Automatically Insert plus/addition sign

Occasional Visitor

I just upgraded to Office 2019 (Win 10) from Office 2008 (mac).

In the old version, when I wanted to add up several cells, I would type the = sign and then click once on each cell I was interested in adding. Excel would assume I was adding and automatically insert the + sign between clicks. I did not have to type the + sign.

If I wanted any other operation, than I would have to manually type the - * / keys.

In the new version, this does not happen -- clicking on the cell just inserts the cell location and I must manually type the + key if I want to add.

Is there a way to get the functionality from the 2008 version in the 2021 version?

1 Reply



There are different options depending on where you want to use it. Here are a few options.


a) Keyboard shortcuts in Excel

Many users find that using an external keyboard with keyboard shortcuts for Excel helps them work more efficiently. For users with mobility or vision disabilities, keyboard shortcuts can be easier than using the touchscreen, and are an essential alternative to using a mouse.




b) Mark numbers with the plus sign. First mark the cell area, click the marked area with the right mouse button and invoke the "Format cells" command.

In the "Numbers" tab, mark the "User-defined" category and enter the following format in the "Type" input field:


+0; -0; 0


After clicking OK, the signs appear in the marked area for both positive and negative numbers.


c) Hold down the Alt key (to the left of the space bar).

Now enter the following number combination on the number pad: 0, 1, 7, 7.

    The plus minus sign ± should now appear in your text document or search field.

If this doesn't work on the first try, it could be because your keypad is not activated. However, this is relatively easy to fix: Simply press the Num key (top left on the numeric keypad), if another LED lights up on your keyboard or laptop, the numeric keypad should be active.

Now try the key combination again.



Thank you for your patience and understanding.


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