How to Insert Arrow Symbols on Your Web Page

Turn to Unicode for all kinds of symbols

Unicode arrows

Stannered/Public Domain/WikiCommons 

Inserting an arrow (or other symbols) into a blog post or web page to indicate "next" is simply a matter of typing the right key combinations into the page's HTML using the editor or platform of your choice. These keystrokes are based on Unicode, which web browsers recognize and turn into the desired symbols.

How to Make an Arrow for Your Web Page

You'll need one of three identifiers: the HTML5 entity code, the decimal code, or the hexadecimal code. Any of the three identifiers produces the same result. In general, entity codes start with an ampersand and end with a semicolon; in the middle is an abbreviation summarizing what the symbol is. Decimal codes follow the format Ampersand+Hashtag+Numeric code+Semicolon, and hexadecimal codes insert the letter X between the hashtag and the numbers.

For example, to produce a left-arrow symbol (←), type any of the following combinations:

  • HTML:
    ←
  • Decimal:
    ←
  • Hexadecimal:
    ←

Most Unicode symbols do not offer entity codes, so they must be assigned using the decimal or hexadecimal code instead.

You must insert these codes directly into the HTML using a text-mode or source-mode edit tool. Adding the symbols to a visual editor might not work, and pasting the Unicode character you want into a visual editor might not result in your intended effect. For example, when writing a blog post using WordPress, switch to Code Editor mode instead of Visual Editor mode to insert a special symbol.

Preview to show hex right arrow to add to your page

Common Arrow Symbols

Unicode supports dozens of types and styles of arrows. Look at the Character Map on your computer to identify specific styles of arrows.

To open the Character Map, select Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map (or select Windows and enter character map in the search box).

When you highlight a symbol, you'll see a description of the symbol at the bottom of the Character Map application window in the form of U+nnnn, where the numbers represent the decimal code for the symbol.

Microsoft Windows character map

Note that not all Windows fonts display all forms of the Unicode symbols, so if you can't find what you want even after changing fonts inside of Character Map, consider alternate sources, including the summary pages for W3Schools.

Selected UTF-8 arrow symbols
Character Decimal Hexadecimal Entity Standardized Name
8592 2190 left arrow
8593 2191 up arrow
8594 2192 right arrow
8595 2194 down arrow
8597 2195   up down arrow
8635 21BB   clockwise open-circle arrow
8648 21C8   up paired arrows
8702 21FE   right open-headed arrow
8694 21F6   three right arrows
8678 21E6   left white arrow
8673 21E1   up dashed arrow
8669 21DD   right squiggle arrow

Considerations

Microsoft EdgeInternet Explorer 11, and Firefox 35 and newer browsers have no difficulty displaying the full range of Unicode characters in the UTF-8 standard. Google Chrome, however, intermittently misses some characters if they're presented solely using the HTML5 entity code.

The UTF-8 standard includes characters beyond arrows, too. For example, UTF-8 supports characters including:

  • Currency symbols
  • Letter-like symbols that aren't letters
  • Mathematical operators
  • Geometric shapes
  • Box-like shapes
  • Dingbats
  • Diacritical marks
  • Greek, Coptic, and Cyrillic characters

UTF-8 serves as the default encoding for almost 90 percent of all web pages as of November 2018, according to Google.

The procedure for inserting these additional symbols is exactly the same as it is for arrows.