For a Microsoft Word 2000 version of this article, see 212396.

For a Microsoft Word 98 Macintosh Edition version of this article, see 184634.

For a Microsoft Word 97 version of this article, see 160022.


In Microsoft Word, when you format text with a symbol font such as Wingdings, and then change to a non-symbol font such as Times New Roman, the text is replaced with box characters.


Word displays the box characters after it translates the symbol font to its Unicode equivalent. Therefore, this behavior occurs if the following steps are performed in the given order:

  1. The text is formatted with a symbol font, such as Wingdings.

  2. The file is saved.

  3. The text is reformatted with a non-symbol font, such as Times New Roman.


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290140 OFFXP: How to Run Sample Code from Knowledge Base Articles
The following Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro converts the symbol characters to non-symbol characters.

NOTE: Before you run this macro, select the box characters.

Sub ConvertSymbol()

Dim dlg As Object
Dim NoFC As Integer
Dim SCP As Integer
Dim StartRange As Range
Dim UniCodeNum As Integer

' Temporarily disable Screen Updating
Application.ScreenUpdating = False

' Temporarily disable Smart Cut & Paste
If Options.SmartCutPaste = True Then
SCP = 1
Options.SmartCutPaste = False
End If

' Temporarily display field text
If ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes = False Then
NoFC = 1
ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes = True
End If

' Set StartRange variable to current selection's range
Set StartRange = Selection.Range

' Select first, then each next character in user-defined selection
Selection.MoveRight unit:=wdCharacter, Extend:=wdExtend
While Selection.End <= StartRange.End And _
ActiveDocument.Content.End > Selection.End

' If the character is a space, then move to next character
Set dlg = Dialogs(wdDialogInsertSymbol)
UniCodeNum = dlg.charnum

If UniCodeNum = 32 Then
Selection.MoveRight unit:=wdCharacter, Extend:=wdMove
Selection.MoveRight unit:=wdCharacter, Extend:=wdExtend
End If

' Loop, converting symbol Unicode characters to ASCII characters
Set dlg = Dialogs(wdDialogInsertSymbol)
UniCodeNum = dlg.charnum

While UniCodeNum < 0 And Selection.End <= StartRange.End _
And ActiveDocument.Content.End > Selection.End
Selection.InsertAfter (ChrW(UniCodeNum + 4096))
Selection.Collapse (wdCollapseEnd)
Selection.MoveRight unit:=wdCharacter, Extend:=wdExtend
Set dlg = Dialogs(wdDialogInsertSymbol)
UniCodeNum = dlg.charnum

Selection.Collapse (wdCollapseEnd)
Selection.MoveRight unit:=wdCharacter, Extend:=wdExtend

' Reset Word document settings
If SCP = 1 Then Options.SmartCutPaste = True
If NoFC = 1 Then ActiveWindow.View.ShowFieldCodes = False
Selection.Collapse (wdCollapseStart)
Selection.MoveLeft unit:=wdCharacter
Application.ScreenUpdating = True

End Sub

NOTE: After you run the macro and the text is converted to non-symbol characters, you may need to format the text to the correct font.

More Information

The following table lists common symbol and non-symbol fonts:


Unicode is a 16-bit character set designed to cover all of the world's major living languages, in addition to scientific symbols and dead languages that are the subject of scholarly interest. It eliminates the complexity of multi-byte character sets that are currently used in UNIX and Microsoft Windows to support Asian languages. A consortium of companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Digital, and IBM, created Unicode. These companies used information from the ISO-10646 standard to produce a single standard in 1993. Unicode is the basis for the Microsoft Windows NT operating system.

Unicode is a 16-bit character set, in which all characters occupy the same space. The first 256 values are the same as the ISO-Latin character set, which is also the basis for the ANSI character set used in Microsoft Windows 3.1 and Microsoft Windows 95. However, Unicode defines 34,168 distinct coded characters. In most character sets, a single value is often assigned to several characters. For example, in ASCII a "-" character is used to represent a hyphen, a minus sign, a dash, and a non-breaking hyphen. In Unicode, each meaning is given its own code; that is, a hyphen is represented by a character different from a minus sign, and so forth. The Unicode standard contains only one instance of each character and assigns it a unique name and code value. It also supports combining accent characters, which follow the base character that they are to modify.

For more information about Unicode, visit the Unicode Web site at the following location:

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