How to insert plus-minus and minus-plus symbols in Word

Word 2016
The plus-minus symbol ± (also known as plus or minus sign) is placed in front of an expression and means that the following value can be either positive or negative, more or less. This symbol often indicates:
  • the limits of changing parameters
  • instrumental accuracy of measurements for a physical quantity
  • the expected spread of the statistically estimated parameter values
  • the interval of the result in approximate mathematical calculations.

For example, the phrase "net weight 200 ± 5% g" means that the product's net weight lies in the range from 190 to 210 g.

The minus–plus symbol (also known as minus-or-plus sign) is used with one or more plus-minus signs and means that the plus sign in plus-minus in one expression strictly corresponds to the minus sign in minus-plus and vice versa, e.g.:

Equitation with plus-minus and minus-plus symbols in Word 365

Note: In chess notation, the ± symbol means that after the corresponding move, white has an advantage, and the symbol tells that black has an advantage.

There are several different ways how to insert plus-minus or minus-plus symbols into a Word document:

   I.  Using the Equation:

   1.   Place the cursor where you want to insert the plus-minus symbol or minus-plus symbol, then click Alt+= to insert the equitation block:

Equitation in Word 365

   2.   In the equitation block, without any additional efforts, you can enter some mathematical symbols by typing \+Name of the symbol:

Plus-minus symbol in equation Word 365,    Minus-plus symbol in equation Word 365

   II.  Using AutoCorrect for Math:

When you work with many documents and often need to paste a single special symbol, you may not want to insert an equation each time. Microsoft Word offers a helpful feature named AutoCorrect. The AutoCorrect options in Microsoft Word propose two different ways to quickly add any special character, or even large pieces of text:

Using this method, you can benefit from the Math AutoCorrect options without inserting an equation. To turn on or turn off the AutoCorrect of the Math symbols, do the following:

   1.   On the File tab, click Options:

Word 365 Options button

   2.   In the Word Options dialog box, on the Proofing tab, click the AutoCorrect Options... button:

AutoCorrect Options in Word 365

   3.   In the AutoCorrect dialog box, on the Math AutoCorrect tab, select the Use Math AutoCorrect rules outside of the math regions option:

Use Math AutoCorrect rules outside of the math regions in Word 365

After clicking OK, you can use any of the listed Names of symbols, and Microsoft Word will replace them with the appropriate symbols:

Plus-minus symbol in Word 365,    Minus-plus symbol in Word 365,    Plus-minus symbol in Word 365,    Minus-plus symbol in Word 365.

Note: If you do not need the last replacement, click Ctrl+Z to cancel it.

   III.  Using a shortcut key:

Microsoft Word offers a pre-defined shortcut key for some symbols such as plus-minus sign and minus-plus sign:

  • Type 00b1 or 00B1 (does not matter, uppercase or lowercase) and immediately press Alt+X to insert the plus-minus symbol: ±
  • Type 2213 and press Alt+X to insert the minus-plus symbol:

Note: You can see the combination in the Character code field in the Symbol dialog box (see below).

   IV.  Using a Symbol dialog box:

To open the Symbol dialog box, on the Insert tab, in the Symbols group, select the Symbol button, and then click More Symbols...:

More Symbols in Word 365

On the Symbol dialog box, select the symbol and click the Insert button:

Plus-minus symbol in Symbols Word 365

To select the minus-plus symbol, in the Font list, choose the Segoe UI Symbol font, and select the symbol:

Minus-plus symbol in Symbols Word 365

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.