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February 8, 2023

How to Add a Nice Steaming Pile of Poo to Any Excel Spreadsheet

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words. There may just be instances where nothing else will do in a set of audit work papers than a steaming brown pile of excrement. This is easy to add in the mobile versions of Excel, but you can also add emoji in the desktop versions as well.

If you’re beyond a certain age you may not have a clue what emoji are. Fortunately the Oxford dictionary has your back: “A small digital image or icon used to express an idea, emotion, etc., in electronic communication.” In essence, emoji are little icons that are frequently used in text messages and on social media platforms. Wikipedia informed me that emoji started out in Japan, but are quickly swarming the world.

The easiest way to add emoji to a spreadsheet is via Apple’s iOS devices, such as an iPhone or iPad. Yes, I hear you scoffing at using Excel on an iPhone, but Microsoft has finally gotten serious about the mobile app. A newly released version of Excel for Mobile works much like Excel for iPad. You won’t be doing any serious content creation on either device, but the new mobile versions are now at least usable, unlike the initial incarnation of Excel for iPhone. Android users are still on the sidelines at the moment unless you snagged an invite to the preview program. Recent integration with Dropbox in the Office Mobile apps makes it easy to access documents on the fly.

Regardless, rather than writing “this stinks” in a worksheet cell, you can now carry out these steps in Excel for iPhone or iPad, as shown in Figure 1:

  • Double-tap on a worksheet cell to display the onscreen keyboard.
  • Tap the smiley icon to access the “smiley” emoji.
  • Swipe to the right 4 times, and then tap the second icon on the bottom row.
  • Tap the green checkmark to store your entry in the worksheet cell.

I used IOS 8.1 for these screenshots, so your mileage may vary in earlier versions of Apple’s mobile device operating system.

Figure 1: Excel for Mobile makes it easy to integrate emoji into your spreadsheets.

Your icon will appear in full color on your mobile device, but as shown in Figure 2, will appear in black-and-white in the desktop versions of Excel. This means your “language” might not end up as colorful as you wish, but I’m sure you’ll get your point across.

Figure 2: Full-color emoji transform into black-and-white equivalents in the desktop versions of Excel.

Of course, Excel has long offered the ability to easily embed symbols into worksheets, as shown in Figure 3:

  • Choose Insert, and then Symbol.
  • Every font has a series of symbols associated with it, but the most creative ones are listed under Webdings and the various Wingdings.
  • Double-click the symbol of your choice to insert it into the current worksheet cell.

You won’t likely find anything resembling a brown pile with steam emanating, but you can go old-school with a Wile E. Coyote-style bomb, or a poison control-ready skull-and-crossbones, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Desktop symbols aren’t as elaborate as those on mobile devices.

Now go forth and emoji those spreadsheets!

About the author:
David H. Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, teaches webcasts for CPE Link, and writes freelance articles on Excel for AccountingWEB, Going Concern,


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