Some characters (e.g. the less than and greater than signs) are reserved for HTML markup. In order to display these characters as text, you must enter the HTML entities in the source code. For example, to display the less than sign (<), you need to enter &lt; (entity name) or &#60; (entity number). Among the entity list, there are quite a lot of symbol entities that we can use in layout design. For examples: → ♥ ♫ ✓ ✗ • ☞ ✁ ★ “ ⊕. Have you seen the snowman ☃ symbol before? If not, continue on this post to find more surprises.

The Advantages of Using Entities Rather Than Images

  • It loads fast because it is text base.
  • Scalable according to font size.
  • Easy to change color and sizing.

Apostrophe & Quotation Marks

Most common typography mistakes found on the internet are probably the misuses of apostrophe and quotation marks. We often misuse the prime symbol ( ) as the apostrophe ( ) and the double prime ( " ) as the quotation marks ( “ ” ).

apostrophe and quotation

To correct this, you can use the right single quote entity (&rsquo;) as the apostrophe. Use the left double quote (&ldquo;) and right double quote (&rdquo;) for the quotation marks.


I particularly find the arrow symbols useful because they can be used as direction arrows or breadcrumb separators.

back arrow

breadcrumb examples

Link Separators

My favorite entities for separating links are bullet &bull; ( ) and dot operator &sdot; ( ).



Trademark, Copyright, Degree, and Currency

The other commonly used entities are probably the trademark, copyright, degree, and currency symbols.

Trademark ™ | © Copyright | Registered Trademark ®
Degree: 29° | 26 ℃ | 60 ℉
Currency: ¢ Cent | £ Pound | ¥ Yen | € Euro

trademark, copyright, degree

Symbols For Web Design

Here some entities that you can perhaps use for design layout:

✉ ✍ ✎ ✓ ☑ ☒ ✗ ⊕ ⊗ ☞ ☜ ♫ ✄ ✁ ∞ ♨ ☢ ✈ ☰ ☷ ♥ ★ ☆ ☺ ☹

symbols for web design

Miscellaneous Symbols

Here are some miscellaneous symbols that you will most likely never going to use (but they are cool):

♔ ♕ ♖ ♘ ♆ ✠ ♂ ♀ ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ ☣ ☮ ☃ ☂ ☯ ☠

misc symbols

Rendering Issues

Note that Mac and Windows have different rendering system. The symbol entities will most likely appear different on different operating systems. Check before you use it.

rendering issues

Reference Links


Calvin Tennant
Jan 4, 2010 at 2:07 am

I think its very important that you mentioned the rendering issues in there at the end. Most people don’t realize the massive differences cross-browser and cross-platform.

Jan 4, 2010 at 2:13 am

this is very helpful :)

John Lascurettes
Jan 4, 2010 at 2:28 am

Dont forget about em and en dash (— and –) and horizontal ellipses properly set (&hellip); ellipses are not properly set with three periods (…).

PS: what you refer to as foot and inch marks (primes) are not actually primes. They are neutral apostrophe and quote marks. Primes, from a typographical and unicode point of view are actually different. Check it by searching first for “prime” in your unicode table and then for “quotation” in the table.

John Lascurettes
Jan 4, 2010 at 2:29 am

Damn, edited out the semi-colon by mistake. Horizontal ellipses properly set: …

Jan 4, 2010 at 2:33 am

The last three categories are rare on the net. I haven’t noticed them, but they are quite useful. Thanks for lining them all up. I did not even know there was a row/thumb/phone and email icons.

Jan 4, 2010 at 2:41 am

Just use UTF8 and type those characters directly (or copy from char palette).

Jan 4, 2010 at 3:24 am

Or copy them from A very handy site!

Design Informer
Jan 4, 2010 at 3:43 am

Thank you for this wonderful post Nick. It’s definitely very helpful for me, as I always get these wrong. I also think there’s a WordPress plugin for this, but I don’t remember what it was.

Jan 4, 2010 at 4:46 am

Great post Nick, I tend to ignore these, especially good quotation marks. I studied in Denmark and they dont use the same as in english and we use something else again here in Iceland.

Check this list out:,_non-English_usage

…and this list is also very good:

…thanks for reminding me of this. Typography is the most important part to master in web design, not photoshop ;)

Jan 4, 2010 at 4:52 am

Here you can find many screens how demopage looks in different browsers on different operating systems:


Jan 4, 2010 at 5:09 am

I am not sure how you managed to get them to render so badly in Vista. Other than that, quite helpful.

Jan 4, 2010 at 5:17 am

Very helpful indeed. Thanks for sharing.

Mike Little
Jan 4, 2010 at 6:24 am

The problem with many of these is that they are not accessible to screen readers. The screen readers do not know how to pronounce many of them.
Particularly, I would discourage the use of arrow (or any other entity-based) symbols in breadcrumb trails: They are meant to help with navigation, but to a user of a screen reader they are a great hindrance.

Jan 4, 2010 at 6:34 am

占个位子 ^_^

Jan 4, 2010 at 7:14 am

Those rendering issues are certainly worth noting. How much better do the OS X versions look? :)

Thanks for the info.

Jan 4, 2010 at 7:41 am

I agree with Rimantas. When using UTF-8 no need to suffer with HTML entities, just copy and paste a symbol as it is.

Jan 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

Like this post a lot.

One small note, when describing the prime symbol in the paragraph about apostophe and quotation marks. you accidentally used an open single quote instead of a prime.

Jan 4, 2010 at 8:34 am

I’m with Mike on this. I won’t be using these ’til I know what screen readers do with it.

Jan 4, 2010 at 10:29 am

@Martijn and @Mike, I think screen readers shouldn’t pronounce some entities at all. Whether entity should or how it should pronounced is up to the screen reader (software), don’t you think?
Otherwise bread crumbles would indeed be pretty annoying.

Jan 4, 2010 at 10:49 am

I am surprised that I have not seen a cheat sheet put together for these….

Jan 4, 2010 at 10:53 am

With WinXP and Firefox I can’t see all characters, some are a box with numbers in it, why use something that isn’t safe?

web designer poland
Jan 4, 2010 at 10:56 am

Thanks a lot. Very useful. It’s pity that windows renders it so bad…

Russell Heimlich
Jan 4, 2010 at 11:00 am is my favorite HTML character entity reference.

Arthur Brown
Jan 4, 2010 at 11:27 am

This is a great post. Thanks always insightful.

Jan 4, 2010 at 11:56 am

I’m not too fond of these entities. You’re all talking about screenreaders – I can’t even see 90% of the symbols here in my Feedreader! I would never use these, as you never know what browser the visitor is using or what special characters he has or has not installed on his machine.
As already said here, I would always prefer using UTF-8 and then just copying the symbols in, without any of that entity stuff.

uma mahesh varma
Jan 4, 2010 at 12:01 pm

nice post… these are very much helpfull for designing issues ….

keep it up…

Elizabeth K. Barone
Jan 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Nick, this was such a fun post!

Some of these are really cool, even if I’ll probably never use them. I do use the », «, ←, →, •, ·, and ♥ sometimes, though.

A few people mentioned concern about how they would appear on screenreaders, and I think it would be wise to not use them as the sole part of a design. For example, if you want your logo to look like:

Letters of L♥ve

use an image instead. Same goes for trademarks and copyrights, though I would assume those are safe since they are pretty widely used.

The same rule for anything web design applies here: when in doubt, leave it out. (:

Elizabeth K. Barone
Jan 4, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Wiki has a long list of different entities, for anyone who’s interested: They don’t have all of the ones Nick used in this post, though. I’m still searching, though, and will post a link if I find a better list.

Jan 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Mac OS kicks Vista ass as usual…

Great post, I had totally overlooked the Apostrophe & Quotation Marks thing. thank you!

Elizabeth K. Barone
Jan 4, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Here is the best list I could find: They’ve got umbrellas and lots of other goodies, but they don’t have some of the entities Nick used here. I think there are a lot of entities that we don’t know about, which makes for a fun Easter egg hunt!

The Frosty
Jan 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm

That’s just awesome! I am totally going to snow man it up!

Jan 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Much as I enjoy working with Photoshop using (x)html and css when possible is often the best decision as long as one remains aware of accessibility issues.

Jan 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I hope you all know that the way the symbols are rendered depends on the used font. You could use (for example) an @font-face declaration to implement a font which renders the way you like it. This has nothing to do with Mac OSX or Windows Vista.

And, more important then the above, it is better to use those things in utf-8. This way you don’t have to rely on the entities, just copy the sign or symbol you want as it is into your document, and Google will not parse some shitty entities.

♔ ♕ ♖ ♘ ♆ ✠ ♂ ♀ ♠ ♣ ♥ ♦ ☣ ☮ ☃ ☂ ☯ ☠
(just copied the signs)

Jan-Claas Dirks
Jan 4, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I’ve found these triangle-shaped arrows extremely useful for table sorting and collapsable areas. ▲ (& #9650;), ▼ (& #9650;), ► (& #9650;), ▲ (& #9650;). Hardly found in any character tables.

Jan-Claas Dirks
Jan 4, 2010 at 3:42 pm

oops. ▲ (& #9650;), ▼ (& #9660;), ► (& #9658;), ◄ (& #9668;).

Jan 4, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Concerning the rendering problem in Vista, I just found this:

Maybe this helps? I can’t test it, don’t have Vista. :)

Abhisek @ AbhiTech
Jan 4, 2010 at 10:48 pm

I use HTML Entity Look up by left logic. Works great!

Jan 5, 2010 at 4:41 am

I was eager to use the e-mail and telephone symbols, but them and most of the fancy symbols don’t work on IE and Safari…☹
(btw why are these 2 so unpaired → ☺ ☹)

Jan 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

All 65536 UTF coded characters are posted on

Jordan Walker
Jan 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

Website wing dings, great write-up.

Matthew Cook
Jan 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Very helpful list! Thanks.

Jan 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

This is a cool post, however it would have been nice if the codes for the cool entities were given. Especially if you look at the source they are printed out not their value. The first reference may be good, but their page layout is near impossible to read.

Davis Carlos
Jan 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for letting us know

Jan 5, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Good! It’s Snowing ☃

Jan 6, 2010 at 2:03 am

Concerning the rendering problem in Vista

Ivan Mišić
Jan 6, 2010 at 7:14 am

Very helpful! THX.

Jarod Taylor
Jan 6, 2010 at 10:16 am

What a great writeup. These are things that a lot of us know, but neglect to utilize. Good reminder, techniques, and recommendations!



Jan 6, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Perfect timing! I use some of these entities in my AIR app, and copying them worked well on a Mac, but Windows doesn’t recognize some of them. Thanks!

Skyte Media
Jan 6, 2010 at 1:53 pm

That was a basic yet amazing post you made there. Definately will be trying some of these out in my designs.

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Click here to email me your comments!

Again, as always, an excellent post! Thanks

Adam B
Jan 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thats so cool, I knew about all the standard ones but had no idea that browsers would display all of the fancy ones too!

Matthew Aebersold
Jan 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Great post! Thank you for this.

Ken Webster
Jan 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Interesting post, but I find IE7 and 8 on Windows XP do not show many of the symbols. Chrome is slightly better. Firefox is required to show all the symbols correctly.

Anybody else noticed this, or is it just my computers?

Jan 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Thanks…it’s an amazing post you have made.

Jan 6, 2010 at 8:26 pm

This is so cool! Thank you.

Jan 6, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Very helpful! THX

Jan 6, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I cannot see the snow…

Jan 7, 2010 at 8:52 am

Good Article. It is useful to use a typography layout from Ilya Birman

Jan 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

This was a great post! I really enjoyed reading it! Fun and interesting – thanks for posting!

Jan 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm

hey nice post,

In the past when I’ve tried to use the → entity (right arrow) , IE6 unfortunately doesn’t like it…

All good if you dont need to code for IE6 though :)

Keith Davis
Jan 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I’ve used a couple of these.
The proper quotation marks and coma look much better than the ones that most of us use.
Must try and use some of the others.

Adam Hermsdorfer
Jan 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I’ve been noticing that when you pull WordPress custom page templates, you need to use the html entities or it’ll wack out the code. This list is very helpful. Thanks!

kok aan huis
Jan 9, 2010 at 10:45 am

Not all the symbols work on every browser…

grant tailor
Jan 9, 2010 at 8:42 pm

awesome post
cool html entities
design contests for cash pizes!!!

Webmaster Barcleona
Jan 11, 2010 at 4:42 am

Excelent html entities post, thanks!

Jan 11, 2010 at 5:11 am

i cant understand this

Jan 11, 2010 at 7:44 am

Helpful, thanks for sharing

Jan 12, 2010 at 3:53 am

html symbol make it nice this thing

Jan 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

dont forget about russian quotes «кавычки»

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:18 am

Thats simply awesome. I had been using HTML for quite several years now but never realised that this is another aspect that can be used. As they say – People have their ownb perspectives and your perspective is amazing. Thanks for the lovely piece of information. Hope that I will surprise my boss too :)

Jan 12, 2010 at 8:31 pm

its good.

Loan Expert
Jan 12, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Thanks for the design concept

Jan 13, 2010 at 5:24 am

Excelent, but some symbols, don`t work on every browser…
Really helpful, Nice Post.

keith morrell
Jan 13, 2010 at 9:02 am

Great information, so many more options to choose from now :).

Jan 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

What a great way to save on having to create images. Lucky for me, I can test on many different systems. It’s these little touches that make a website fun and interesting to look at.

Jan 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I had no idea there were so many different symbols you could use in html. But you’re right, I don’t think I will be implementing the Tai Chi symbol anytime soon. Great post!

Matt Zillhardt
Jan 14, 2010 at 10:12 am

Extremely interesting. Just a shame that the entities have such poor support and render so poorly on a Windows based system. I can see these being exceptionally useful as a workaround in HTML emails for users that automatically have images turned off / email clients that cannot display images.

An even more interesting concept would be utilizing these entities as the sole design elements along with typography in a website. Think I just got my newest personal project!

Jan 14, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Sometimes I use some of those symbols, but now I know more. Very nice tutorial!

Jan 14, 2010 at 11:24 pm

It’s a shame that there are still a significant amount of users out there using XP which have ClearType turned off by default. Though I’m quite surprise that many people are not aware about the character entity reference.

Jan 15, 2010 at 2:13 am

Wonderful information, this is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

Jan 15, 2010 at 5:25 am

Thanks its very information.. Rocking..

Jan 15, 2010 at 6:24 am

Although this page is full of good info, in my opinion it is about the most UGLY Page on the net! At least use CSS to style the links so they don’t CLASH with the background.

Jan 16, 2010 at 1:27 am

Waou this is very resourceful, I wished I was here before starting my web design project. I guess I need to seriously start applying some of the resources here.

Jan 16, 2010 at 3:06 pm

This is very usefull, specially if you develop for other languages then english, like spanish, i use this on a daily basis.

Jan 19, 2010 at 5:16 am

It’s so beautiful!
My English is so poor

Steve Shearer
Jan 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I like using these where I can – Thanks for the inspiration. I went ahead and made up a reference page with the most useful ones, using 48 pixel as the font size. You can view this display here: A Designer’s Guide to HTML Symbol Entities.

Jan 20, 2010 at 3:08 am

I use » (raquo) a lot and I like ·(middot) as a separator too.

Jan 21, 2010 at 4:19 am

Great job, very handy. Too bad that most of these characters a re not supported by chrome yet – nor ie6…

Jan 25, 2010 at 1:30 pm

@julian I see all of them on my u have last release? about IE6 I don’t care about it anymore.. if everybody do like me it won’t be a problem anymore ;)
great post!

Andrew Miller
Jan 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for this very useful article (one amongst many on an inspirational site) – I can never remember these when I need them. I note that ☣ is a biohazard sign not a chemical hazard sign.

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Tanzanian designer
Feb 1, 2010 at 1:52 am

Found this tutorial very useful. I wasn’t aware of all the vast html entities. Thanks a bunch

Feb 1, 2010 at 4:05 am

Thanks for your informative post. I used to see them in Webding and Winding fonts sets :)

Feb 3, 2010 at 3:36 am

That’s amazing ! I don’t know all of this entities before, thanks for pointing it out.

Feb 9, 2010 at 3:25 am


Feb 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Found this tutorial very useful. I wasn’t aware of all the vast html entities. Thanks a bunch

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Mar 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Thank you very much,
tres helpful

Mar 25, 2010 at 1:51 am

Hmm, a lot of these don’t appear with my system. This would suggest they are not universal. However, useful to just make images out of.

Apr 12, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Very useful! Thanks a lot! :D

Web Design
Apr 28, 2010 at 9:28 pm


thank YOU :)

May 3, 2010 at 9:52 am

Fantastic post – not sure if I’ve already commented, but if so, it obviously deserves a second because I’ve come back for reference! I’ll be using these in my next project.

Jun 6, 2010 at 11:25 am

thanks… will definitely use this. ♥ so helpful.

Jun 23, 2010 at 2:01 pm

seriously, older than the internets..

Jun 26, 2010 at 11:27 pm

nice post… i’ll try this :D

code pixelz media
Jul 8, 2010 at 5:57 am

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Jul 8, 2010 at 11:51 am

great post, very informative, thanks

Jul 13, 2010 at 2:01 am

thank YOU :)

Jul 14, 2010 at 4:59 pm

thank you for share :)

Jul 15, 2010 at 6:01 am

new inspiration for me.. :)

Jul 16, 2010 at 8:30 am

Wow.. nice html :)
thanks for sharing :)

Jul 16, 2010 at 1:57 pm

great post, very informative, thanks

Jul 19, 2010 at 2:02 am

I just now from you.. .thanks. your blog is very great

Jul 19, 2010 at 8:46 pm

so inspirative… thanks for info…

Jul 20, 2010 at 2:12 am

great post, very informative, thanks

Aug 10, 2010 at 9:47 am


Oct 29, 2010 at 2:11 pm

These symbols are a great options for limiting the use of images in your designs. Alternatively, you can also create your own fonts via Cufon that are image fonts that will do the same thing and still allowing you to control size and color. Great post though…

Nov 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm

i’ve never thought that there could be so many useful icon already included in the system charset. thanks for sharing.

Nov 23, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Useful tutorial. I was not aware of so much like these. It gives new idea as well as suggestions about design. Surely I will use it for making my designing more creative.

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Dec 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm

thanks for the note on using apostrophe instead of prime . . . to think i been doin’ it wrong for the past 15+ years.

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