Plus-Minus Symbol

±We can imagine how the world is if there are no mathematical signs and rules. Life would be too busy and arduous if there is no assistance of mathematics in over daily work. There are numerous math symbols, each having a specific purpose and contribution in bringing convenience to calculations and identification purposes. One of these symbols, plus-minus, is also well known for its assistance in various mathematical calculations and equations like quadratic formula, which has vital significance in solving quadratic equations.

The importance of knowledge of plus-minus, plus-minus signs, their implementation in different situations, how to type its symbol in different software in this versatile world can never be neglected. In this article, we’ll discuss about the plus-minus sign, its usage, significance, how to type it in different software, its coding, and all those things that one should one while dealing with the plus-minus sign.

What Is Plus Minus Sign In Mathematics And Calculation Process?

Robert Record introduced a plus-minus sign in 1557 in Great Britain. He is also the one who designed the equal symbol before introducing plus-minus. Although plus-minus has a wide range of meanings according to the field in which we are using it, in mathematics, it mainly refers to a dual condition in which first addition is performed, and in the second situation, subtraction is performed with the value attached to the plus-minus symbol. By doing this, we get two values, one added value and the second subtraction value. However, it is also popularly used in physics in measurements to show the variation in the precision and accuracy of the measurement.

In mathematical formulas, the plus-minus symbol represents the symbol that may be replaced by plus or minus. It means that in the given value, we can add or subtract a specific figure or value.

For instance, given a value with a plus-minus sign like this x2= 25, the possible solution one may give is x=±5. The equation has two solutions, one obtained by adding the five and the other result by subtracting 5. Only one out of these two replaced equations is true for any valid equation.

Other example, the plus-minus sign is used to represent the precision of an approximation. The result “20±0.5” means that the final value can be between “20+0.5,” which is 20.5 and “20-0.5,” which is 19.5.

When To Use The Sign Of Plus Minus?

The plus-minus sign is commonly used in such situations where we have to represent the two different situations. The reason is that this symbol itself is composed of a combination of two different signs, giving rise to a new symbol, having qualities of both signs.

This specific sign can add or remove a particular value to a final value, producing two new possible values. Besides, the plus-minus sign is used widely in mathematics and other fields of science. Still, the common usage of the plus minus sign is in quadratic formula and equation. However, the use of plus over minus sign is not confined to mathematics, the use of plus over minus sign in physics, especially in measurements, can’t be neglected.

The perfect example of the usage of the plus minus sign is the quadratic formula shown below.

Quadratic formulaAs shown above, the plus minus sign is the primary part of the quadratic formula. Without it the formula itself is jack-squad. The presence of ± sign indicates that x has two possible values, one with the + sign means obtained by addition and the other with the – sign, which shows that the second possibility will be obtained by subtracting.

How To Type A Plus-Minus Sign?

Commonly typing English on any software or device is not too complex to understand. While typing mathematical symbols and signs, one should know specific keys and short keys according to different software and devices. Being a beginner, one can face difficulty in typing a plus-minus sign in this growing variety of software and devices. Now we will learn how to type plus-minus signs on different platforms.

plus-minus sign-type plus-minus symbol on windows

How To Type a Plus Minus Sign On Keyboard

Although there is no specific key on a normal keyboard for the plus minus sign, you can still type it through the alt method. To write a plus-minus sign on the keyboard, press and hold the alt key and the alt code simultaneously, which is 0177. This 0177 is called the alt code for plus-minus.

plus-minus sign-type plus-minus symbol on Mac

How To Type a Plus Minus Sign On Mac

The typing pattern and codes on apple computers are quite different from other brands. If you are an Apple computer user and want to type plus-minus sign in your assignment or documentation, press and hold the option and shift keys and at the same time type the equal and plus keys on the top row.

plus-minus sign-type plus-minus symbol in word or excel

How To Type Plus Minus Sign In Word/Excel

The keys and method used to type plus-minus in the word or excel document are the same as that in a normal keypad. To type plus-minus in the word, press and hold the alt key, and at a time type 0177.

The second way, click the insert tab on the top of document menu, Then click ‘symbols’ option on the top right side, choose the ‘Latin-1 Supplement’ subset on the pop-up window the get the plus-minus sign.

Codes Of Plus Minus Sign

In computer science and languages, different coding standards exist that are used to type different symbols and equations. Here are some language codes that are used to type plus minus sign.

Frequently Asked Questions

Several questions has been asked related to plus-minus sign. People are often get confused about its usage and intermix, let’s discuss the frequently asked questions below:

  • 1. How to use plus-minus sign?
    In mathematics, the ± sign is used when we have to show the two possibilities of the desired value, one that can be obtained by addition and the other by subtraction. Means there are two possible answers of the initial value. In science it is significantly used to show the standard deviation, experimental errors and measurement errors
  • 2. What is the difference between plus-minus (±) and minus-plus (∓)?
    There is no specific difference when we type plus over minus symbol or when we type minus over plus symbol. The function of both the symbols is same. When signs are used in an expression then positive value should be written with negative and negative value with positive one.

    E.g. (x∓ 8) (x±6) it means (x- 8) (x+8) and (x+8) (x-6)

  • 3. Are codes necessary for different signs in computer science and languages?
    Yes. There are different codes for various signs as per character encoding standards. They are helpful when you’re dealing with computer languages as these codes are helpful for computer understanding in order to have better and quick work done.
  • 4. Is it easy to type plus minus sign on different software?
    It is an easy to type it on multiple places. You can type it on MS word, Excel, PowerPoint and other software easily with following the steps that are mentioned in this articles. Follow them and type as many time as you want to.


Considering the importance of plus-minus sign in the quadratic formula, its importance can never be neglected. If you want to type this sign on your keyboard, MAC or in word/excel, you need to follow certain methods. Moreover, codes of the plus-minus sign are necessary to type equations.

In order to understand the plus minus sign you need to keep in mind that something either will be added or subtracted because double signs show the both possibilities. This sign has wide importance not only in mathematical problems but it also has significant role in computer science languages.

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