I am looking for a way, preferably with symbols, to denote a winner, loser, or tieโ€”or, thought of another wayโ€”good, bad, or neutral.

For instance, in a table of features, to indicate that the feature is included, there might be a check mark, and if the feature isn't included there might be an x mark.

In another example, if comparing two products for features, you may want to denote which product implements the feature better, or worse, or neutrally. In that "neutral" case, is there a particular character that is more recognizable as such?

I'm looking at the following three unicode checkmarks from Wikipedia:

 U+2713 โœ“ CHECK MARK

And at the following 'x' marks also from Wikipedia:

 U+2717 โœ— BALLOT X (cross)
 U+2718 โœ˜ HEAVY BALLOT X (bold cross)

Since there is a heavy check mark and a heavy ballot x, I'm thinking of using those two, but I guess where I'm really struggling is what to use for the "neutral" symbol. Is it just a dash? again from Wikipedia:

 figure dash    โ€’   U+2012
 en dash        โ€“   U+2013  
 em dash        โ€”   U+2014
 horizontal bar โ€•   U+2015  
 swung dash     โ“   U+2053

If so, which one: hyphen, en dash, em dash, something I haven't heard of yet? Do I use one, or I've read a bit about three dashes, but that doesn't seem to pertain. Maybe two dashes means something?

I should also note that my particular ask is for a professional situation. Smile (๐Ÿ™‚), frown (๐Ÿ™), and straight faced (๐Ÿ˜) might work in another setting, but probably not for my specific situation.

Is my sense right, and these are archetypal symbols, or are there some other symbols that get me closer to communicating good, bad or indifferent?

  • =, ~ ......
    – xenoid
    Nov 4, 2017 at 13:25
  • Nice ideas.....
    – Jason D.
    Nov 5, 2017 at 22:51
  • 1
    Semantically there is a major difference between winner, looser and tie versus good, bad, neutral. The first series always involves at least two objects, so having two + -, - +, = = is almost self-explaining if the context of competition is clear. But good, bad, neutral is harder to do, and can have much more meaning depending on context and definitons. If you use + and - for good and bad, then 0 would be a logical choice for neutral; but seen on its own (or for certain customer cultures) could have negative connotations. Calling a person a zero is a known insult... Nov 9, 2017 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


Universal symbols for positive (i.e., good): + (plus sign), ^ (up arrow) Universal symbols for negative (not good): - (minus sign), down arrow

Also, filled and unfilled circles, along with color variation, can indicate opposite values. Consumer reports has used filled, unfilled, and half-filled circles for years in their ratings tables. See below:

Example of Consumer Reports report]1

  • Thank you for your answer. Do you have a source for the information given in the first couple of lines? I respect it as opinion, and would agree that, in a general sense, those symbols are used as you describe them, but it would be nice to be able to put some hard facts behind the opinions as well.
    – Jason D.
    Nov 6, 2017 at 20:58
  • 1
    The meaning of the symbol + as "positive" and - as "negative" is literally universal throughout the sciences and mathematics: Ions, batteries, circuits, electrical fields, exponents, integers, and on and on. I can't think of one perfect citation for that.
    – user8356
    Nov 7, 2017 at 14:19

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