8

Which Unicode symbol that normally looks like two lines crossed together properly represents multiplication and what do the other Unicode characters that look like it mean?

And bonus points, how do I properly insert that character on Mac?

Here are some candidates:

× U+00D7 Multiplication Sign

✕ U+2715 Multiplication X

5
  • 2
    Both can represent multiplication.
    – Vikas
    Jul 28, 2021 at 5:21
  • 3
    Depending on the locale and persornal preference, the "Dot Operator" U+22C5 is also commonly used.
    – towe
    Jul 29, 2021 at 5:43
  • 1
    The bonus question is probably better suited for Ask Different. FWIW, I'd like to know the answer to that one too: my (Finnish) Mac keyboard layout has Alt key combinations for ·, ÷, ±, ≤, ≥, ≈, ≠ and √ (and even the U+2044 fraction slash "⁄" used to form arbitrary common fractions like 72⁄23), but apparently none for ×. Jul 29, 2021 at 8:36
  • 1
    @IlmariKaronen For uncommon symbols, I use the character picker (the same one that you use for emoji and can access in most apps with ctrl-cmd-space). If you click on the icon next to the search bar, it expands into a larger general-purpose picker (which it will revert to when you subsequently call it up). In the left is another icon that lets you customize the list. Math symbols is one of the options and there in the first row is × as desired, along with plenty of other symbols for mathematical use. Jul 30, 2021 at 3:37
  • @IlmariKaronen: Also, if you enable Unicode Hex Input in your Mac's keyboard settings, you can enter the character by holding down the Option key and typing its hexadecimal codepoint identifier. (One wrinkle; if you try to enter a supplementary character - one with five or six hex digits in its identifier, such as U+1F3F3 or U+10325F - you'll need to convert the codepoint into a UTF-16 surrogate pair, and then enter the codepoint identifier for the high surrogate of the pair, followed immediately by that for the low surrogate of the pair.)
    – Vikki
    Dec 28, 2021 at 5:18

5 Answers 5

25

U+2715 (“Multiplikation X”) is in the Dingbats block. Therefore, it’s for ornamental usage (if anything) and not for communicating mathematical relations. There is no reason to expect that any font renders it in a way that would be appropriate for a mathematical operator, in particular I would expect it to be to bold and large for this purpose. Using it for normal mathematics is like using U+2757 (❗, heavy exclamation mark symbol) instead of a regular exclamation mark.

By contrast U+00D7 (×) is intended for multiplication as indicated by an explicit multiplication sign missing from the Mathematical Operators block. You can expect it to be properly aligned with the numbers and match other mathematical operators in size and style.

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  • 3
    I could see the dingbat character being useful for making printed educational materials for elementary school arithmetic, ie : [ 5 ✕ 5 = ? ], only because it seems more common to use large and easy to identify symbols when teaching early arithmetic and we don't really care about idiomatic unicode in such a circumstance.
    – J...
    Jul 28, 2021 at 16:19
  • 1
    Using this symbol in science, U+D7 is the universal answer (this gives the same glyph as html × or TeX's $\times$ in most if not all cases)
    – Chris H
    Jul 29, 2021 at 9:49
  • Another closely relate indication is that U+2715 (and the bold version U+2716) are immediately in between the check marks and the "ballot X"s. It seems odd that the names refer to multiplication at all
    – Chris H
    Jul 30, 2021 at 15:16
4

If your application target a community of developer, you can also use the * sign. This asterisk symbol is commonly used by programming languages to do multiplication.

You can find it on wikipedia

3

I have actually been faced with this issue a few times in my design work, and eventually ended up using the smaller × every single time.

About using this on a Mac, you can probably google that, also you need to make sure this character exists in the font you are using. Some fonts have a limited character set and may not include the ×.

1

U+00B7 can also represent multiplication.

5·5 = 25
0

If you want your content to be copy+paste-able into a calculator then use the asterisk *

Aside from that you should use whatever is consistent with the locale you're targeting.

Heck, 2 x 3 can be represented by 2(3) but depending on your audience it may not be appropriate.

1
  • If you use Mac and open Spotlight (Command-Space) then paste in numbers with various multiple of the options above, then some of them and some don't. I thought this was interesting. Jul 31, 2021 at 20:50

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