1.32 FAQ-149 How to insert Greek symbols and subscript in plot legends and axis titles from worksheet headers?

Last Update: 1/4/2018

Graph Axis Titles and Legends are special text labels that are generated from programmatically-linked data stored in the worksheet header rows.

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Related FAQ:: FAQ-148 How Do I Insert Special Characters into Text Labels, Worksheet Cells and Dialog Boxes?

Entering Special Characters into Worksheet Header Rows

Preferred method, Origin 2018 SR0 and later: Prior to Origin 2018, you had to enable rich text to enter special characters into the worksheet header row cells (column label rows). By default, rich text is enabled only in the worksheet Units row. In Origin 2018, it is not necessary to enable rich text to add Unicode characters to worksheet cells.

Double-click into the worksheet cell to enter edit mode, then:

  • Enter the 4-character hex code for a (Unicode) codepoint (e.g. 03BB for "λ"), then press ALT+X. The codepoint is inserted.
  • Open the Character Map by pressing CTRL+M, or right-click and choose Character Map. Browse to find your codepoint or enter the 4-character hex code for a codepoint and click Insert.

When inserting Unicode characters using the 4-character hex code and ALT+X, if the currently selected font does not include the character, you will have to switch fonts. For guidance on which fonts support which characters, you can check this external website

If you want to use Format toolbar buttons (e.g. subscript or superscript), you will need to enable rich text (see next paragraph).

If you want to save the project with special characters in worksheet cells to opj format to share it with others who only have Origin2017 and earlier version, you will need to enable rich text and use Symbol Map dialog to insert special characters. See detailed steps in "Preferred method, Origin 9.0 to 2017 SR2" section below.

Preferred method, Origin 9.0 to 2017 SR2: These versions of Origin do not support Unicode or the ALT+X method of character entry. In order to enter special characters into the worksheet, you must enable rich text.

Origin versions 9.0 and later support rich text for both the header (column label row) and data portions of the worksheet. You will need to enable rich text (it is on, by default, only in the header Units row), before adding special characters by Symbol Map, or when using the Format toolbar buttons (Greek, Super/Subscript, etc.) to format text.

Enable rich text by right-clicking on a row or cell in the worksheet and choosing Set object Style: Rich Text from the bottom of the shortcut menu. With rich text enabled, you can use the Origin Symbol Map and the Format toolbar without restriction.

Preferred method, versions prior to 9.0 In earlier versions, you can also format text in worksheet column labels using Escape Sequences.
The shortcoming here is that some formatting options -- for instance, subscript and superscript -- do not display properly in the worksheet (e.g. \+(o) will convert the symbol "o" to superscript in the graph legend or axis title but the worksheet cell is only capable of displaying the escape sequence notation).

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Setting up the graph to use worksheet header row data in legends and axis titles

Legend Text Customization: Double-click on the graph window to open Plot Details. In the left panel select the graph icon, then on the Legends/Titles tab to the right, set the Auto Legend Translation mode to use your header text. If none of the available options works for you (note that there is an @U: Long Name & Units option), choose Custom and see Legend Text Customization.

Axis title customization: There are two controls on the Legend/Titles tab that are useful for configuring axis titles to use worksheet information. For information on this and further axis title customization, see Axis Dialog Box, Title Text.

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You can save your graph legend and axis title customizations with your graph template by choosing File: Save Template As. For more information, see Origin Template Files.

Keywords:Unicode, ALT+X, angstrom, degree, math, German umlaut, diaeresis, acute, tilde, accent mark, macron, circumflex, Planck's Constant, Planck, Pi, superscript, subscript, worksheet headers