The Caret Symbol: How to Use It and What It Means

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

The caret symbol may look familiar from your middle school editing lessons, but how can it be used for typed text? 

This informal symbol indicates basic editing needs, directs attention to previously written materials, and even works for mathematical equations. And, if you are unsure where it is located and how it should be used, this article helps to explain all you need to know. 

What is the Caret Symbol?

The caret (^) is a typographical symbol (not a punctuation mark) that can be used in various fields to indicate different things. In writing, it is commonly seen in proofreading and informal writing situations. It is also used in mathematics and computer programming.

Where is the Caret Symbol Located on a Keyboard?

The caret character is found on the number 6 key at the top of the keyboard. You need to hit shift and then the 6 key to access it. 

When accessing the caret key on a tablet or smartphone qwerty keyboard, you must go into the special characters keyboard or symbol library keyboard shortcuts to find it. It is often used in informal text and chat and is usually easy to spot. 

What is a Caret Used For?

As mentioned, the caret symbol has a few uses in various fields. 

You will commonly use the caret for proofreading and informal writing situations, such as text or chat. It is still a popular handwriting choice for proofreading to indicate where additional words or punctuation should be included. 

It can also be used in the same manner when editing typed text. To do this, use the caret insertion followed by the missing text or punctuation to indicate where it belongs. For example, I went to ^the store. 

What Does the Caret Symbol Mean in Texting?

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You can type single or multiple carets in text and chat to indicate a previous post or message. For example, ^^^agree! 

It can also be used to draw emojis or pictures in text. 

What Does the Caret Symbol Mean in Math?

As a math symbol, the caret symbol signifies exponentiation to raise one number by the power of another. For example, 5^2 or 5 raised to the power of 2. 

What Does the Caret Symbol Mean in Computer Programming?

It can be used in computer programming code and also is a shorthand version of the “control” (ctrl) key. For example, instead of writing CTRL-X, you can use ^X.

Let’s Review

The caret symbol is rarely used in writing but has significant use for editing suggestions and in informal text and chat. It also makes an appearance in math and computer programming.

Located above the six on the numerical number line, it is easy to access by first hitting the shift key on a keyboard. It also is easy to find on screen keyboards on tablets and smartphones.