How to Type Alpha in Google Docs

383695 How to Type Alpha in Google Docs

The Greek letter alpha (α) is a commonly used symbol in math, science, and engineering. Typing special characters like alpha on a regular keyboard can be difficult, but Google Docs provides a few quick methods to insert α into your documents.

Use the Insert Menu

The easiest way to type alpha is by using the insert menu:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to insert α
  2. Go to Insert > Special characters
  3. In the Search box, type “alpha”
  4. Select α from the search results on the left
  5. Click Insert to add it to your document

You can also draw the alpha symbol in the box on the right if you prefer.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Google Docs supports keyboard shortcuts for inserting many common symbols.

To type α using your keyboard:

  1. Place your cursor where you want to insert α
  2. While holding down Alt (on Windows) or Option (on Mac), type 224 using the numeric keypad
  3. Release the Alt/Option key and α will appear

Here are shortcuts for some other Greek letters:

  • α – Alt + 224
  • β – Alt + 225
  • γ – Alt + 226
  • δ – Alt + 235

Make sure to use the numeric keypad on the right side of your keyboard, not the numbers above the main keys.

Create a Custom Shortcut

If you need to insert α frequently, you can create a custom keyboard shortcut:

  1. Go to Tools > Preferences
  2. Click the Substitutions tab
  3. Under Custom shortcuts, click Add shortcut
  4. In the Phrase box, type “alpha”
  5. In the Shortcut box, type your desired key combo, like “Alt+A”
  6. Click OK

Now you can type your shortcut (“alpha” or “Alt+A”) to insert α anywhere in your document.

Use Auto Replace

The auto replace feature will automatically insert α whenever you type a specific text shortcut.

To enable:

  1. Go to Tools > Preferences
  2. Click the Substitutions tab
  3. Under Replace, enter “aalpha” in the left box
  4. Enter “α” in the right box
  5. Click OK

Now if you ever need an α, just type “aalpha” followed by a space or punctuation. Google Docs will instantly replace it with the Greek letter.

Copy and Paste

If the above options don’t work for you, you can always copy α from a website like Wikipedia and paste it into your document.

To paste without formatting:

  • Windows: Ctrl + Shift + V
  • Mac: ⌘ + Shift + V

This will insert the plain text alpha symbol.

Tips for Using Alpha

  • If you need the capital letter (Α), use the same methods but search for “Alpha”
  • To insert multiple alphas, double click it from the special characters window
  • Make sure Fonts that support Greek letters are installed on your computer

Using the special characters window or keyboard shortcuts are the fastest ways to insert α. But for occasional use, copy/paste works fine too.

Common Uses of the Alpha Symbol

The Greek letter alpha represents different concepts across academic fields:

Math and Science

  • Angle measurement
  • Coefficient of thermal expansion
  • Orbital energy quantum number
  • Alpha radiation/particles
  • Statistical significance level
  • Lagrange multipliers
  • Plane angle in spherical coordinates


  • Denotes a gain or attenuation
  • Indicates a camera aperture
  • Represents a coefficient of thermal expansion
  • Identifies a type of particle


  • Alpha coefficient of an investment
  • Measure of performance compared to a benchmark


  • Used in the International Phonetic Alphabet

As you can see, alpha has broad uses in technical fields for both Greek variables as well as other domain-specific concepts. Knowing how to quickly insert α into Google Docs saves time and effort while typing math and science documents.