Asterisk

Updated: 06/02/2020 by Computer Hope
Asterisk

Sometimes called a star, big dot, and multiplication symbol, the asterisk is a symbol ( * ) found above the "8" key on standard US keyboards and on the number pad.

Where is the asterisk key on the keyboard?

Below is an overview of a computer keyboard with the asterisk key highlighted in blue on the main keyboard and the numeric keypad.

Asterisk key

How to create the * symbol

Creating the * symbol on a U.S. keyboard

To create an asterisk using a U.S. keyboard, hold down the Shift and press 8 on the keyboard.

Tip

The asterisk is easier to use on the numeric keypad with math formulas.

Creating the * symbol on a smartphone or tablet

To create an asterisk on a smartphone or tablet, open the keyboard, go into the numbers (123) section, and then the (#+=) or symbols (sym) section. Press your finger on the * symbol.

What is an asterisk used for on a computer?

Below are examples of how the asterisk is used on a computer.

An asterisk in a math formula

In a math formula, an asterisk is used to represent a multiplication (times). For example, in the below formula you can see that 5 <times> 2 is equal to 10.

5 * 2 = 10

An asterisk in a wildcard

The asterisk represents a wildcard or wild character with computers. For example, when typing *.TXT in a search or find field, the computer would look for any file ending with .TXT.

An asterisk in computer programming

Another example of an asterisk is in the nonexecutable statement used with some programming languages. For example, in the following PHP code, the comment "hidden text" would not show when executed because it is surrounded by a forward slash and an asterisk.

<?php
/* hidden text */
echo "hello world";
?>

In Python and other programming languages, a ** (double asterisk) can be used as an operator to calculate the power of a number. For example, i**j would be "i" to the power of "j" in the script.

A star symbol in a spreadsheet program

In spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, a star symbol (asterisk) is used in formulas for multiplication. For example, in the following formula cell A1 is multiplied by cell B1.

=sum(A1*B1)

An asterisk as a reference

Finally, an asterisk is also commonly used as a reference mark in a document.

Bullet, Keyboard terms, Number key, Wildcard