Cell dingbats have always seem strange curiosity to me.

It seems they are important enough that Wolfram gave them their own place in the format menu. But to me... they seem like novelty items, with little use. A cool graphic in front of cell but limited to only a predefined list... including the smiley face,sad face, lightbulb, watch, etc...

Why are dingbats important enough to warrant them being listed in the format menu? Do they have some functionality I'm not aware of? What is it? And is there a reason why Wolfram limits us to those particular graphics? Why limit us? Some of their choices seem child like to me. And the rest seem useless. No offense to children. : )


Echo uses a special CellDingbat as a visual indicator to distinguish the "Echo" cells from the normal "Output" cells. One can mimic them using, e.g.,

CellPrint @ Cell[BoxData["Test"], "Print"
  , CellDingbat -> Replace[CellDingbat, CurrentValue[{StyleDefinitions, "Echo"}]]]


Hence CellDingbats are useful to visually differentiate between different kinds of in- or output cells.


They can be used for bullet lists.

There's no limitation on what or how many characters you can use. See the CellDingbat option.

  • $\begingroup$ Bullet lists! This makes sense. All the strange characters through me off. But bullet lists are definitely something functional they can be used for. TY $\endgroup$ – Michael McCain Oct 1 '16 at 10:25

In making notebooks intended to be seen by other people, I often use the watch cell dingbat to indicate that the code in that particular input cell will take a long time to evaluate. Less often, I use the light bulb one to emphasize a cell with particularly neat code. Otherwise, like Szabolcs, I use them for bullets.


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