Multimeter Symbols – Everything you need to know!

In this article, we’ll explain multimeter symbols in detail with a brief overview of their function.

Multimeter Symbols

If you are new to electronics and recently brought, or intending to buy a multimeter and unaware of how it works?

You haven’t used certain settings and want to know which multimeter symbols represent which functions and how they differ from each other?

You might be a student who is preparing for his exams but confused about few symbols present on the multimeter?

Then sit tight as we are going to give a detailed explanation of symbols on a multimeter with a brief explanation of their function and slight insight on how to read a multimeter.  


Why knowing about multimeter symbols is important?


You may never have considered this but testing with the wrong multimeter settings can be disastrous both for the multimeter and the user operating it. For example, if you are checking the continuity but your unit is on the volt measurement mode, it can potentially be very dangerous.

So, pay attention to this article if you are a beginner!


The multimeter shown in the figure is Fluke 117 and we’ll be using it as a reference in explaining each symbol with the label starting from 1 to 14.

All other units in the market have the same multimeter functions represented by the same symbols with a little difference in the overall layout. So, understanding these symbols once will be lifetime knowledge for you.

Do note, one can only activate yellow-coloured symbols by pressing the shift button. Just press it and set the dial to the desired parameter.


Multimeter Symbols and Their Operations

Label on MultimeterSymbol on Multimeter
Number 1Hold Button
Number 2AC Voltage
Shift + Number 2Hertz (Frequency)
Number 3DC Voltage
Number 4Continuity
Number 5Direct Current
Number 6 Current Jack
Number 7Jack
Number 8Range Button
Number 9Brightness Button
Number 10AC/DC MilliVolts
Number 11Resistance (Ohms)
Number 12Diode Test
Shift +Number 12Capacitance
Number 13Alternating Current

Number 1: Hold Button:

When the user is busy during testing the circuits with probes are connected with the circuit, it is, sometimes, difficult for him to note or even see the measured value.

So, the ‘hold’ function gives him this flexibility of freezing the screen that remained saved on the screen even when the probes are disconnected. Thus, by giving enough time to the user to do the experiment comfortably.


Number 2: AC Voltage Symbol:

Label 2 on the multimeter represents a symbol for AC volts. Whether you are testing on job sites or in-home, you would be frequently measuring AC voltage. The measured value would range between 100-240 volts and that would totally depend on the area where you live.  

SHIFT + Number 2: Hertz.

Hertz is the unit of frequency, so while measuring the frequency of your circuit, you’ll have to adjust the knob on this setting.

But make sure the operating frequency of the equipment lies in the operating range of the multimeter. Otherwise, ‘OL’ or ‘OR’ will be displayed on-screen which indicates the measuring value is out of range.


Number 3:  DC Voltage

For testing home batteries, automotive lights, small electronic circuits in your shop, and in many other applications, the DC voltage setting will be frequently used. In fact, in nearly 99% of cases, you’ll be dealing with DC voltage supplies.


Number 4: Continuity Symbol

Label number 4 represents the symbol of continuity. This functionality is useful for finding short and open circuits as it verifies the electrical connection between any two points in a circuit.

If a connection exists, the meter will beep with an audible tone to notify the user. In some meters, LED also brightens up for confirmation, or it shows some sort of signal on the screen.


Number 5: Direct Current

Label number 5 represents the direct current symbol. Just like DC voltage, a direct current setting measuring the amperage that any circuit or appliance is drawing. This feature will be most handy in your lab work.

Most of the clamp meters don’t have the direct current measurement capability so choose a unit very carefully. Label number 5 represents DC current symbol and do take notice that ac and dc symbols are different.


Number 6: Current Jack

While measuring the current, the test lead or clamp attachment is inserted into the current jack. The measured data in amps or milliamps will be shown on the screen.

Do keep in mind that if you are buying a clamp meter instead of a traditional multimeter, you won’t see this feature in it as the current is measured via jaw instead of direct connection.   


Number 8: Range Button

Range button, present on the multimeters shifts the multimeter to a new range of being measured parameter.

Let’s say you are measuring resistance in ohms then pressing the range button once will shift the measuring range to megaohms. On the auto-ranging mode, these ranges are automatically selected so the range button isn’t there.


Number 9: Brightness Button

The brightness button increases or decreases the brightness of the LCD backlight to adjust the screen visibility according to the surrounding light intensity. Few units don’t have this feature. So, don’t get confused if you don’t find it on the interface.


Number 10: AC/DC Millivolts

Extremely low voltage values, especially while testing small circuits, can’t be measured on normal voltage settings. So, you’ll have to switch the multimeter on millivolts measuring mode to get accurate results. Few multimeters miss this functionality, so, pay special attention while buying it. Just like the millivolts symbol, the microamps symbol is the combination of prefixes with the A symbol in front of it.


Number 11: Ohms

Label 11 represents Ohms symbols. This digital multimeter setting measures the resistance of any electronic part. By measuring the resistance of a known resistor, one can check the accuracy of the multimeter.

Similarly, testing fuses is also pretty easy with a digital multimeter. If the meter reads ‘OL’ that means the fuse has blown out. Otherwise, it’s in working condition. , which is measured in ohms.


Number 12: Diode Test

The diode test setting is the most trusted way of verifying whether the diodes, you’ve in your tool kit, are in a functioning state or not.

SHIFT + Label 12: Capacitance

Pressing the shift while turning the multimeter knob to label number 12, activates the capacitance measuring mode.

The capacitance symbol is represented in yellow color along with the diode test symbol. For measuring the capacitance of capacitors, the capacitance setting is present in multimeters.

However, you’ll have to take special care in measuring this parameter. This is because most of the capacitors have some residual charge left in them even with no present power supply. So, first, discharge it and then connect probes at its end.


Number 13: Alternating Current

For measuring the load that any appliance is drawing, an alternating current test is used. One can normally check it using an additional clamp attachment. Bear in mind, a symbol for alternating current is different in the case of AC and DC. So, set them right.


How does the volt ac symbol look like on multimeter?

Volt AC symbol is represented by a Voltage symbol ‘V’ with a fluctuating curve on it and you can easily differentiate it from volt dc which is represented by a straight line over ’V’.

What is the symbol of volt on multimeter?

The symbol of the voltmeter is ‘V’. Bear in mind, this is a universally accepted symbol so whenever you see a V voltmeter symbol, it represents voltage.


Final Thoughts!

This is the list of all multimeter symbols, parameters, and their use. Till now, it would be quite evident to you which meter symbol represents which function and vice versa.

Obviously, all multimeter brands accept the international standard and represent symbol this way.

Still, knowing the symbols isn’t enough so, limit yourself in performing the basic testing only. If you are a beginner with no testing experience, hire a professional for high power troubleshooting.


Check Out Product Reviews by Cristina Criado

Leave a Comment