What Do the Symbols on a Multimeter Mean?

In any electrical-related work, one of the essential tools that you can rely on is a multimeter. This handheld tester is for electricians and beginners who want to learn how to use it. If you are a beginner, you should know what the symbols on a multimeter mean and how the device works

What Do the Symbols on a Multimeter Mean?

See also: Best Solder for Electronics

What is a Multimeter?

A multimeter works like a multi-tool. It can measure not only electrical voltage but also current and resistance. Moreover, it is a useful tool for conducting simple tests or troubleshooting electrical problems.

The device is also known as a volt-ohm meter, and it has two versions, analog and digital. Both have multimeter symbols, but the latter is more convenient and gives accurate data. Whatever option you prefer, the first thing you should do is learn how to read the symbols on multimeter.

What are the Primary Components of a Multimeter?

Components of a MultimeterThough there are various models out there, you can see the following primary components of a multimeter in a standard multimeter device.

Display screen

It is where you can see the measurements.


Through the buttons, you can control the system and adjust.

Rotary Dia

It allows you to choose the unit of measurement you prefer.

Input Port

With these ports, you can insert the test leads or wires.

See more: How to Use a Desoldering Pump

What Do the Symbols on a Multimeter Mean?

Both analog and digital meters have the same primary functions and operations. But for testing other values aside from the three different aspects of electricity, you will need an advanced multimeter.

Although you have no idea about other multimeter models, you can notice more symbols than words. Below are the different multimeter symbols and what they mean.

AC Voltage

With this setting, you can measure the voltage of an object. Look for the capital “V” with a wavy or squiggly line on top. But the voltmeter symbols in a circuit diagram do not have any line on top. Instead, you can see a “V” that is enclosed in a circle. Whenever you work on a project, you will often use this setting.

AC Voltage

Shift: Hertz

You can see this symbol on top of the AC voltage with the “Hz” letters. It is for measuring the frequency of a device or circuit.

DC Voltage

The DC voltage symbol on a multimeter is different from the volts AC symbol. When you see a “V” with 3 hyphens above along with one line on top of the hyphens, you can be sure it is the DC voltage. It is useful for measuring smaller circuits.

DC Voltage

AC Millivolts

The symbol for this setting is mV with a wavy line on top. You can use it for testing smaller circuits using low AC voltage settings. This multimeter circuit symbol is different from the DC millivolts symbol.

Shift DC Millivolts

As for the shift DC millivolts, it is different from the multimeter DC symbol. You can distinguish this setting through the letters mV that has 3 hyphens on top and a straight line over them.


The symbol for ohms is quite similar to that of the omega letter. It allows you to read the measurement of resistance accurately. With this setting, you can check the wires and test the state of a circuit.


Diode Test

The symbol for this is an arrow pointing to the right with a plus sign beside it. Through this setting, you can check the condition of the diodes.

Diode Test


Some multimeter models have this symbol. It is useful for preventing any fake measurements due to a ghost voltage.


The symbol of continuity in a multimeter is like that of a sound. This setting helps you to find short or open circuits.

Shift Capacitance

The two “T” facing each other on the device is the multimeter capacitance symbol. You can use this setting whenever you need to measure capacitance.

Alternating Current (AC)

You can see a capital “A” with a wavy line on top, and this symbol represents the alternating current catch.

DC Current

The capital “A” with a dotted line on top and a solid bar above it represents the DC.

Current Jack

When you see a jack on the device with an “A” above it, you can be sure it is the current jack. You can only use it whenever you need to connect either a clamp attachment or a red lead to measure them.

Common Jack

It is in between two other jacks. This jack’s color is black, and you can see the letters “COM” above it. Although it is compatible with both estimations and measurements, it is necessary to test it first.

Common Jack

Red Track

The red track can help you with all tests you will work on, such as temperature and recurrence.

Brightness Indicator

It allows you to increase the multimeter’s brightness level for convenient research and measurement, especially when using the device outdoors.

Aside from the above symbols on a multimeter, you can also see the following buttons. Check them out for you to know how these buttons work.

Hold Button

Whenever you take measurements, press the Hold button to save the results. Since you can keep the results, you can proceed with your project and check them later.

Min/Max Button

With this button, it allows you to save input values.

Range Button

Through the Range button, you can click through meter ranges.

Function Button

With this button, you can activate secondary functions around the dial. It is like the Ctrl or Alt key on a computer keyboard. Even if you cannot see the word “Function” in the device, a yellow text or icons allows you to identify it.


As mentioned above, one of the primary functions of a multimeter is to measure the three aspects of electricity. When you look at the device for the first time, you can quickly notice the volts symbol on multimeter, including the current and resistance. By familiarizing yourself with its features and the symbols, it will be easy for you to use the device. Note that it is not only for electricians but for everyone who wants to solve electrical issues in the future.

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