What do the symbols on a multimeter mean? – The most detailed instruction

A multimeter can come in handy when it comes to electrical-related business.

But it can be confusing in the first place for sure since there are too many symbols, buttons, switches on it.

So, what do the symbols on a multimeter mean?

If you tend to work with electricity regularly or just have the need to understand the tool better for future work, then this article is solely made for you.

After this detailed instruction, you will have a clear understanding of how to read and operate a multimeter by yourself safely and technically correctly.


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What do the symbols on a multimeter mean

What is a multimeter?

A multimeter is a handy tool used to measure different aspects of electricity such as current (in amps), voltage (in volts), resistance (in ohms) of a device that you want to its electrical output’s value.

There are two kinds of multimeters that are frequently used on the market: analog and digital meters.

Digital meters are more popular between the two types of multimeters due to its convenience and accurate measuring details.

Despite the difference between any types of multimeter, a standard multimeter device must the five elements below:

  • The screen where you can read the measurements
  • The buttons to adjust and control the system
  • A rotary dial to decide the electrical you want to value
  • The input ports for test leads.
  •  Test leads are the wires that connected the multimeter to the device you want to measure its electrical statement.
  • And last but not least, the number to tell the value of your desired electrical measurement.

What do the symbols on a multimeter mean?

The units 

Looking at a multimeter for the first time, you may have no clue about what this machine is.

You have known that this is the device used to measure voltage, current, and resistance, but you can’t find those keywords anywhere on a multimeter.

Well, do not freak out, and let’s start to take things slowly.

Remember that the three electricity elements can be presented respectively by their units: V, A, and Ω.

Most multimeters use these three symbols to spell out the value instead of using full words.

Once you are familiar with them, follow up for more symbols understanding.

Most multimeters utilize metric prefixes to show the most accurate measurements.

  • K for kilo means time 1000x.
  • M for mega means times million.
  • m for milli and means 1/1000.
  • (µ) for micro means one-millionth.

Put it together with the units, we have:

  • kV means kilovolts or thousandths volt
  • MΩ means mega-ohms or one million ohms
  • mA stands for milli-amps or a thousand of an ampere

You must understand the prefixes to read the measurement correctly on a multimeter.

The symbols

Other than the three measurement units, some other symbols on a multimeter represent different aspects of measuring and calculating electricity.

What do the symbols on a multimeter

Hold button

Once you finish with your measurement, and you want to keep the results from being deleted, this Hold button will save the results.

It comes in handy whenever you are busy with the process and not fast enough to look at the results.

AC Voltage

AC Voltage is the setting where you can measure the voltages.

The typical measurement varies from 100 to 240 volts AC.

You can find this symbol by looking for the capital “V” with a wavy line on it.

DC Voltage

A button represents DC Voltage with a capital V with three hyphens on it.

Dc Voltage settings allow you to test the small electronic devices such as batteries and lights to see if they are working.

Shift: Hertz

Shift: Hertz can be found on top of the AC Voltage, with a ¨Hz” unit, used for measuring the frequency of a device or circuit.


If you want to find short or open circuits, the button called continuity can help you with it.

You can find this setting by looking for a symbol that assembles the symbol of sound.

Current Jack

The jack with an A above called a current jack should only be used to connect with either clamp attachment or a red lead to measure them.

Common Jack

The common jack is black-colored, situated between two other jacks with “COM” above it.

This jack is compatible with all estimations and measurements.

However, it should always be tested with a dark test leads on the first hand.

Shift Capacitance

Shift capacitance is the setting that allows you to measure capacitance.

You can do so by searching for the symbol of two T facing each other.

Range Button

The range button is regularly found on top of any multimeter with a symbol ¨Lo/Hi¨.

The range button is utilized to cycle between various scopes of your meter.

Brightness Indicator

Using a multimeter outside will require you to use the brightness indicator to increase the bright level, making your measurements and researching convenient.

Alternating Current (AC)

A symbol that has a capital ¨A¨ with a squiggly line above it represents the Alternating current catch.

AC Millivolts 

You can find AC Millivolts setting thanks to the symbol ¨mV¨ with a squiggly line above it.

It is utilized to test circuits using the AC Voltage setting that are unusually low.

Shift DC Millivolts 

Directly close to the AC Millivolts button, Shift DC Millivolts is a symbol with three hyphens with a straight line over them.

Despite the fact that it works comparatively to AC Millivolts, it utilizes DC Voltage.


Ohms look to some extent like an Omega letter.

Fundamentally, it empowers you to read the measurement of resistance correctly.

Moreover, this button can likewise be expertly used to test circuits’ state, helping you recognize a blown wire.

For that reason, you can utilize the ohms setting to check wires when they are out of the circuit.

Diode Test 

The diode test setting causes you to test and recognize the condition of the diodes.

Look for a symbol that looks like a plus mark pointing to the right directions.

Red Track

Utilized for all tests other than current, including voltage, resistance, recurrence, temperature, impedance, and capacitance, etc.

What can multimeters measure?

The multimeters can be used to measure:

  • Voltage
  • Current
  • Resistance

All multimeters can guarantee to measure current, voltage, and resistance.

Other than that, some multimeters can perform different sorts of estimations too.

For instance, a few meters can quantify capacitors’ capacitance, and a few meters can test diodes or semiconductors.

These highlights are convenient.

However, they are not fundamental.


And that’s our answer to the question: “What do the symbols on a multimeter mean? By understanding every single feature on a multimeter, you can become accustomed to using the device correctly and knowledgeably.

In our opinion, everyone should know how to use a multimeter for future electrical issues solving, and the first step in that procedure is knowing what the symbols on it mean.

Thank you for reading our article, and we will see you again with more electric-related series!

further reading:

How to Check a Transistor by Multimeter (DMM+AVO)