Six ways to Subscript or Superscript in Word and Office

There are SIX ways to add text that appears smaller and slightly below (subscript) or above (superscript) in Word, PowerPoint and other Office apps. This kind of text is commonly used in mathematics (e.g. X2) and other technical fields (e.g. H2O), but can also be used for something as simple as a date or other ordinal number (e.g. 25th).

  1. Automatic Superscript
  2. Ribbon Buttons 
    1.  Subscript
    2.  Superscript
  3. Font Dialog Box 
  4. Keyboard Shortcuts 
  5. Equation Editor
  6. All 42 Superscript and Subscript characters

Automatic Superscript

You’ve probably already seen this in Word. Type a date or ordinal value like 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 55th etc and Word will change the following letters (‘st’ ‘nd’, ‘rd’ or ‘th’) to superscript automatically.

This little bit of Word magic happens with an AutoFormat setting at File | Options | Proofing | AutoCorrect options | AutoFormat.

If you don’t want the superscript in individual cases, press Ctrl + Z (Undo).  The AutoFormatting is a separate ‘do’ in Word that is reversable, as you can see from the Undo list. 

If it’s a long time later and Undo isn’t available, select the number and text then press Ctrl + Space . That will remove the extra formatting.  Or the harder way is to select just the th’, nd’, st’ or ‘rd’ and uncheck the superscript button on the ribbon. 

Ribbon Buttons

In Word, PowerPoint and Outlook there are subscript and superscript buttons on the ribbon under Home | Font. Simply highlight the text that you want to turn into subscript or superscript, and click the appropriate button.  




Font Dialog Box

Subscript and superscript can also be added via the Font dialog box. You may prefer to use this method if you want to make other formatting changes to the text as well, such as changing the font style, size or color.  

The Font dialog box is opened by: 

  • Clicking on the arrow at the bottom right corner of the Font group.  
  • Typing the keyboard shortcut Control + D.  

Then simply tick the subscript or superscript box, make any other changes you want to the font, and click OK.  

Keyboard Shortcuts

You may prefer to use keyboard shortcuts if you want to make the change on the fly while typing. Before typing the sub/superscript text, type the appropriate keyboard shortcut, type the text that you want changed, and then type the shortcut again when you want to return to normal text.  

The keyboard shortcut for subscript (e.g. H2O) is Ctrl + = 

The keyboard shortcut for superscript (e.g. X2) is Ctrl + Shift + +  (above the equals sign) 

Equation Editor

If youre making equations with super or sub scripts galore, use Word’s Equation Editor from Insert | Symbols | Equation … 

All 42 Superscript and Subscript characters

Some fonts support the Unicode range of superscript and subscript characters. There are 42 characters in this list.

Use these characters if the subscript/superscript options aren’t available or aren’t exactly what you need.

  • Use the Search box at right to find symbols by name.
  • Click column headings to sort.
  • Select the symbol from the left column, Copy then paste into a document, sheet, slide or email.
  • Unicode value column works in Word for Windows, type the value then press Alt + X makes the symbol appear. In other dialog boxes, such as Insert Symbol, use the Unicode value to jump straight to the emoji you want.
Superscript Zero2070
Superscript Latin Small Letter I2071
Superscript Four2074
Superscript Five2075
Superscript Six2076
Superscript Seven2077
Superscript Eight2078
Superscript Nine2079
Superscript Plus Sign207A
Superscript Minus207B
Superscript Equals Sign207C
Superscript Left Parenthesis207D
Superscript Right Parenthesis207E
Superscript Latin Small Letter N207F
Subscript Zero2080
Subscript One2081
Subscript Two2082
Subscript Three2083
Subscript Four2084
Subscript Five2085
Subscript Six2086
Subscript Seven2087
Subscript Eight2088
Subscript Nine2089
Subscript Plus Sign208A
Subscript Minus208B
Subscript Equals Sign208C
Subscript Left Parenthesis208D
Subscript Right Parenthesis208E
Latin Subscript Small Letter A2090
Latin Subscript Small Letter E2091
Latin Subscript Small Letter O2092
Latin Subscript Small Letter X2093
Latin Subscript Small Letter Schwa2094
Latin Subscript Small Letter H2095
Latin Subscript Small Letter K2096
Latin Subscript Small Letter L2097
Latin Subscript Small Letter M2098
Latin Subscript Small Letter N2099
Latin Subscript Small Letter P209A
Latin Subscript Small Letter S209B
Latin Subscript Small Letter T209C

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