How To Use Superscript and Subscript in Word

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published January 3, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Using Microsoft Word to type special characters and format text in specific styles is one benefit of the program. Many professionals often find that they need to type subscripts and superscripts in their documents at work. Knowing what those are and how to type them can increase your Word proficiency, the pace at which you work and help you develop your computer literacy skills. In this article, we discuss what superscripts and subscripts are, three operating systems you can use to type them and tips for using them in your documents.

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What is a superscript?

A superscript is a text character that is set slightly above and is slightly smaller than the surrounding text. Many professionals use superscripts when they type documents on computers. For careers in math and sciences, superscripts are often used to represent variables and exponents such as x2. For careers in research and writing, superscripts might represent footnote citations. For example, if you quote a statistic within a body of text, a "1" might follow it, showing that it's the first note at the bottom of the page. Superscripts are a versatile tool for a wide variety of professionals.

Read more: 6 Superscript Uses and How It Differs From Subscript

What is a subscript?

A subscript is a text character that is set slightly below and is slightly smaller than the surrounding text. Many professionals use subscripts when they type documents on computers. The most common use of subscripts is to represent variables in mathematical expressions such as "fx" and to show the base of the number, such as "12dec" when there are different number bases being used. Another use of subscripts is in chemistry to represent the number of atoms in compounds such as "H20" to represent water and "H2SO4" for sulfuric acid. While these are the most common, there are many more.

How to use superscript and subscript

There are three operating systems you can use to type superscripts and subscripts in Word, detailed below:

1. Windows

In Windows OS, there are two ways you can type superscripts and subscripts. The first is to find the subscript and superscript buttons. The second is to use keyboard commands to activate Word's base program for typing subscripts and superscripts. Below are steps you can use to help you type them using the first method:

  1. Select the text that you want to change to a subscript or superscript.

  2. Select the "Home" tab from the banner at the top of the Word program.

  3. Find the "Font" group near the center of the banner at the top of the Word program.

  4. Click the "X2" button to change the text you selected into a superscript.

  5. Click the "X2" button to change the text you selected into a subscript.

  6. Save your document using the "Save" button on the top left of the Word program or by pressing "Ctrl" and "S" at the same time.

Use the steps below to perform the second method of typing subscripts and superscripts in Windows OS:

  1. Select the text that you want to change to a subscript or superscript.

  2. Press "Ctrl," "Shift" and the "+" symbol at the same time to change the text you selected into a superscript.

  3. Press "Ctrl," "Shift" and the "-" symbol at the same time to change the text you selected into a subscript.

  4. Save your Word document using the "Save" button on the top left of the Word program or by pressing "Ctrl" and "S" at the same time.

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2. Mac

In Mac OS, there are two ways you can type subscripts and superscripts. The first is to use the subscript and superscript buttons. The second method is by using keyboard commands to activate Word's base program for typing subscripts and superscripts. Below are steps you can follow to help thou use the first method:

  1. Select the text that you want to change to a subscript or superscript.

  2. Click the "Home" tab from the banner at the top of the Word program.

  3. Find the "Font" group near the center of the banner at the top of the Word program.

  4. Click the "X2" button to change the text you selected into a superscript.

  5. Click the "X2" button to change the text you selected into a subscript.

  6. Save your Word document using the "Save" button on the top right of the Word program or by pressing "Command" and "S" at the same time.

Use the steps below to perform the second method of typing subscripts and superscripts on Mac OS:

  1. Select the text that you want to change into a subscript or superscript.

  2. Press "Command," "Shift" and the "+" symbol at the same time to change the text you selected into a superscript.

  3. Press "Command," "Shift" and the "-" symbol at the same time to change the text you selected into a subscript.

  4. Save your Word document by pressing "Save" on the top right of the Word program or by pressing "Command" and "S" at the same time.

Related: How To Change Screen Font Size on Windows and Mac

3. Online

On the online version of Microsoft Word, there is only one way to type subscripts and superscripts. Below are steps you can use to type them using the web-based version of the Word program:

  1. Select the text you want to change into a subscript or superscript.

  2. Click the "Home" tab on the banner at the top of the Word program.

  3. Select the "More font options" from the buttons in the "Font" group.

  4. Choose "Superscript" if you want to change your text to that.

  5. Choose "Subscript" if you want to change your text to that.

Please note that none of the products or companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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