Using Superscript or Subscript in MS Word

It’s common to use superscript or subscript for mathematical equations and chemical formulas, such as:




You can apply superscript or subscript formatting in a variety of ways:

  • Keyboard shortcut,
  • Using the Ribbon,
  • the Font dialog box, or
  • inserting a symbol.

Let’s start with the shortcut method.

Keyboard Shortcut:

First, select the character you want to apply superscript or subscript.

To apply superscript, press Ctrl Shift +

To apply subscript, press Ctrl =

To remove or turn off the superscript or subscript, it’s the same shortcut.

Let’s review the other methods to apply the superscript or subscript.

Using the Ribbon

On the Ribbon’s Home tab, in the Font grouping, there are commands for superscript and subscript.

First, select the character you want to apply superscript or subscript.

Then click either Superscript or Subscript.

Font dialog box

You can also use the font dialog box to quickly format your text as subscript.

Again, select the character you want to apply superscript or subscript.

Press Ctrl+D to open up the Font dialog box.

Alternatively, click the Font launcher on the Home tab.

The Font dialog box will appear with the font tab active. In the Effects group, click to select the Subscript or superscript.

Click OK.

Inserting subscript or superscript symbols

This method doesn’t involve formatting text as subscript as in the previous methods. You are actually inserting a symbol into your document. These symbols remain subscript no matter how you format them.

Place the insertion pointer at the location you want to insert the symbol.

Click on the Insert tab.

Navigate to the Symbol’s group and select the Symbol drop-down. From the drop-down menu, click on More Symbols.

On this Symbol’s dialog box, select the ‘Superscripts and Subscripts‘ from the Subset: drop-down list.

Note: Make sure font is (normal text). In the subset, you can type “s” on the keyboard to toggle through all selections that start with “s.”

Select the subscript symbol you want to insert and click on the Insert button.

You can also double-click on the symbol you want to insert.

Close the dialog box.

There you go, 4 different ways to apply the subscript or superscript.

Depending on what you are doing, each method is easy to use. It’s always good to know more than one way to do something.

Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)

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