Apply Superscript or Subscript in Microsoft Word (Text, Numbers or Symbols)

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated July 16, 2020

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

You can apply superscript or subscript formatting in Microsoft Word using buttons on the Ribbon, keyboard shortcuts or the Font dialog box. If you apply superscript, the selected letter, number or symbol will be raised slightly above the line of text and sized to a smaller size. If you apply subscript, the selection will be lowered slightly below the line of text and sized to a smaller size.

Certain features in Word, such as Footnotes, automatically create superscripted characters.

Recommended article: 3 Strikethrough Shortcuts in Microsoft Word

It’s common to use superscript or subscript for:

  • Symbols such as trademark or copyright symbols
  • Mathematical equations
  • Chemical formulas
  • Footnote characters or numbers

Applying superscript or subscript using buttons in the Ribbon

In Word (not PowerPoint), there are buttons in the Ribbon for superscript and subscript.

To apply superscript or subscript using buttons in the Ribbon:

  1. In the Word document, select the text character, number or symbol to which you want to apply superscript or subscript.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Superscript or Subscript in the Font group (X buttons).

Below are the buttons in the Font group in Word (note the X buttons):

Superscript and subscript buttons in the Font group on the Home tab in Word.

Removing superscript or subscript using buttons in the Ribbon

To remove superscript or subscript using buttons in the Ribbon:

  1. Select the text, number or symbol with superscript or subscript you want to remove.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click Superscript or Subscript in the Font group.

Applying superscript or subscript using a keyboard shortcut

To apply superscript or subscript using a keyboard shortcut:

  1. In the Word document, select the text character, number or symbol to which you want to apply superscript or subscript.
  2. To apply superscript, press Ctrl + Shift + equal sign (=). To apply subscript, press Ctrl + equal sign (=).

Note: We’re using the equal sign at the top of the keyboard.

Removing or turning off superscript or subscript using a keyboard shortcut

To remove or turn off superscript or subscript using a keyboard shortcut:

  1. Select the text, number or symbol with superscript or subscript you want to remove.
  2. To remove superscript, press Ctrl + Shift + equal sign (=). To remove subscript, press Ctrl + equal sign (=).

Applying superscript or subscript using the Font dialog box

Since superscript and subscript are character formats that can be applied to text or a symbol, the most common way to apply them is to use the Font dialog box. You can select or deselect check boxes to apply or remove superscript or subscript.

To apply superscript or subscript:

  1. In the Word document, select the text character, number or symbol to which you want to apply superscript or subscript.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the dialog box launcher on the bottom right of the Font group (corner button). Alternatively, press Ctrl + D. A dialog box appears.
  4. Select the Superscript or Subscript check box or press Alt + the underlined character.
  5. Click OK or press Enter.

Below is the Font dialog box in Microsoft Word:

Superscript and subscript commands in the Font dialog box in Word.

In the sample below, superscript has been applied to the registered trademark symbol:

XYZ Manufacturing Ltd. ®

Removing or turning off superscript or subscript using the Font dialog box

To remove or turn off superscript or subscript:

  1. Select the text, number or symbol with superscript or subscript you want to remove.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  3. Click the dialog box launcher on the bottom right of the Font group (corner button). Alternatively, press Ctrl + D. A dialog box appears.
  4. Select the Superscript or Subscript check box to deselect it.
  5. Click OK or press Enter.

The benfit of using the keyboard shortcut method is the keyboard shortcuts are the same in other programs.

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Summary
How to Superscript or Subscript in Word (with Shortcuts)
Article Name
How to Superscript or Subscript in Word (with Shortcuts)
Description
You can apply superscript or subscript formatting in Microsoft Word using buttons on the Ribbon, keyboard shortcuts or the Font dialog box. If you apply superscript, the selected letter, number or symbol will be raised slightly above the line of text and sized to a smaller size. If you apply subscript, the selection will be lowered slightly below the line of text and sized to a smaller size. 
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Avantix Learning

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