Subscripts and superscripts are regularly required when you prepare documents. Word processing tools like Microsoft Word make this easy with inbuilt option available both in Windows and Mac versions. However, nowadays many of us rely on the online word processing tools like Google Docs Editor. If you are wondering how to insert subscript and superscript in Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, here are the options.
Subscript and Superscript in Google Docs Editor
Subscript is to insert a letter or number below the line height of the regular text while superscript is aligned just above the line height. For example, 25℃ and A2 are superscript while H2O is a subscript. These are very useful when writing mathematical equations, chemical formulas and citations in your documents.
Note that Google Docs Editor is a common interface for Doc, Slides and Sheets. However, Slides does not have text formatting options for superscript/subscript as it is intended for spreadsheet processing. Therefore, you have additional methods for Google Sheets for inserting subscript and superscript symbols.
1. Keyboard Shortcuts for Subscript and Superscript
The first and easy option is to use the keyboard shortcuts in Google Docs Editor. First, select the text that you want to make as subscript or superscript, for example – select 2 in H2O for subscript and y in Xy for superscript.
- Subscript – press “Control + Dot” keys in Windows and “Command + Dot” keys in Mac.
- Superscript – press “Control + Comma” keys in Windows and “Command + Dot” keys in Mac.
Note that you can press the same keyboard shortcuts to toggle the selected text back to normal mode.
2. Using Format Menu
If you are not convenient is using keyboard shortcuts, alternatively you can use the menu items for the same purpose. Go to “Format” menu and select “Text” option. Now, select “Subscript” or “Superscript” from the list as you need.
Note: For inserting simple mathematical equations, you can go to “Insert” menu and select “Equations” option. This will show an additional options in the menu and a text box where you can insert the equations.
3. Inserting from Special Characters Utility
In our previous article, we have explained how to insert symbols and special characters in Google Docs Editor primarily using “Insert Special Characters” utility. You can use the same tool for inserting subscript and superscript also.
- Go to “Insert” menu and select “Special characters” option.
- This will open Insert Special Characters utility. Type “superscript” or “subscript” in the search box to filter relevant symbols.
- Alternatively, select “Symbols” category and then “Superscript” or “Subscript” sub-category.
- When you find the superscript or subscript symbols, click on it to insert in your document.
4. Using Alt Code Shortcuts
If you have noticed in “Insert special characters” utility, each superscript and subscript symbol has a codepoint. This is a hexadecimal codepoint assigned by Unicode consortium for each character that you can type. In fact, you can use this codepoint in “Insert special characters” search box to find the symbols. Instead, you can also directly use the decimal or hexadecimal codepoints along with alt key. For example, U+2075 is the hexadecimal codepoint for superscript 5 symbol and the decimal equivalent for 2075 is 8309. You can use these values like below:
- In Windows – hold the alt key and type the decimal codepoint value using number pad. Alt + 8309 will make superscript symbol5.
- In Mac – hold the option key and type the hexadecimal codepoint value after changing the language input to Unicode Hex Input. This means, option + 2075 will insert subscript 5 in Google Docs.
Get complete list of alt code shortcuts for subscript and superscript to use in Google Docs Editor.
5. Using Character Map and Character Viewer
If you do not like to use any of the above mentioned options then you can use the inbuilt tools that come with Windows and Mac OS.
- Character Map in Windows – search and find Character Map tool and select the “Character set” as Unicode. After that select the “Group by” option as Unicode Subrange. This will open a small pop-up and select “Super/Subscript” option in that to filter the symbols. Click on the symbol and then click “Select” button to show it in the “Characters to copy” text box. Now, you can click “Copy” button to copy the symbol to clipboard and paste on your documents using “Control + V” shortcut.
- Character Viewer – go to “Edit > Emoji & Symbols” menu to open Character Viewer from Google Docs Editor interface. Type “superscript” or “subscript” in the search box to filter relevant symbols and insert in your Google Docs document.
6. Using CHAR Function in Google Sheets
As mentioned, Google Sheets will not have superscript/subscript options as part of text formatting menu. Unfortunately, alt code shortcuts also will not work properly in Sheets. In this case, you can use CHAR function to insert subscript and superscript in Google Sheets documents. The CHAR function will convert any decimal number to its associated characters. For example, type =CHAR(8322) in any cell and press tab or enter key to insert subscript 2 symbol. Similarly, you can use =CHAR(178) to insert superscript 2 symbol. When you type the number Slides will show the corresponding superscript/subscript associated with the number as shown below.
After that, you may need to concatenate superscript/subscript with other columns to use like A2 or B2.