**How to Use** **Superscript ****and ****Subscript ****in Excel**

**How to Use**

**Superscript**

**and**

**Subscript**

**in Excel**

*Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.*

Applying superscript and subscript format in Excel *isn’t straightforward* unlike in Microsoft Word.

It’s understandable. Microsoft Word is a **text processor** while Excel is a **spreadsheet software**, which mostly deals with *data* and *numbers*.

However, there are ways you can apply these formats in Excel.

In this article, you’ll learn how to easily apply both superscript and subscript in Excel.

Let’s get started! 😊

**Table of Content**

**What are superscript and subscript?**

By definition, superscript or subscript is a **character**, which can be a number, letter, or symbol, placed *above or below the type line*.

Superscripts appear above the normal line of type. They’re commonly used to symbolize *exponents*, *footnotes*, *ordinal indicators*, and *trademarks*.

Subscripts are placed below the baseline. They’re usually used in *chemistry *to illustrate the molecular structure of chemical compounds such as water (H20).

**Text vs Numbers**

Normally, you can apply Excel formatting to any data type.

However, applying either superscript or subscript in Excel is different.

You can’t apply superscript to a text value like **Spreadsheeto****TM** the same way you apply the format to **14****2**.

Below, we’ll show you the different ways of applying superscript and subscript on a text value and number value.

**Apply superscript or subscript to texts**

This method only works for text strings.

Because you’re only applying either format to a character(s) in a cell, you have to be careful as not to apply superscript or subscript to the entire cell.

That means you have to *select the text* within the cell you’d like to format.

To do so, you can either **double-click** a cell or **press **** ‘F2’** on your keyboard to enter

*cell edit mode*and

*select the text*with your mouse.

For this example, let’s turn **‘SpreadsheetoTM’ **into **‘Spreadsheeto****TM****’**.

**Open the **** ‘Format Cells’ dialogue box** by

*right-clicking*the highlighted text or character and

**select**

**from the dropdown list.**

*‘Format Cells…’*Alternately, you can also **press ***‘Ctrl’ ***+ **** ‘1’ **on your keyboard to bring out the dialogue box.

To apply either superscript or subscript, simply **check **the appropriate box under **‘Effects’ **and **press **** ‘OK’**.

In our example, let’s check ‘Superscript’.

After you click ‘OK’, you’ll immediately see the changes.

**Superscript and Subscript Shortcut Keys**

It’s possible to do the steps described above using shortcut keys.

To apply a superscript using shortcut keys, simply press the following key combinations:

*‘Ctrl’*+*‘1’*

*‘Alt’*+*‘E’*

- ‘Enter’

To apply a subscript using shortcut keys, simply press the following key combinations:

*‘Ctrl’*+*‘1’*

*‘Alt’*+*‘B’*

- ‘Enter’

Note that the combination of keys is *not the shortcut *for superscript/subscript per se. They’re merely shortcuts to the steps described earlier in this section.

**Add to ‘Quick Access Toolbar’**

If you don’t like going through the steps using the ‘Format Cells’ dialogue box, you can directly **pin** both superscript and subscript in the **‘Quick Access Toolbar’**.

By default, your ‘Quick Access Toolbar’ contains *‘Save’*, *‘Undo’*, and *‘Redo’*. They’re found on the upper left side of your Excel window.

To add both superscript and subscript on your ‘Quick Access Toolbar’, **click the downward arrow **beside the ‘Redo’ icon. Then, **select **** ‘More Commands’ **from the dropdown list.

On this window, find the superscript and subscript icons. **Click the **** ‘Add>>’ box **and

**hit**

**.**

*‘OK’*Now, you’ll be able to quickly use both formats from the ‘Quick Access Toolbar’.

Here’s a cool thing:

Commands in the ‘Quick Access Toolbar’ are assigned shortcut keys.

Unlike the keys we showed you earlier, these keys are straight to the point.

All shortcut keys in the ‘Quick Access Toolbar’ start with ** ‘Alt’**. To know the next key, simple

**press or hold**

**and numbers will show up above the icon.**

*‘Alt’*- Subscript:
*‘Alt’***+***‘4’* - Superscript:
*‘Alt’***+***‘5’*

To remove superscript and subscript from the ‘Quick Access Toolbar’, follow the same steps but this time,

use.‘<<Remove’

**Add to Excel Ribbon**

It’s also possible to add both superscript and subscript to your Excel Ribbon.

**Right-click **anywhere on the Ribbon and **click **** ‘Customize the Ribbon…’ **from the dropdown list.

Before you can add additional commands and formats on the Ribbon, you would have to

create a new groupfirst since you can’t add new commands to existing groups.

To make this easier, let’s use the default tab, ‘Home’.

To create a new group within the ‘Home’ tab, **click the **** ‘New Group’ box **on the lower left side of the window.

If you want to ‘Rename’ the group, **click **** ‘Rename’ **beside ‘New Group’.

To add both formats, **select **them and **click **** ‘Add>>’**. Then,

**click**

**.**

*‘OK’*You can now apply the formats straight from your Excel Ribbon.

To remove superscript and subscript from the Ribbon, *reverse the steps *you took i.e. **use **** ‘<<Remove’**.

**Apply superscript or subscript to numbers **

Applying superscript or subscript to a number value is a bit tricky.

If you like to apply either format on a number value inside a string with *at least 1 letter*, you can apply the steps defined in the earlier sections i.e. xy12.

But if you need to apply either format to a string with no letter on it, a *pure numerical string*, follow the steps below.

The easiest way to enter a value with a subscript or superscript is through **‘Insert Equation’**.

The result of this method is your value in a text box. What you entered here isn’t situated on a cell.

Let’s say you’d like to enter into Excel the value **“14****2****“ **(that’s 14 raised to the power of 2).

First, go to the **‘Insert’ tab**.

**Click the **** ‘Equation’ icon **from the ‘Symbols’ group.

Then, **click **** ‘Script’ **from the ‘Structures’ group and select either superscript or subscript.

Fill out the boxes with the appropriate numbers.

**Excel superscript character codes**

If you want to add superscript numbers in a cell, you can do so as long as they’re only 1, 2, or 3.

Two things to remember:

- If you’re planning to use this method, make sure you’re using
**Calibri**or**Arial**fonts. Other fonts may need a different key combination. - Although the result is still a number, technically, the result is a
*numeric string*. That means you can’t use the results for any calculations.

**Superscript in Excel formula**

You can also use the ‘CHAR’ function in Excel to write superscript numbers.

However, there are limitations similar to the one above:

- Only apply as long as the superscripts are 1, 2, and 3
- The result becomes a
*number string*which you can’t use for calculations

The formula for the superscript numbers are similar to the codes above:

- Formula1:
**‘=CHAR(185)’** - Formula2:
**‘=CHAR(178)’** - Formula3: ‘
**=CHAR(179)’**

This method is useful whenever you need to

separateorpreservethe base or original numbers.

To combine the superscript and the original number, you can use the ‘CONCATENATE’ function in Excel.

**Ultimate Solution: Copy & Paste**

It’s good to know the gritty details of how to apply superscript and subscript.

But sometimes, all we need is a quick, one-time use. If this is the case, *simply copy-pasting* will do the trick. 😊

Just copy the ones you need straight to Excel:

- Superscript: ⁺ ⁻ ⁼ ⁽ ⁾ ¹ ² ³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶ ⁷ ⁸ ⁹ ⁰
- Subscript: ₊ ₋ ₌ ₍ ₎ ₁ ₂ ₃ ₄ ₅ ₆ ₇ ₈ ₉ ₀

Fast and easy, right? 👍

**Wrapping things up…**

As of today, there’s no clear explanation from the Microsoft team why applying superscript and subscript to a number or text requires different steps.

Fortunately, doing them isn’t really that hard. Plus, if you’re having a difficult time and all you need to superscript or subscript is a number, just copy and paste the preformatted characters from the previous section of this article.