Categories
Google Docs

How to Use Superscript or Subscript in Google Docs

If you write academic essays or create complex documents for work, you should know that Google Docs supports superscript and subscript.

Superscript and subscript are specially formatted text, numbers, or symbols. In both cases, characters are approximately half the size of the regular text in your document. Superscript is displayed higher than the other text on a given line, while subscript is lower.

Superscript is used in mathematical equations, scientific papers, and complex documents as footnotes or endnotes.

The following example shows an equation that uses superscript to display an exponent.

4 + 32 = 13

Subscript isn’t as common, but you’ll see it used in chemistry. The composition of water is often shown as H20, with the 2 displayed lower than the other characters.

Here are 3 ways to use superscript or subscript in Google Docs. If you’re a Microsoft Word user, check out this article on how to use superscript or subscript in Word.

Method #1: Apply Superscript or Subscript Using the Format Menu

The steps to apply superscript and subscript are very similar. Both commands are accessible through the Format menu in Google Docs.

Here is what you do.

  1. Drag to select the text you want to format.
  2. Click the Format menu, point to Text, then select Superscript or Subscript.
Superscript and Subscript in the Format menu

Removing superscript involves the same basic steps.

  1. Drag to select the text formatted with superscript or subscript.
  2. Click the Format menu, point to Text, then select Superscript or Subscript.

Method #2: Apply Superscript or Subscript Using Keyboard Shortcuts

If you use superscript or subscript often, you’ll want to memorize these keyboard shortcuts: Ctrl + . (period) for superscript, Ctrl + , (comma) for subscript.

To apply superscript, do the following:

  1. Drag to select the text you want to format.
  2. Press Ctrl + .

Below is a sentence with a footnote, indicating that additional information is available at the bottom of the page.

Sentence with footnote indicated with superscript number.

Removing superscript involves the same basic steps.

  1. Drag to select the text formatted with superscript.
  2. Press Ctrl + . to remove the superscript formatting attribute.

Method #3: Insert Special Characters That Use Superscript or Subscript

Google Docs has an assortment of special characters that can easily be inserted into your documents, like the trademark symbol or copyright.

To insert a symbol formatted as superscript:

  1. Click in your document where the symbol should be inserted.
  2. Click the Insert menu and select Special characters.
  3. Select Superscript from the drop-down menu on the right.
  4. Select the symbol you want to use and click x to close the Insert special characters dialog box.

The symbol you select is inserted into your document immediately.

The Insert special characters dialog box

Conclusion

Google Docs offers several ways to format (or insert) characters that use superscript and subscript. Choose the method that works best for you. With practice, it will become second nature!

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.