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How to Use PowerPoint’s Superscript and Subscript Functions

  • Press Control or Command, Shift, and Equals in PowerPoint to utilize superscript and subscript.
  • Adding superscript and subscript buttons to the PowerPoint toolbar is another option.
  • In the "Formatting" option of the PowerPoint mobile app, you'll find superscript and subscript.

A wide number of purposes and methods for utilizing superscript and subscript text exist. That's why all Microsoft 365 programs including PowerPoint let you type using both, no matter what version you're using.

What is the meaning of superscript?

We are not being patronizing; rather, for the sake of clarity, a superscript character is one that is somewhat above the standard line of text and is typically smaller than the rest of the text.

What is the meaning of subscript?

I'm sure you've figured this out already: A subscript is a character that is significantly smaller than the rest of the text and is usually positioned slightly below the main line of text.

How to Use PowerPoint’s Superscript and Subscript Functions

Depending on what version of PowerPoint you have — the desktop version for PC and Mac or the mobile version for iPhone, iPad, and Android — there are either two ways to achieve this, or simply one.

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How to Use PowerPoint’s Superscript and Subscript Functions on PC

You can type superscript or subscript in two different methods in the desktop app. First, you can use keyboard shortcuts.

  • To type in superscript, use Ctrl + Shift + Equals sign = or Command + Shift + Equals sign = (Mac).
  • To type in subscript, just press Ctrl + Equals sign = or Command + Equals sign = (Mac).
  • To switch between superscript and subscript modes, simply use this keyboard shortcut. To turn it off, press the shortcut keys again.

Secondly, you can add superscript and subscript buttons to the toolbar at the top of your screen. Click these buttons to turn superscript and subscript on and off, exactly like the buttons for Bold, Italics, and other formatting settings.

How to Add PowerPoint’s Superscript and Subscript button in toolbar

  • Right-click the toolbar and select Customize the Ribbon.
  • In the menu that displays, click the Choose commands from drop-down and select All Commands.
Make sure that “All Commands” is chosen.
  • Click on the Home option on the right side of the screen, and then click on New Tab.
  • Click each of them and select Add > >.
  • Add each one by clicking on it.
  • Your changes will be saved after you click OK.

There are now specific buttons for superscript and subscript on the PowerPoint toolbar.

How to Use PowerPoint’s Superscript and Subscript Functions on phone

In the mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android, you'll need to use the "Formatting" menu. The steps to find it change slightly depending on your device.

In the iPhone app

  • Open your presentation and tap a piece of text so you can start typing,
  • Tap the three dots in the top-right corner of your keyboard.
  • You can find more formatting options by swiping down.
  • Subscript or superscript are the two alternatives available.

To return to your keyboard and begin typing, click the arrow in the upper-right corner of this menu.

In the iPad app

  • Open your presentation and tap whatever text or text box you wish to type in.
  • Tap the icon in the toolbar at the top of the screen that looks like two letter A's, one lowercase and one uppercase.
  • Select the option you want to use: Subscript or Superscript.

Continue typing when you've made your selection.

In the Android app

  • Open your presentation and double-tap any piece of text or text box to start editing.
  • Start typing by tapping the arrow in the upper right corner again after selecting Superscript or Subscript.
  • Simply go back into the Formatting menu and select your original option once more to revert to plain text mode again.

Superscript or subscript: Which one should you use?

In some circumstances, the use of superscript or subscript is obligatory, for instance when writing chemical formulas such as H2O, but in many cases it is also just useful for the reading of a text, for instance when writing dates such as the 20th of March 2020. You can use superscript in PowerPoint presentations in the following ways:

  • Trademarks: Use the trademark symbol™ in superscript to signify a trademark
  • Footnotes: Indicate and keep track of footnotes by adding a superscript number1 to the end of your text
  • Dates: Although not necessary, it is typical in British English to superscript the endings of dates, e.g., 1st of April, 2nd of May etc.
  • The following people or organizations have contributed to this work: Many publications suggest that you identify between author affiliations with superscript numbers or symbols when writing scientific articles.