How to Superscript and Subscript in Google Docs

Write notations, citations, formulas, and mathematical text with ease

When you're writing, sometimes you need to call out notations, formulas, or other items. An easy and accepted way to do that is through the use of superscript or subscript. You can quickly add superscript in Google Docs (and subscript, too) using the Format or Insert menus.

Why Use Superscript or Subscript in a Document?

When numbers or letters are written at a level above the main text to the right of a word and in a much smaller size, they are referred to as superscript. When they are written below the main text to the right of a word in a much smaller size, they are referred to as subscript.

There are many reasons to include both superscript and subscript when you're writing in Google Docs. In writing, superscript and subscript can indicate footnotes and other citations. Trademarks and service marks, for example, are written in superscript, like this: TrademarkTM. Mathematical equations, scientific equations, and other types of writing also use superscript notations.

Subscript is used in similar ways. A mathematical equation, for instance, might be written like this: An=An-1+An-2. Chemistry compounds, like H2O, also use subscripting.

Looking for a keyboard shortcut? Highlight the text and press Ctrl plus a period to superscript (Ctrl + .). To add subscript quickly, highlight the text and press Ctrl plus a comma (Ctrl + ,).

The superscript and subscript shortcuts won't work if you have installed an extension that uses the same shortcut in its program. You'll need to remove the competing extension before you can use these.

The Easy Way to Do Superscript in Google Docs

To add superscript to your text, follow these steps:

  1. Highlight the text you want to superscript.

  2. Click Format.

  3. Click Text.

  4. Click Superscript.

    Google Docs superscript menu items

The Easy Way to Add Subscript in Google Docs

To add subscript to your text, follow these steps:

  1. Highlight the text you want to format.

  2. Click Format.

  3. Click Text.

  4. Click Subscript.

    Subscript menu

How to Subscript or Superscript Using Special Characters

When you need to do something a bit fancier with your superscript or subscript, you can use the Special Characters feature in Google Docs. While this option is a bit limited (it doesn't offer trademark options, for instance), it can still offer a variety of choices you can't get just by using the Format menu.

Follow these steps to use special characters for your subscript or superscript:

  1. On the menu, click Insert.

  2. Click Special Characters.

    Insert menu showing the Special Characters option
  3. When the Special Characters menu box appears, type 'Superscript' or 'Subscript' into the search box. That will bring up a menu of options you can select from.

    You can also draw what you're looking for. Just use your cursor to draw in the box that says Draw a symbol here. That will bring up search results that attempt to match your drawing as closely as possible.

    Insert subscript using the Special Characters menu.
  4. In your text, place your cursor where you want the superscript or subscript to appear. Do not highlight anything; this process inserts the text for you.

  5. Make your selection from the choices provided.

How to Include Superscript or Subscript in Google Forms

If you're building a form or survey in Google Docs, you can't add superscript or subscript from inside the form. Instead, you need to paste the question to the form from a document where you have already formatted the superscript or subscript.

How to Undo Superscript or Subscript

To remove either type of formatting from your text, simply follow the steps you used to add the superscript or subscript in the first place. That will undo the formatting and place your text back to normal.