When working with statistical data in Google Sheets, you may sometimes need to use and show mathematical formulae. Or this could be for your next math class (if you’re a teacher)
And this often requires the use of subscripts or superscripts in Google Sheets.
In this tutorial, I will show you some easy ways to add subscript and superscript in Google Sheets.
Table of Contents
What are Subscripts and Superscripts?
Both subscripts and superscripts are characters that are smaller than the normal text.
Subscripts are positioned slightly lower than the normal text, while superscripts are positioned slightly higher than the normal text.
- The 2 in O2 is a Subscript
- The 2 x2 is a Superscript
When and Why We Need Superscript and Subscript in Google Sheets
You might need subscripts while writing chemical formulae or notation. You may also need to use subscripts in mathematics, when you are trying to denote different versions of the same variable or to refer to a member of a sequence, for example – a0, a1 , a2…
Superscripts, on the other hand, are often used to raise a number or variable to a certain power (eg: x2). It is also used to represent temperatures in degrees. For example, 5°C.
Using subscripts and superscripts is fairly easy on Google Docs, but this feature has not yet been implemented on Google Sheets. And it’s understandable since Google Sheets was built to work with numbers and is not a word processor.
But a lot of people do need to display data that comes in the form of fractions or formulae in spreadsheets too (this is also one of the common queries I get from people).
Fortunately, there are ways to add subscripts and superscript in Google Sheets.
3 Ways to Get Subscript and Superscript in Google Sheets
Here are three ways you can use superscripts and subscripts in Google Sheets.
Using the CHAR() function
The CHAR() function is one of the in-built functions of Google sheets. It gives the character value corresponding to a given decimal value.
There are numerical values (called ASCII codes) corresponding to each character.
For example, the decimal value for the character A is 67.
So if you type the following CHAR function into a cell and press the Enter/Return key, you will get the letter ‘A’ as a result of the function.
In the same way, there are numerical values corresponding to subscript and superscript numbers 0 to 9, as well as mathematical symbols like (), +, – and =.
Numerical values for subscript and superscript alphabets are also available, but not for all of them.
For your convenience, I have created a Google Sheet containing lists of ASCII codes along with the subscript/superscript character they represent. All you need to do is make a copy of this, save it on your own Google Drive and use the codes whenever required.
Click here to access the sheet that has the subscript and superscripts (you will have to make a copy to use it)
Here’s how you can use the codes in the Sheet.
- Make a copy of my cheat sheet and save it in your own Google Drive. Keep this for future use.
- You will notice that it contains two separate sheets. One named ‘Subscript Characters’ and another called ‘Superscript Characters’.
- Each sheet has tables for numbers, symbols, and alphabets. The first column has the character you need, the second one has the corresponding ASCII code and the third one has the CHAR() function to display the corresponding subscript/ superscript.
- Whenever you need to use a subscript or superscript, simply open this saved file, select the corresponding sheet and find the character that you need from the list. Say you want to type the notation x2. You can then look for the notation corresponding to the number 2.
- Select the cell in the corresponding function column and press Ctrl+C on your keyboard. If you look at the contents of this cell, you will find that it is actually the result of a char() function.
- Go to the file where you need to put the superscript/subscript. Right-click on the required cell, and from the popup menu, click on Paste Special and then click on Paste values Only.
This will paste your required superscript/ subscript symbol in place. You can then choose to adjust the size as required.
Using Unicode Symbols
The second and easier way to incorporate subscripts/ superscripts in Google Sheets is by using Unicode Symbols.
Unicode symbols are a lot like emojis, but you can use them as part of your text. All you need to do is copy and paste the symbol into your cell wherever needed.
There’s a complete set of superscript and subscript Unicode symbols available, that can be easily Googled, copied and pasted.
Alternatively, you can visit Compart.com and look up your subscript of choice by searching the word ‘subscript’ or ‘superscript’, followed by the number you are looking for in words. For example, if you are looking for the superscript form of the number 7, you can type ‘Superscript seven’ (or just type superscript and then select 7 from the list).
This will give you the Unicode symbol for the number 7 in superscript form as shown below. You can simply copy this symbol and paste to your Google Sheet.
Unicode symbols are available for superscripts and subscripts of all numbers from 0 to 9, a few Greek symbols as well as mathematical symbols like +, – , = and ().
Also available are superscript symbols for all lowercase alphabets (except the letter q), and subscript symbols for some lowercase alphabets. There are some superscript symbols for uppercase alphabets too but there are no subscript symbols for the same.
To make things easier for you, here are all the available superscript and subscript Unicode symbols in one place.
Instead of going through the pain of searching, you can simply copy all the below symbols onto a google sheet somewhere (or a Google Doc) and then use them as and when needed.
Mathematical Symbol Superscripts:
⁰ ¹ ² ³ ⁴ ⁵ ⁶ ⁷ ⁸ ⁹ ⁺ ⁻ ⁼ ⁽ ⁾
Mathematical Symbol Subscripts:
₀ ₁ ₂ ₃ ₄ ₅ ₆ ₇ ₈ ₉ ₊ ₋ ₌ ₍ ₎
Greek Letter Superscripts:
ᵅ ᵝ ᵞ ᵟ ᵋ ᶿ ᶥ ᶲ ᵠ ᵡ
Greek Letter Subscripts:
ᵦ ᵧ ᵨ ᵩ ᵪ
Lowercase Alphabet Superscripts:
ᵃ ᵇ ᶜ ᵈ ᵉ ᶠ ᵍ ʰ ⁱ ʲ ᵏ ˡ ᵐ ⁿ ᵒ ᵖ ʳ ˢ ᵗ ᵘ ᵛ ʷ ˣ ʸ ᶻ
Lowercase Alphabet Subscripts:
ₐ ₑ ᵢ ⱼ ₒ ᵣ ᵤ ᵥ ₓ
Uppercase Alphabet Superscripts:
ᴬ ᴮ ᴰ ᴱ ᴳ ᴴ ᴵ ᴶ ᴷ ᴸ ᴹ ᴺ ᴼ ᴾ ᴿ ᵀ ᵁ ⱽ ᵂ
Note that the positions of these symbols in relation to your text may vary depending on the font used.
Using 3rd Party Sites/Add-ons
There are a number of third-party add-ons that allow you to generate subscript or superscripts forms of numbers, letters, and some symbols.
- Simply type in the value for which you need a superscript/ subscript on the left-hand side and you will get the corresponding superscript/subscript on the right-hand side.
- After that, you can simply copy this and paste it into your Google Sheet.
It might not be long before Google implements tools to directly use superscripts and subscripts in Google sheets too. But until then, you can try to make do with the above techniques.
If you have used MS Excel, you might know that there is an inbuilt format that allows you to quickly convert any text to subscript or subscript. I hope this is also implemented soon in Google Sheets.
I hope you found this Google sheets tutorial useful.
I would love to know if there are other techniques to add superscript and subscript in Google Sheets that are easier than the above.
You may also like the following Google Sheets tutorials: