How to Format Superscript or Subscript Text in Google Docs

Have you ever looked at your math textbooks and wondered how they placed those small degrees o sign next to an angle? That is one of the questions that kept little Timmy awake at night. This is known as Superscript.

And the small th after dates are in the form of a subscript. Google Docs is an excellent online word processor tool on your browser and its interface is a little different from the other ones.

If you ever want to type up a document based on Chemistry, Geometry or Climate, you will need to use the superscript and subscripts a lot of time, to create an emphasis on chemical compounds, angles, and temperature. 

The Superscript hovers a few pixels over the usual letters and the Subscript lets the letters be placed a little lower and smaller than where you type, usually. And if your choice of an online word processor is Google Docs on a browser, you will notice that you will not find the superscript and subscript options where you expect them to be. 

We’ll help you figure this out with this article. 

superscript in google docs

Why should you use Superscript & Subscript in Google Docs?

Applying Superscript and Subscript in your documents can make your documents look better and give it a whole new format.  

If your article is about Chemistry, you can use subscripts to make the number of atoms look significant. For example, If you’re talking about CH4, it looks better when you subscript the number of atoms in that compound to make it look better, like this, CH4. This is also how chemical equations and formulas have to be expressed. 

Subscript example

If you are working on a geometry-based mathematical problem, you deal with a lot of angles and you will not find a key to type in degrees. And you can use an superscripted O as the degree, just like this:

The right angle is exactly 90o. This looks better than 90 degrees. This can also be used to write exponents.

example of superscript in google docs

The degree sign can also be used to denote temperature.

What is the difference between superscript and subscript in Google Docs?

A Superscript is a word, letter, or number that is set slightly above the usual line of typing. While a Subscript is a similar word, letter, or number that is placed a little below the usual type line. 

Both of these are very small in size and are usually written after normal sized words, letters, or numbers. 

How to Apply Superscript or Subscript in Google Docs?

As mentioned previously, the interface of Google Docs on a browser is different from that of your usual word processor. Therefore, you may have problems locating it and applying the feature to your text.

There are quite a number of methods to apply Superscript and Subscript on your computer. You can change your text to Superscript or Subscript, in the following methods:

  1. The Special Characters tool
  2. Text formatting with the Format menu
  3. The Shortcut keys for Superscript and Subscript

Applying Superscript or Subscript to the Text in Google Docs

Use the following procedures to enable Superscript or Subscript in your Google Docs document. These are the only ways to turn on Subscript and Superscript text in your Google Docs for the browser. 

Using the chart of Special text characters to enable Subscript or Superscript in Google Docs

Google Docs has a chart containing a lot of special characters. This chart can be used to apply Superscript or subscript to your text. And this is how you use the special characters to insert Superscript or Subscript. 

  1. Open your document. 
  2. On the Menu bar, you’ll find the Insert menu. Click on it.
Insert Menu in Google Docs
  1. From the Insert drop-down menu, select Special Characters. It has the Omega icon to its left.
special characters option
  1. The Insert Special Characters window opens. You can select between different types of characters and a symbol. Google Docs does not have as many symbols or characters in Google Docs as there are on text processors like MS Word. 
insert special characters in google docs
  1. Click on the Arrows menu, select Superscript or Subscript based on what you want to be writing on your document, from the drop down menu that appears when prompted.  
select Superscript or Subscript option based on what you want
  1. You’ll see a little table of all the Subscript or Superscript characters that appear, on the basis of your choice.
insert special characters
  1. Click on the character(s) you want and they will be inserted with your text. 
Click on the character(s) you want and they will be inserted with your text

Using Superscript or Subscript with a respective keyboard shortcut

There are keyboard shortcuts for changing your text into Subscript text or Superscript text. You can use them to use Superscript and Subscript text in Google Docs. This is what you have to do. 

  1. Select the text, by clicking and dragging the text you want to change into Superscript and/or Subscript. 
  2. Once you are done, you can just press the keyboard shortcut keys on your keyboard.
  3. If you want the selected text to be Superscripted, you press Ctrl + . keys together.
  4. If you want the selected text to be Subscripted, you hit the Ctrl + , keys, simultaneously. 

What are the keyboard shortcuts for Superscript and Subscript in Google Docs?

The keyboard shortcuts for Superscript and Subscript are:

  1. Superscript keyboard shortcut – Ctrl + . (Control key + Period key)
  2. Subscript keyboard shortcut – Ctrl + , (Control key + Comma key)

Note: You can also turn on Subscript or Superscript just by pressing the keyboard shortcut. When you type in words after that, they will be superscripted or subscripted. Just like these words!

Applying Superscript and/or Subscript using the Format menu

The Format menu on the menu bar can also be used to create Superscript or Subscript text from normal text. These are the steps to be taken to apply Subscript or Superscript text formatting through the Format menu.   

  1. Open your document.
  2. Click and drag the cursor over to select the text characters you want to convert into Subscript or Superscript.
  3. Click on the Format menu, on the Google Docs menu bar on your browser.
Click on the Format menu, on the Google Docs menu bar
  1. A dropdown formatting menu opens. From the formatting menu, you have to choose the Text option. 
From the formatting menu, you have to choose the Text option.
  1. In the Text option, select Subscript or Superscript like you wish.
In the Text option, select Subscript or Superscript like you wish
  1. The text will be significantly raised or dropped and shrunk, once the option is chosen. 

This is how text formatting is done to texts that you wish to be Superscripted or Subscripted. 


This article is a great example of how and why Superscripts and Subscripts are important to articles or any documents talking about Chemical formulas, mathematical problems, and climate-related topics.

Using the Superscript and Subscript, you can create a lot of emphasis on your articles and also because it makes a lot more sense to type the content, the same way you write it. Now, you know how to make your formulas and other scientific writing better. 

Do check out our article on how to Set Up and Use Google Docs Offline 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Why can’t I superscript in Google Docs?

Superscripting content in Google Docs pages isn’t always possible. Your browser may be out of date or an extension may be interfering with the browser’s functions. To use Superscript again, you’ll need to update your browser or remove the browser extensions.

Can you superscript in Google Docs?

Yes,  you can Superscript and Subscript text on your documents created with the help of Google Docs. There is a lot of alternative ways to do the same. 

How do you type a superscript?

Before you start typing the text in the document, press Ctrl + . (period) keys, together. This will enable Superscript on your Google Docs. 

What is the shortcut for subscripts in Google Docs?

The shortcut for subscripts in Google Docs is Ctrl + , (comma).

How do you make a superscript on Google keyboard?

Assemble your keyboard by pressing and holding down Control and the period keys. Afterward, you’ll have activated the Superscript option. When you begin typing, you will notice that the text is raised and shrunk in size.