Superscript in PowerPoint

As a teacher at the university, I often need to write a chemical or mathematical formula in PowerPoint, but access to the ‘Superscript‘ and ‘Subscript‘ functions is a bit tricky. This guide helps you through!


Shortcuts for superscript and subscript in PowerPoint

Superscript and subscript shortcuts for Powerpoint

The menu for ‘Superscript‘ and ‘Subscript‘ in PowerPoint takes a few clicks to access. Therefore, I often use keyboard shortcuts. Just select the text you want to make superscript or subscript and use these shortcuts:

Superscript shortcut: ‘Ctrl’ – ‘Shift’ – ‘+’

You should press both ‘Ctrl’, ‘Shift’ and ‘+’ (the plus sign) at the same time for this to work.

Subscript shortcut: ‘Ctrl’ – ‘=’

You should press both ‘Ctrl’ and ‘=’ (the equal sign) at the same time – and (although counterintuitive) you should not press shift.

If you find that the ‘Subscript‘ shortcut does not work, chances are that you are using a non-US keyboard. In this case, you should press the button which is where the equal sign (=) is located on a US keyboard (yes, I know, this is annoying!). In Denmark, the combination to use is:

Danish subscript shortcut: ‘Ctrl’ – ‘+’

Again, you should press both keys simultaneously for the shortcut to work.


How to manually set superscript and subscript in PowerPoint

In PowerPoint, you can manually format text as superscript or subscript if you do not want to use the keyboard shortcuts. Just follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the ‘Home‘ tab in PowerPoint
  2. Select the text or character you want to superscript or subscript
  3. Find the ‘Font‘ group – this is where you also adjust text size
  4. Click the ‘Font Dialog Box Launcher‘ – it’s the little arrow in the bottom right corner
  5. In the ‘Font‘ tab under ‘Effects’ click the ‘Superscript‘ or ‘Subscript‘ check box
  6. Click ‘OK
  7. All done 🙂

Superscript and subscript dialog box in Powerpoint


How to add a superscript or subscript symbol to your slide

You might need to add a superscript or subscript symbol to your slide, for instance a trademark symbol or a symbol for distinguishing between author affiliations in a scientific manuscript. This can be done with a few clicks in PowerPoint:

  1. Navigate to the ‘Insert‘ tab in PowerPoint
  2. Find the ‘Symbols‘ group
  3. Click on the slide where you want to insert the symbol
  4. Click ‘Symbol
  5. In the ‘Symbol‘ dialog box, select (normal text) in the ‘Font‘ drop-down list
  6. In the ‘Symbol‘ dialog box, in the ‘Subset‘ drop-down list, select ‘Superscripts and subscripts
  7. Select the symbol you want
  8. Click ‘Insert’
  9. Close the window and your superscript symbol will be on the slide 🙂

Superscript and subscript symbol dialog box in PowerPoint


Adjust the position of superscripts and subscripts

You might want to adjust the position of your superscripts and subscripts on your PowerPoint slides, for example if you are using a non-standard font or if you are setting up an infographic. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to the ‘Home’ tab in PowerPoint
  2. Select the superscript or subscript text you want to change the position of
  3. Find the ‘Font‘ group
  4. Click the ‘Font Dialog Box Launcher’ in the lower right corner
  5. In the ‘Font’ tab under ‘Effects‘ type in a number in the ‘Offset‘ box – a positive number will raise the selected text up and a negative number will lower it down
  6. Click ‘OK
  7. That’s it 🙂


When to use superscript or subscript

In some cases, the use of superscript or subscript is necessary, for instance when writing chemical formulas such as H2O, but in many cases it is also simply beneficial for the readability of a text, for instance when writing dates such as the 20th of March 2020. Here’s a few examples of when you can add superscript in PowerPoint presentations:

  1. Trademarks: Use the trademark symbol in superscript to indicate a trademark
  2. Footnotes: Indicate and keep track of footnotes by adding a superscript number1 to the end of your text
  3. Dates: Although not necessary, it is customary in British English to superscript the endings of dates, e.g., 1st of April, 2nd of May etc.
  4. Author affiliations: When writing scientific papers journals will often ask you to distinguish between author affiliations with superscript numbers or symbol, e.g., Anne Anderson1, †, Brian Basset 2, ‡


Adding the ‘Superscript’ and ‘Subscript’ buttons to PowerPoint’s toolbar

If you are used to Microsoft Word, you will be familiar with the buttons for formatting text to subscript text or superscript text with just a single click. Unfortunately, these buttons are not directly available in PowerPoint where you need to follow the above steps or use keyboard shortcuts to add superscript (‘ctrl’ – ‘shift’ – ‘+’) or subscript (‘ctrl’ – ‘=’). However, Ampler lets you add the ‘Superscript’ and ‘Subscript’ (and a ton of time-saving functions) to your PowerPoint toolbar to allow easy access to these and any other functions you need. You can download a free trial here:

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