Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Superscript and Subscript at the Same Place.

Superscript and Subscript at the Same Place

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 10, 2014)


Tom needs a way of having a subscripted character and a superscripted character appear in the same space, so that one is exactly over the other. He tried using the Equation Editor, but decided that he didn't like the results and needed to find a different solution.

There are a couple of things you can try. First of all, you can create two small text boxes and place them in close proximity to each other. Adjust the box size, box position, and font size, as desired, to get the effect you want.

Another possible solution is to adjust the formatting of two adjacent characters. Follow these general steps:

  1. Type the character you want as a superscript and format it as a superscript.
  2. Type the character you want as the subscript and format it as a subscript.
  3. Select the first character (the one that is superscripted).
  4. Open the Font dialog box and make sure the Character Spacing tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Character Spacing tab of the Font dialog box.

  6. Using the Spacing drop-down list, choose Condensed.
  7. In the By box to the right of the drop-down you used in step 5, enter "5 pt" (without the quote marks).
  8. Click OK.

You may need to experiment with the spacing amount entered in step 6; different point sizes may be required for different typefaces and font sizes.

A third solution is to use the EQ (equation) field that has been available in Word since before the Equation Editor was around. You can follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+F9. This inserts a pair of field braces within your document.
  2. Type "eq \a(1,2)" (without the quote marks). You should replace the 1 and 2 with the digits you want superscripted and subscripted, respectively.
  3. Press F9 to collapse the field and change to the field's results.

You can, if desired, also use the \o switch with the equation field. Just replace the \a with \o (step 2) and then superscript the 1 and subscript the 2. When you collapse the field, you may get just want you want in your display.

There is one "gottcha" with creating these types of field: If the field appears near the end of a line, Word will wrap the text right after the field and before the next word. This may not seem like a big deal, unless you want to make the field results stay with the following word. It is virtually impossible to do this with such a field, however.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (508) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Superscript and Subscript at the Same Place.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 1 + 8?

2016-12-09 21:52:35


Finally, a simply way to type nuclear isotopes in Word. Thanks!

{eq a(4,2)He}

2016-07-13 16:44:24


Finally, I can produce documents as I previously did in WordPerfect - really miss WP and it formatting options!

2016-05-25 20:11:02


Sorry to double up, but Junior asked about any posibility for this in Excel where I wanted it, but I find you can't copy and paste so it's not much help.

2016-05-25 19:49:21


Thanks for the tip on super and sub scripts in the one space ctrl+F9 isn't pretty but works, adjusting the spacing doesn't work if you have two characters in either sub or sup as I do. I have cursed Word for years especially as big business can enforce use of an inferior product by flooding the market. Years ago I used Wordperfect and it was so easy with its compose character option to put two or more characters at the same space. The irony was that Wordperfect also had a superior, easy to use special character set unlike the horrid thing Word still has.

2016-04-26 14:02:37


Thanks... It was very helpful(think we can do this with excel).

2015-09-07 11:27:42


The third was just superb. You saved my day. Thanks

2015-08-15 06:37:36


Thanks for the tips. Especially the second one.

2014-10-17 08:05:01


This was a spectacular tip!!!
Thanks for it

2014-09-13 09:07:00


This was extremely helpful and easy to understand. Thank you!

2014-07-05 06:23:29

John Akpan

Thanks a lot. It was so helpful.

2014-01-06 14:03:57


Thank you so much this post was extremely helpful.
I am a student in high school writing up my chemistry labs and this has made writing the balance equations for the different reactions simple and professional. THANKS!!!

2013-10-25 05:35:50

Saad Arman

That's really great and very helpful. Thank you for this

2013-01-19 16:10:39


Thank you very much! The spacing method even works in Word for Mac. I've been missing this feature ever since Word for Mac lost its formula editor somewhere in the nineties.

2013-01-15 23:58:09


This is really cool! I followed the spacing method and it's just totally customizable.

2012-12-19 22:57:55


Thank you very much for this tip. i have been searching for this desperately.

Many tahnks again

2011-12-02 21:24:09


Your tip was awesome.Thanks for it.

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