Complex Compound Formatting

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 19, 2016)

Applying simple character formatting is easy—just use the tools on the toolbar or display the Font dialog box and make changes there. What happens if you want to apply a bunch of different formats to the same character? Jake described his particular complex formatting needs, where he needed a superscripted character to have both an underline and an overline.

Getting a superscripted character to be underlined is easy:

  1. Select the character.
  2. Choose Font from the Format menu. Word displays the Font dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Font dialog box.

  4. Select the Superscript check box.
  5. Using the Underline Style drop-down, indicate the type of underline you want.
  6. Click OK.

It is getting the overline character that is trickier. Overlining is not a formatting attribute that you can apply to characters in Word. You can, however, use fields to add an overline, even to superscripted and underlined characters. Follow these steps:

  1. Don't do any superscript or underline formatting quite yet.
  2. Position the insertion point where you want the specially formatted character to appear.
  3. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert field braces.
  4. Type the following, without the sentence-terminating period, replacing the uppercase U with the character you want overlined: EQ \o(U,).
  5. Between the comma and the closing parenthesis, press Ctrl+F9 again. This places a second field, this one within the first field.
  6. Type EQ \s\up10(_).
  7. Delete any extra spaces within the two field braces.
  8. Press Shift+F9 twice to show the results of the field code.
  9. Select the results (your overlined character).
  10. Apply superscript and underline formatting, as desired.

Depending on the formatting you are applying to the character, you may need to adjust the vertical position of the overline. You can do this by adjusting the value in step 6. As shown above, the field moves the underscore character up by 10 points. If this results in a look you don't want, experiment with different values until the overline is positioned just right.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5396) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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