How to Add Subscript and Superscript in Google Sheets

Although we rarely need to use subscripts and superscripts in Google Sheets, there might be some special situations where you might need to include them. We see the option to add a subscript / superscript in Google Docs and Google Slides, so it might come as a surprise to many that Google Sheets has not yet included a menu item or shortcut for this.

However, there are always workarounds. In this tutorial we will show you 3 ways to add a subscript or superscript in Google Sheets:

  • using ASCII codes
  • using unicode symbols
  • using a superscript/ subscript generator

Method 1: Using ASCII Codes to Add Subscript and Superscript in Google Sheets

ASCII codes are numerical values that represent a particular character. For example, the ASCII code for the letter A is 67. Similarly, the ASCII code for the degree symbol character (°) is 176. There are ASCII codes for subscript and superscript characters too.

For example, here’s a table of ASCII codes corresponding to all the different subscript characters:

ASCII codes for subscript

You can make use of these ASCII codes to display the subscript or superscript symbol that you want to display. All you need to do is pass this code as a parameter to the CHAR function.

The CHAR function returns the character corresponding to a given ASCII code. The symbol returned depends on the character set of your computer, but this is usually the same on all computers.

Syntax for the function is as follows:

=CHAR(number)

Here, number is the ASCII code corresponding to the character you want to return.

For your convenience, we have created a Google Sheets workbook with ASCII codes corresponding to all the superscript and subscript symbols you’ll need. 

The workbook contains two sheets (tabs):

  • Superscripts
  • Subscripts
Google Sheets workbook with ASCII codes

Click on the appropriate tab to find the ASCII codes you need.

To display your required superscript / subscript symbol, simply pass the ASCII code for it to the CHAR function, as follows:

 superscript 2 in google sheets

This will display only the symbol in the cell. But we usually need to display the superscript / subscript character with other text in the same cell. There are two ways in which we can accomplish this.

The first way is to copy the formula and paste it as value in the cell where you need it. Say you want to type the notation x2. You can look for the notation corresponding to the number 2 subscript in the ASCII codes workbook provided. Here’s a link to it again.

  • Select the symbol you need from the Function column and press CTRL+C.
  • This cell actually contains the CHAR formula, as you can see in the formula bar when you click on the cell.
CHAR formulas
  • Select the cell where you want to add the subscript / superscript in Google Sheets and place your cursor by double clicking on the spot where you want the subscript/superscript displayed.
  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+V on the Keyboard to paste the value (instead of formula).
  • This will paste your required superscript/ subscript symbol in place. You can then adjust the font size as needed.

The second way to display a subscript or superscript with other text in a cell, is by directly appending the CHAR function to the text. So if you want to display the notation x2, simply use the ampersand (&) to append the CHAR function to the text “x” as follows:

=”x”&CHAR(178)
superscript 2

We passed the number 178 to the CHAR function because it is the ASCII code that represents subscript character 2.

Similarly, to display the notation H2O, we would use the following formula:

=”H”&CHAR(8322)&”O”
subscript in google sheets

Notice we used the number 8322 this time because it represents the superscript of 2.

Method 2: Using Unicode Symbols to Add Subscript and Superscript in Google Sheets

This is the easiest and quickest way to add subscript/superscript symbols in Google Sheets. Unicode symbols are kind of like emojis. They internally represent special symbols by specific codes, and can be copied and pasted to display the character they represent quite easily.

Click here to see how you can use unicodes to display different kinds of checkmarks.

Unlike ASCII codes, unicodes don’t usually need to be converted and can directly be copy-pasted anywhere.

There are numerous websites available online from where you can fetch the unicode symbol for your required subscript/superscript symbol.

One easy way is to simply Google it with the prefix “Subscript” or “superscript” as shown below, and copy-paste the symbol that appears.

Alternatively you can visit websites like unicode-table.com or compart.com to obtain the unicode symbol you need.

If you’re using the unicode-table website, follow the steps shown below:

unicode
  • Scroll down and click on the “Superscript and Subscript Letters” category.
superscript and subscript letters
  • This will open the page containing unicodes for all the subscript and superscript symbols.
  • Scroll to your required symbol and hover your mouse pointer over  it.
superscript two
  • This will display a popup showing information about the hovered symbol.
  • Click on the Copy button at the bottom of the popup displayed.
press copy
  • Now return to your Google Sheets workbook and select the cell where you want to add the subscript / superscript.
  • Place your cursor by double clicking on the spot where you want the subscript/superscript displayed.
click where you want you superscript
  • Press CTRL+SHIFT+V on the keyboard to paste the value (instead of formula).
Press CTRL+SHIFT+V on the keyboard to paste the value (instead of formula).
  • This will paste your required superscript/ subscript symbol in place. You can then adjust the font size as needed.

Method 3: Using Subscript / Superscript Generator in Google Sheets

Lastly, you can also use superscript/subscript generator applications to create the subscript/superscript forms of numbers, letters as well as some symbols.

For example, the Subscript Generator and Superscript Generator created by Lingojam allow you to do just that.

To create your required subscript/superscript, simply follow the link to the website and follow the steps shown below:

  • Type the value or symbol on the left side.
superscript generator
  • You will get the corresponding superscript/subscript version of the symbol on the right side.
superscript generator
  • Copy the symbol created and paste it in your Google Sheets workbook as needed.
Copy the symbol created and paste it in your Google Sheets workbook as needed.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we showed you how to do superscript and subscript in Google Sheets.

A lot of Google Sheets users have requested the Google product team for a superscript/subscript feature on their forum. So there’s always a possibility of having this feature included in Google Sheets someday, but until then, you can use the methods discussed in this tutorial to display at least the most popularly used (if not all) superscript/subscript symbols in Google Sheets.

Nahid Akhter author
Nahid
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Nahid Akhter is a writer, programmer, and online course content creator. She has an MS in Computer Science and has been in the education line for more than 14 years. Her specialization is in programming and Tech-writing, and her areas of interest include Office productivity, Artificial Intelligence, and Web design and development.