Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Superscripts in Custom Formats.

Superscripts in Custom Formats

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 12, 2021)

2

When working in Excel, you can easily format text so that it contains superscripts, subscripts, or whatever other formatting tricks you want. You use the Format Cells dialog box (Ctrl+Shift+F) to make these font modifications. This dialog box is not available when you are defining custom formats, however. (You can't use the tools on the Font tab of the Format Cells dialog box while you are defining a custom format on the Number tab of the Format Cells dialog box.) What if you want to place a superscript in your custom formats?

The answer is to use some of the special font characters available to Windows users. Using these characters you can easily insert superscripted numbers, as long as they are the numbers 0, 1, 2, or 3. Simply use the following shortcuts, where you hold down the Alt key as you type the numbers on the numeric keypad:

Superscript Shortcut
0 Alt+0186
1 Alt+0185
2 Alt+0178
3 Alt+0179

These shortcuts work if you are using the Arial font in your worksheet, which is the default. If you are using some other font, the character codes to create the superscripted numbers may be different. In that case, you will need to use the Windows Character Map accessory to figure out what shortcut keys to use to get the results you want. (On my Windows XP system, I can access the Character Map accessory by choosing Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Character Map. It may differ on your version of Windows. You may also need to install the Character Map using Windows Setup program if you cannot find it on your system.) When using the Character Map, you can select a symbol and see in the lower-right corner of the program window what the numeric keypad shortcut key is for the character.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8665) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Superscripts in Custom Formats.

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 9 + 5?

2021-05-12 10:29:49

Billy Thomas

I use AutoCorrect to insert a bunch of special characters. My shortcut for ² is ~2. Conversely, my shortcut for ₂ is `2. Same keys for both, which the ² being the "uppercase".


2021-05-12 05:21:32

Kiwerry

Thanks, Allen; two remarks:

On Windows 10 the character map can be found as follows:
Start Menu > Windows Accessories > Character Map

I have trouble remembering the numbers to use for the method you suggest, so I use one of the following strategies as appropriate:

Before opening the Custom Format dialogue I copy the character I want from a cell in Excel, then paste it into the custom format where I want it.

I copy a cell with the required custom formatting from another workbook (I have a collection of custom formats in my personal workbook, so they are readily available), and paste the formatting into the workbook I am currently using. This creates the custom format in the collection in the current workbook, where it can be amended if necessary.


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