If you’ve ever taken a math class before, you’re probably familiar with this notation: X1. The 1 at the bottom of X is called the subscript of X.
It is easy to add the subscript to a letter when you’re writing by hand. However, one problem that many people face is that they don’t know how to add a subscript in a word processing document like MS Word or Google Docs.
Knowing how to add a subscript in a word processing document is highly useful. For example, if you’re typing notes for your math class, you would want to use the subscript for the notation. It is also useful for students and teachers of other subjects, like chemistry.
Even if you’re not currently a student or teacher, you would still benefit from knowing how to add a subscript- you never know when you might have to use it!
In this article, we will be talking about how to add a subscript in Google Docs. Specifically, we will first be talking about the difference between subscript and superscript. We will then be talking about the following three methods for adding the subscript:
- Keyboard shortcut for adding the subscript
- Adding the subscript from the Format menu
- Adding the subscript by inserting special characters
Let’s get started.
The difference between subscript and superscript
One point of confusion that people commonly have is between subscript and superscript. These two types of formatting are related but different.
As the ‘sub’ suggests, the subscript option is used for adding characters (which could be letters, numbers or special characters) to the bottom corners of text, like this: Yi or iY.
On the other hand, as the ‘super’ suggests, superscript is used for adding characters to the top corners of text, like this: Xone or oneX.
Superscript is typically more commonly used than subscript. For example, you might have recognized the use of superscript for trademarks and copyrights.
The steps for adding subscript and superscript are similar, but in this document, we will only be focusing on subscript. We will talk about adding superscripts in a separate article.
Now that this difference is clarified, let’s learn the methods for adding a subscript in Google Docs.
Method 1: Keyboard shortcut for adding the subscript
We will first be talking about the keyboard shortcut for adding the subscript as it is the easiest and most convenient method of adding a subscript.
Here are the steps to follow.
Step 1: Open your Google Docs document.
First of all, open the Google Docs document in which you want to add the subscript. You can do this by going to the Google Docs homepage (docs.google.com) and selecting one of the documents under ‘Recent documents.’ But first, make sure that you are signed in to your Google account.
If you don’t already have a document, you can create a new one. Click on the plus sign at the top of the screen to create a blank document that you can format however you like. You can also select one of the many templates that Google Docs offers for resumes, class notes, etc. to save time and effort.
Step 2: Identify the word for which you want to add the subscript and place your cursor at the end.
Next, identify the word for which you want to add the subscript. Then, place your cursor at the end of that word, like this:
Step 3: Press Control + , (or Command + , for Mac users).
To add the subscript, press the Control + , (or Command + , if you’re using a Mac) keys on your keyboard. Your cursor will shrink to the bottom right corner of the text.
Now, type out the text.
Step 4: Press Control/Command + , again.
To get out of the subscript mode, press Control/Command + , once again.
Method 2: Adding the subscript from the Format menu
A longer method of adding subscript in your Google Docs document is by going to the Format menu. If for some reason you’re not able to use the keyboard shortcut for adding a subscript, you can follow this method instead.
Below are the steps for this method.
Step 1: Place your cursor at the end of the word for which you want to add the subscript.
Like before, you have to first identify the word for which you want to add a subscript and place your cursor at the end of the word. If you don’t do this, Google Docs will insert the subscript wherever your cursor is.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Format’ tab.
The ‘Format’ tab is located in the top left corner of the screen, to the right of the ‘Insert’ tab. Click on it to open the Format drop down menu.
Step 3: Hover over the ‘Text’ option.
Next, click on or hover over the text option in the drop down menu. This is the first option in the menu.
Step 4: Choose the subscript option.
To add the subscript to your document, click on the ‘Subscript’ option, which is the last option in the first section of the menu.
Step 5: Remove the subscript mode.
To remove the subscript mode, repeat steps 1 to 3.
Method 3: Adding the subscript by inserting special characters
The last method for adding subscripts that we will be discussing is by using special characters.
Note that this method is only useful if you want to insert very specific special characters that you cannot insert from your keyboard. Latin and Greek letters are some examples.
Hence, one advantage of this method is that it allows you to insert characters that you cannot enter by pressing keys on your keyboard. Another advantage is that you can even draw the characters you want to insert, which allows you to more easily search for the right symbols.
On the other hand, if you simply want to enter normal text in your subscript (that is, text that you can enter by pressing keys on your keyboard), then you should follow one of the previous two methods.
With that introduction, let’s learn the steps for this method.
Step 1: Click on the ‘Insert’ tab.
First, click on the ‘Insert’ tab, which is located in the top right corner of the screen (to the right of the ‘View’ tab).
Step 2: Click on the ‘Special characters’ option from the drop down menu.
When you click on the ‘Insert’ tab, a drop down menu will open up. From this menu, click on the ‘Special characters’ option. This will open a new window on your screen.
Step 3: Enter ‘subscript’ in the search box.
In the search box on the ‘Special characters’ window, type ‘subscript.’ To the left, you will see several special characters on the screen. Some examples of these characters are the Greek letters Rho and Phi.
If you are looking for a specific symbol, you can also draw it to find it (rather than use the search box). For example, you can draw a circle and Google Docs will automatically search for and show all related symbols to you.
Step 4: Click on the symbol of your choice.
First, place your cursor at the end of the word for which you want to add the subscript. Then, click on a symbol of your choice from the ‘Special characters’ window. Google Docs will then insert that character as the subscript in the position your cursor is in.
Deleting the subscript
If you want to remove the subscript, simply click on the subscript text and press the Backspace or Delete button (for Mac) on your keyboard. Then, click anywhere else in the document.
This is all we have for you today. Here’s a brief recap of everything we learned.
Subscript refers to text that you add at the button corners of your text. On the other hand, superscript refers to text that you add at the top corners of your text. Both of these types of format are widely used in academics (mainly maths and chemistry).
There are 3 methods you can follow to add subscripts in your document: using the keyboard shortcut, the Format menu or the ‘Special characters’ option in the Insert menu.
Thank you for reading!
Learn how to add Superscript in a Google Doc