How to put Bar Above a Letter in MS Word

Many occasions need putting a bar above a letter in a document. In mathematics, it represents a mean or average. In digital electronics, the bar over a character means the inverse of the signal.

Microsoft Word offers several such bars. Word names the bar types in different ways, depending on their function, as shown in the table below:

Bar TypeASCII CodeCharacteristicsEffects
Combining MacronAlt+0772Short Mark over character on left of cursorAB̄C
Combining OverlineAlt+0773Long Mark over character on left of cursorAB̅C
MacronAlt+0175Short Mark over a specific character ¯

Use the bar type most suitable for your purpose.

Hint:

  • Macrons are suitable for lower case alphabets.
  • Overlines are suitable for upper-case alphabets and numerals.

8 ways to Place Bar Above Letters in MS Word

  • Using the keyboard
  • Using Maths AutoCorrect feature
  • Using Equation Editor and Overbar
  • Using New Equation and Accents
  • Using Field Codes and Option Switches
  • Using Equation Editor and Field Codes
  • Using Field Equations
  • Using Field options to draw a top border

We will explain all the methods and variants in simple step-wise instructions. We will also present the advantages and disadvantages of each method.


Method #1: Using the keyboard

Step #1: Open the Word document

Open the Word document.

Place the cursor after the character on which you want to place the bar.

Step #2: Place the bar 

Press the Alt key on your keyboard. Hold the Alt key down and press the ASCII codes (see table) in the numerical keypad.

Depending on the code, the bar will be either a combining macron or a combining overline.

Advantages: Quick and relatively easy.

Disadvantages: Usable only with keyboards with a numerical keypad.


Method #2: Using the Math AutoCorrect feature

Step #1: Open the Word document

Open the Word document.

Step #2: Change the AutoCorrect options

Click on the File tab on the top menu bar.

This opens the File menu.

Click on the Options tab at the bottom.

In the Word Options menu that opens, click on Proofing.

Click on AutoCorrect Options on the right-hand side.

In the AutoCorrect dialog that opens, click on the Math AutoCorrect tab.

Make sure to check both items under the Math AutoCorrect tab.

Click on OK to exit the AutoCorrect dialog.

Click on Ok to exit the Word Options menu.

Step #3: Add a bar above a character.

In the document, place the cursor immediately after the character on which you want the bar to appear.

Type \bar<space> immediately after the character.

Word places a bar above the character.

Advantages: Relatively easy method.

Disadvantages: None


Method #3: Using Equations Editor and Overbar

Step #1: Open the Word document

Place the cursor where you want the character with a bar to appear.

Step #2: Insert a New Equation

Click on the Insert tab on the top menu bar to change the ribbon.

In the Symbols section, click on the small triangle on the right of the Equation tab.

This opens the Built-In Equation menu.

Click on the Insert New Equation tab at the bottom of the menu.

This changes the ribbon to Equation Tools Design.

Word also places a text box with Type equation here in the document.

Step #3: Place an accent

In the section Structures, click on the Accent tab.

In the Accent list that drops down, scroll to Overbars and Underbars.

Click on Overbar.

Word places a dotted square with an overbar at the cursor.

Step #4: Place the character

Click inside the dotted square and type the required character.

The character with the overbar will appear in italics.

Select the character and type Ctrl+I to change it to regular form.

Advantages: Useful for any character.

Disadvantages: The character with the overbar is in Cambria Math font, and you cannot change it.


Method #4: Using New Equation and Accents

Step #1: Open the Word document

Place the cursor where you want the character with a bar to appear.

Step #2: Insert a New Equation

Click on the Insert tab on the top menu bar to change the ribbon.

In the Symbols section, click on the small triangle on the right of the Equation tab.

This opens the Built-In Equation menu.

Click on the Insert New Equation tab at the bottom of the menu.

This changes the ribbon to Equation Tools Design.

Word also places a text box with Type equation here in the document.

Step #3: Place an accent

In the section Structures, click on the Accent tab.

In the Accents list that drops down, click on the bar icon.

Word places a dotted square with an overbar at the cursor.

Step #4: Place the character

Click inside the dotted square and type the required character.

The character with the bar will appear in italics.

Select the character and type Ctrl+I to change it to its regular form.

Advantages: Useful for any character.

Disadvantages: The character with the overbar is in Cambria Math font, and you cannot change it.


Method #5: Using Field Codes and Option Switches

Step #1: Open the Word document

Place the cursor where you want the character to appear with a bar.

Step #2: Insert a Field code.

Click on the Insert tab on the top menu bar to change the ribbon.

In the Text section, click on the Quick Parts tab.

In the drop-down menu, click on the Field tab.

The Field dialog box will open.

Under Field names, select Eq.

Click on the Field Codes tab at the bottom.

Click on the new tab, Options.

Step #3: Insert Option Switches

In the Field Options dialog that opens, under Switches, click on the switch \O().

Click on the tab, Add to Field.

Under Field Codes, type within the brackets, b,<macron code>.

Note: You can type any other character in place of b.

For macron code, press the Alt key and type 0175 on the numerical keypad only.

Click on Ok to exit the Field Options dialog box.

Click on Ok to exit the Field dialog box.

Word introduces the character with a bar on top.

Advantages: 

The font of the character with the bar is the same as that of the other characters in the sentence.

The font can be changed as necessary.

Disadvantages: 

A space appears after the character, and you cannot remove it.

Some fonts do not display the bar prominently.


Method #6: Using Equation Editor and Field Codes

Step #1: Open the Word document

Place the cursor where you want the character with a bar to appear.

Step #2: Insert an Equation.

Click on the Insert tab on the top menu bar to change the ribbon.

In the Text section, click on the Quick Parts tab.

In the drop-down menu, click on the Field tab.

The Field dialog box will open.

Under Field names, select Eq.

Click on the Equation Editor tab on the right

Word opens a text box and an Equation dialog box in the document.

Click on the Underbar and Overbar Template in the Equation dialog box.

Click on the Overbar in the menu that opens.

Type the required character in the text box.

Click outside the text box to see the result.

Double-click on the character with the overbar and edit it for style and size.

Advantages: Useful for any character.

Disadvantages: The character with the overbar is in Cambria Math font, and you cannot change it.


Method #7: Using Field equations

Step #1: Open the Word document

Place the cursor where you want the character with a bar to appear.

Step #2: Insert an empty Field.

Press the Ctrl key and the F9 key on your keyboard to insert an empty field.

Within the curly brackets, type:

EQ<space>\O<space>(b,<macron code>)

Note: You can type any other character in place of b.

For macron code, press the Alt key and type 0175 on the numerical keypad only.

Right-click on the field and select Toggle Field Codes.

Ignore any grammar mistakes.

Word displays the final result.

Advantages: 

The font of the character with the bar is the same as that of the other characters in the sentence.

You can change the font as necessary.

Disadvantages: 

A space appears after the character, and you cannot remove it.

Some fonts do not display the bar prominently.


Method #8: Using Field options to draw a top border

Step #1: Open the Word document

Place the cursor where you want the character to appear with a bar.

Step #2: Insert a Field code.

Click on the Insert tab on the top menu bar to change the ribbon.

In the Text section, click on the Quick Parts tab.

In the drop-down menu, click on the Field tab.

The Field dialog box will open.

Under Field names, select Eq.

Click on the Field Codes tab at the bottom.

Click on the new tab Options.

Step #3: Insert Option Switches

In the Field Options dialog that opens, under Switches, click on the switch \X().

Click on Add to Field.

Under Field Codes, ensure the equation looks like: EQ<space>\X<space>\to<space>(B).

Note: You can type any other character in place of B.

Click on Ok to exit the Field Options dialog box.

Click on Ok to exit the Field dialog box.

Word introduces the character with an overline.

Advantages: 

The font of the character with the overline is the same as that of the other characters in the text.

The font can be changed as necessary.

Disadvantages: 

A space appears after the character, and you cannot remove it.


Conclusion

We have shown you eight methods of putting a bar above a letter in an MS Word document. Use the method that suits you best, after looking at the advantages and disadvantages.

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