How to Put Bar Above a Letter in MS Word

In mathematics, putting a bar over a letter represents a mean or average. In digital electronics, the bar over a character means the inverse of the signal. But how do you get that in MS Word?

Fortunately 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 ¯

Pick the bar type most suitable for your purpose.


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

3 Methods to place a bar above letters in Microsoft Word

  • Use the keyboard
  • Use Maths AutoCorrect feature
  • Use Equation Editor and Overbar

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

Method #1: Use the Keyboard

Using the keyboard is quick and efficient, but it does not work for everyone. It depends on your Word version, whether it is a PC or Mac, what browsers and software you are using, and even the keypad. Give it a try, otherwise apply one of the other tested methods.

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 and hold it down while entering the ASCII code (see table) in the numerical keypad.

In our example, that means that while the Alt key is pressed down, you would type the numbers 0772. Then release the Alt key.

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: Use the Math AutoCorrect Feature

To use this feature, you first have to active Math AutoCorrect, but once that is done, you can apply this method to all your documents, making it a quick and convenient method to use.

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.

In our example, that means that you type a backslash, the word bar and then press the spacebar.

Word places a bar above the character.

Advantages: Relatively easy method.

Disadvantages: None

Method #3: Use Equations Editor and Overbar

If the above methods did not work for you, then the Equations Editor may be your solution. It is a lengthier approach, but with some repetition, you should be able to do it easily.

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.


We have shown you three 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.

1 thought on “How to Put Bar Above a Letter in MS Word”

  1. Extremely Useful! I am trying to correct a scanned book text with many lines of unusual symbols to illustrate psychological processes and this tutorial has solved my problem completely because your instructions are absolutely clear


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