Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Superscripts in Custom Formats.

Superscripts in Custom Formats

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 20, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


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 Cells option on the Format menu to make these font modifications. This menu option is not available when you are defining custom formats, however. 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 (1946) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) 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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