How to Write Subscript in Excel (7 Effective Ways)

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One of the frequently used features in Excel is the ability to format text, numbers, and formulas to make them more visually appealing and easier to understand. Subscript is one such formatting option that is used to lower the height of text and numbers to make them appear smaller and below the baseline. In this article, we will explore how to write subscripts in Excel and some practical applications of this feature.

How to write subscript in Excel

How to Write Subscript in Excel: 7 Effective Ways

We use subscripts to write chemical compositions, expressions of different scientific constants, and many other cases. The dataset below contains such texts that we need to convert specific characters to subscripts.

Sample dataset

Using this dataset, we will show how to write a subscript in Excel. Let’s convert some specific character (number or alphabet) to subscripts by applying 7 different effective ways.

1. Use Format Cells Dialog Box to Write Subscript

You can change the appearance of your text using the Format Cells options. Furthermore, you can add subscripts using the same tool.

  • Select the required character that you want as a subscript.
  • Right-click on the mouse >> select Format Cells from the context menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

Select character to format

  • Both these ways will open the Format Cells dialog box.
  • Select Subscript from the Effects group >> click OK.

Subscript command in Format Cells dialog box

  • This will make the selected character a subscript.
  • Repeat the process if you need to convert other characters to subscripts.

Repeat for other characters

Repeating the process will transform any character you want into a subscript.

How to write subscript in Excel

Alternative: There is another way to open the Format Cells dialog box. Click the Font Settings icon under the Font group from the Home tab.

Alternative way to open Format Cells dialog box

The next steps are similar, but the way to open the dialog box is different.

Read More: How to Write CO2 in Excel

2. Write Subscript with Keyboard Shortcut

The easiest way to write a subscript in Excel is to use the keyboard shortcut. This method will provide motion to your task

  • Select the character you as subscript >> press CTRL+SHIFT+F.

Keyboard shortcut to subscript character

  • This will open the Format Cells dialog box.
  • Press ALT+B again and this will select the Subscript option.
  • Click OK.

Select subscript in Font settings

This will provide the same output as the previous method. In fact, this is also a representation of the previous method but we have just used a keyboard shortcut.

3. Customize Subscript Command

You can customize the Subscript command and make it visible in the Quick Access Toolbar or on the Excel Ribbon.

3.1. Customize Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar is located at the top of the Excel worksheet. Users can customize Quick Access Toolbar and activate the necessary command here for quick access to any command.

  • Click the drop-down menu button at the end of the toolbar.
  • Subsequently, a drop-down menu will appear.
  • Select the More Commands option.

Commands from Quick Access Toolbar

  • The Excel options dialog box will appear here.
  • Go to Quick Access Toolbar >> select Subscript from choose commands >> click Add >> click OK.

Subscript in Excel options

Thus, the Subscript option pops up in the Quick Access Toolbar.

  • Now select the character you want to format as subscript >> click the Subscript command from the toolbar and you will see the output just like it was in Method 1.

Apply subscript command

3.2. Add Subscript Command in Ribbon

Just like you can customize the Quick Access Toolbar, you can customize the Excel Ribbon and add the Subscript command in the ribbon.

  • Right-click anywhere on the Excel Ribbon.
  • Consequently, a context option menu will appear. Click Customize the Ribbon option.

Customize the Ribbon

  • The Excel Options dialog box will appear here also like the previous method.
  • Go to Quick Access Toolbar >> Select Subscript from choose commands.
  • Select the tab where you want to add the Subscript command (i.e. Insert) from Customize the Ribbon >> select New Group >> click Add >> OK.

Add subscript command in Excel ribbon

  • Subsequently, the Subscript command will be visible in the Insert tab.

Added subscript feature in Excel

Now, you can apply this command just like the previous method to add subscripts.

4. Insert Subscript with Ink Equation

The Ink Equation is an interesting feature of Excel. In this tool, you can doodle your mouse to write your equations. Moreover, you can add subscripts in this way.

  • Click the Equation button in the Symbols group in the Insert tab >> click Ink Equation.

Insert Ink equation

  • Consequently, the Math Input Control box will pop up.
  • Using your mouse,  write the equations in the input box.
  • Click Insert.

Write Ink equation

  • The text you have written will be visible in the worksheet.

Drag equation to required Excel cell

  • Drag it to your desired cell or location. That’s it.

Drag equation to required Excel cell

5. Applying Symbol Command to Write Subscript

There are some subscript and superscript symbols available in Microsoft Excel. You can insert symbols to add subscripts according to your needs. But, one thing that is noticeable here is that there are a limited number of subscript symbols available in the system. You can only insert the available symbols.

  • Locate the Symbol in the Symbols group of the Insert tab.

Symbol command under Insert tab

  • The Symbol drop box will open up.
  • Now, select Superscripts and Subscripts in the Subset box.
  • Afterward, click the desired subscript text and close the box.

Insert symbol from Excel symbol library

  • The symbol will appear in the required cell.

Subscript symbol in Excel

In this way, you can insert the available symbol of the system. One thing is noticeable here is that, in the other methods, the character is formatted as a subscript, so it will be like the normal text in the formula box. But in the case of inserting symbols, you will see the subscript in the formula box also.

Excel text with Subscript symbol

6. Apply UNICHAR Function to Add Subscript for Numeric Value

The UNICHAR function returns the Unicode character referenced by the given numeric value.

There are some Unicode numbers available for subscript numbers  (as you can see in the image below). You can use the UNICHAR function only when you need to write subscripted numbers, not alphabets.

For example, You have H2SO4 and you want to make the 2 and 4 subscripts. In this case, you can use the UNICHAR function to create a formula.


 💡 Formula Breakdown

8322 and 8324 are Unicode numbers for subscript 2 and subscript 4 consecutively. So UNICHAR(8322) will return subscript 2 and  UNICHAR(8324) will return subscript 4.

“H”&UNICHAR(8322)&”SO”&UNICHAR(8324) = “H”&”“&”SO”&”” = HSO

UNICHAR function to write subscript in Excel

7. Use VBA Code to Insert Subscript

Excel VBA is a powerful tool that is used to automate tasks. You can use VBA macro to convert a specific character to a subscript. For this, you will need to launch the VBA editor window first.

  • Press ALT+F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor window.
  • Click Insert >> select Module.

Insert Module

  • Insert your code in the Module window.

VBA code to insert subscript in Excel


Sub ConvertToSubscript()
    Dim cell As Range
    Dim subscript As String
    Dim i As Integer
    Dim subscriptPositions As Variant
    Dim subscriptChar As Variant
    ' Define the positions of the characters to convert to subscript
    subscriptPositions = Array(2, 4, 5, 6, 7)
    For Each cell In Selection
        subscript = cell.Value
        For Each subscriptChar In subscriptPositions
        ' Check if the subscript position is within the length of the text
            If subscriptChar <= Len(subscript) Then
                cell.Characters(subscriptChar, 1).Font.subscript = True
            End If
        Next subscriptChar
    Next cell
End Sub

 💡 Code Explanation

  • The positions of the characters to convert to subscript are defined on “subscriptPositions = Array(2, 4, 5, 6, 7)” this part. In this example, it’s set to convert characters in positions 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 to subscript, but you can modify this array to target different positions in the text as needed.
  • The “For Each Cell In Selection” loop will iterate through each cell in the selected range and perform the subscript conversion on each one. Inside the loop, the current cell’s value is stored in the “subscript” variable
  • The “For Each subscriptChar In subscriptPositions” loop will iterate through each position in the subscriptPositions array and check if it falls within the length of the current cell’s value.
  • If the subscript position is within the length of the text, the “If” statement will be evaluated as true. This will use the “Characters” property of the current cell to select the specific character at the subscript position, and then set its “Font.subscript” property to true, which will convert it to subscript.
  • Select the cell which you want to convert to subscript.
  • Click Run to execute the code and you will get the desired output.

How to Write Subscript and Superscript in Excel Graph

You may need to write subscripts and superscripts in an Excel graph. In this segment, we will discuss how to write subscripts and superscripts in an Excel graph.

How to Do Subscript and Superscript in Excel Graph Title

After adding title to your chart, let’s say, we need to add subscripts and superscripts to our chart title.

  • Select the character on the chart title >> press CTRL+SHIFT+F.

Write subscribe in Excel graph title

  • This will open the Font command box.
  • Select Subscript >> click OK.

Subscript in Font command box

The character will be formatted as a subscript in the chart title.

Subscript in Excel graph title

Repeat the same and select Superscript to format as superscript.

Superscript in Excel graph title

The same process will be applicable to the axis title.

How to Put Subscript and Superscript in Excel Graph Legend

Previously we have seen that, if a character is formatted as a subscript, the output can be seen just in the cell, not in the formula bar. Font formatting doesn’t work for chart legend.

Font formatting not working for chart legend

So you have to make the subscript visible in the input box also. And for that, you need to insert subscript or superscript symbols in your data.

Insert symbol in Excel chart legend

Inserting symbols can add subscripts in the chart legend.

Subscript and superscript symbol in Excel chart legend

Excel Subscript Not Working

There could be several reasons why the Excel subscript feature is not working. Here are some troubleshooting steps you can take:

  1. Check if the cell is formatted as text: If the cell that you’re trying to subscript is formatted as Text, the subscript feature won’t work. To fix this, change the cell format to general or number.
  2. Check if the subscript shortcut key is enabled: The subscript feature in Excel can be activated using a shortcut key combination, which is CTRL+SHIFT+F. Make sure that the shortcut key is enabled in Excel by going to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > Math AutoCorrect and checking the box for “Use Math AutoCorrect rules outside of math regions”.
  3. Try using the Font dialog box: If the subscript shortcut key doesn’t work, you can try using the Font dialog box. To access this, select the text you want to subscript and right-click it. Choose Font from the menu and then select Subscript from the options.

How to Write Superscript in Excel

The process to add superscript in Excel is similar to subscript.

  • Activate the cell >> select your desired character >> press CTRL+SHIFT+F.

The 35-Select character of a text string to insert superscript in Excel

  • From the Font tab of the Format Cells dialog box, select Superscript >> click OK.

Superscript in Excel Font command box

Well, you’re done. Your selected characters will now be formatted as superscripts.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use subscripts in a header or footer?

Yes, you can use subscripts in a header or footer by first selecting the header or footer section. Then, you can insert the text that you want to subscript, highlight the characters that you want to subscript, right-click on them, and select the “Font” option. In the font dialog box, check the subscript box and click OK to apply the change.

2. Can I use subscripts in a comment?

Yes, you can use subscripts in a comment by first selecting the cell that you want to add the comment to, right-clicking on the cell, and selecting the “Insert Comment” option. In the comment box, you can insert the text that you want to subscript, highlight the characters that you want to subscript, right-click on them, and select the “Font” option. In the font dialog box, check the subscript box and click OK to apply the change.

3. How do I undo subscripts in a cell?

To undo a subscript in a cell, you need to select the cell that contains the subscript and then click on the subscript button (X₂) in the Home tab. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+1 to open the format cells dialog box, select the font tab, uncheck the subscript box, and click OK.

Takeaways from This Article

  • Subscript is a useful tool in Excel for displaying chemical formulas, mathematical equations, and other specialized text.
  • You can easily write a subscript in a cell by selecting the cell and clicking on the subscript button in the Home tab or by using the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+F.
  • Subscripts can also be used in headers, footers, comments, and shapes or text boxes in Excel.
  • To undo a subscript in a cell, simply select the cell and uncheck the subscript box in the format cells dialog box.

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In conclusion, knowing how to write a subscript in Excel can be a valuable skill for anyone who needs to display specialized text or equations in their spreadsheets. Whether you’re working on a scientific report, a financial analysis, or any other type of document, using subscripts can help you convey important information in a clear and professional manner. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can easily write subscripts in cells, charts, headers, footers, comments, and shapes or text boxes. You can also use formulas and other advanced features to make the most of this tool.

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Yousuf Khan
Yousuf Khan

Hello! This is MD Yousuf Khan. I am a graduate & post-graduate in Information Technology from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh. Currently, I am writing articles for ExcelDemy. I am an independent, self-motivated person with enthusiasm to learn new things, and always try to do my best in any work assigned to me.

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