We have all come across subscripts and superscripts in our academics or professional life, anyone who is a practitioner of scientific or mathematical disciplines is well aware of them. However, most students do not realize that they have been working with both subscripts and superscripts throughout their classes as they are not the definition or simply what it is. The superscripts and subscripts are a way to format your text that decreases the size and you can make it appear slightly higher or lower than the average text.
You might have encountered this type of formatting in various mathematical or physics formulae when writing chemical compounds and expressions or simply the trademark icon on the top of a company’s name. So let us get into more detail on what is the difference between the subscripts and the superscripts. Before we move on, you need to know about something that is known as the baseline. What is a baseline exactly? It is the horizontal alignment that encompasses your normal text. Notice how the text written in this article is in a straight line and is not moving up or down.
A Subscript is a text that you have formatted to be below the baseline. It could be either a small letter or number and is written after a particular letter or word denoting a formula or it could be a number. It “hangs” below the letter or number which is known as its base. A most common example of the subscript is writing chemical formulae, such as, the chemical formula for the compound glucose is C6H12O6 which means that it is a combination of atoms, a molecule and contains 6 carbon atoms, 12 hydrogen atoms, and 6 oxygen atoms at once.
A Superscript, on the other hand, is the opposite. Instead of being below the baseline, a superscript is a small letter or number above a particular word or number. A common use of Superscripts is the standard abbreviations for service mark ℠ or trademark ™. The signs for copyright © and registered trademark ® are also sometimes superscripted but it depends on the company’s taste or policy of how they want their logo.
Typing Subscript & Superscript Text in Mac OS X
Now that you are familiar with what subscripts and superscripts are, you know how we write them when we are using the pen and paper but how do you propose they transition on to a computer or specifically a Mac? Sure you could try decreasing the size of the font but that is not the same thing as moving the text below the baseline and even so, how will you move the text above the baseline to make it a superscript?
Well, no need to worry as we have got you covered in this regard. Formatting your text into a subscript or superscript is fairly simple; it is only a matter of shifting the text around the baseline. In the case of Mac OS X, you have two text editing software available, you can use either Pages or TextEdit, both of these applications will use the same principle of shifting the text higher or lower to the baseline if we are to apply it properly.
1. First, type your text as you normally would but when you encounter a point where you need to insert a typescript or superscript, pause. It is not preferable to continue writing as making the previously written text later into a subscript or superscript can cause a lot of formatting problems.
2. When you are at that point, go to the Format menu and select Font from the options that are dropped down.
3. Next, proceed to the Baseline submenu and select either Superscript if you want to move your text above the baseline or Subscript if you want to move the text below the baseline.
4. After you are done with the selection, the text you enter next will be either in a subscript or superscript format.
5. If you want to return to the normal text that follows the baseline, go back to the same Baseline menu and click on Use Default. You will now write in the normal way.
If you want to increase the size of your subscript or superscript, then you can also make use of the Raise and Lower options present in the Baseline submenu to create more apparent superscripts or subscripts. You can even edit the font of these formats that will synergize with the base font of the text.
Use Keyboard Shortcuts for Superscript & Subscript in Pages App
There is a quicker way of implementing the subscript or superscript format on Mac OS and that is to use keyboard shortcuts or keystrokes. The only downside is that it is only present in the Pages app; this feature is not available in TextEdit. You can add your own keystrokes to TextEdit or any other text editing application for that matter but you have to make sure that it does not coincide with any other keystrokes. You can set up the manual keystrokes by going to the System Preferences, then Keyboards and lastly Keyboard Shortcuts.
In the Pages application, the shortcut for going into the Superscript mode is the combination of the Command, Control and = key. Given as Command+Control+=
The shortcut for going into the Subscript mode is the combination of the Command, Control and – key. Given as Command+Control+-
Once you press these keys at the same time you will be shifted to either a superscript or subscript mode and any text you type will be above or below the baseline. There is also a way to go back to the default format via keystrokes, all you have to do is to press the three keys again and it will go back to the normal way of formatting. Think of these keys as a “switch”, you can turn these keys on to go from multiple modes.