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Keyboard shortcut for subscript and superscript in Word not working

You can use a keyboard shortcut to add a subscript or superscript into your Word document. You can insert these small numbers below or above the standard text in Word. But what should you do if the keyboard shortcut for subscript and superscript in Word is not working? You should check a few things before you can fix this problem. This article will guide you through all the steps to find the solution for the keyboard shortcut.

Check your keyboard language

Before starting, you should read the previous tutorial about inserting a subscript or superscript in Word. Then, there are several ways to add it to your Word document, just as Microsoft states. However, there is no explanation if your keyboard shortcut for subscript or superscript in Word is not working.

First of all, you should make sure you are using the English (US) keyboard when you have your Word document in English (US). If you are using a keyboard other than the language, it could cause problems when pressing the buttons.

You can check which language you use in Word by looking at the status bar below. If you can’t see anything, you have not included language in your status bar. However, that is not a problem because you can change it in a few steps.

  • Right-click anywhere on the status bar, which is highlighted in the below picture
  • Then the Customize Status Bar opens with a large selection
    • Click on Language, and you will see a tick in front of it
  • If you did it right, you should be able to see language in your status bar
Check keyboard language in Customize status bar

You can also check the language by opening the Word Options box.

First, you must right-click anywhere on your ribbon or tabs > Then select Customize the Ribbon.

keyboard shortcut for superscript in word

The Word Options box opens up on your Word document. Please select Language in the left pane. Now you can see which language you have set as your preference. Ensure that you use the same Word language as your keyboard for the shortcut to work.

how do you add subscript in word

Check which keyboard shortcut for subscript or superscript is assigned

Sometimes there is another shortcut assigned to your subscript or superscript in Word. Check this by taking your mouse cursor on the subscript or superscript icon in the ribbon. Then some information in a little box shows up. Here you should check if there is a shortcut written in bold. If another shortcut is assigned, then this could be the cause of your problems. Remember that you should always use the shortcut that shows on your Word document.

Sometimes you can only find a little box with information without shortcuts. This means that there is no shortcut for it. Therefore, you should create a new shortcut. Keep reading to understand how to do this.

Subscript and superscript shortcut in Word

But what should you do if this other shortcut does not work either? The only choice you have left is to change the shortcut. Please read the last section for more explanation about it.

Don’t use the numeric keypad

The default keyboard shortcut for inserting a subscript in Word is the CTRL button and the equal sign. The English (US) keyboard is shown in the below picture.

You should press two buttons; Ctrl and =

Keyboard shortcut for subscript and superscript in Word

The default keyboard shortcut for a superscript is almost the same. You have to press the CTRL button, the SHIFT button, and the plus sign. It means you should use the same equal sign button, but it will be the plus sign when you press SHIFT. Therefore you should not use the plus sign on the numeric keypad.

Look at the picture below, and use three buttons. Press Ctrl, Shift, and +

Keyboard shortcut for subscript and superscript in Word

Create a new keyboard shortcut for subscript or superscript

The keyboard shortcut for subscript and superscript in Word is still not working. If you have tried all the above suggestions, there is another solution. You must create a new shortcut in the Customize Keyboard box, but we need to open it first.

  • Open your Word document
  • Right-click anywhere on the ribbon or tabs
  • Select Customize the Ribbon
Customize the ribbon
  • It will open the Word Options box
  • In the left pane > click on Customize Ribbon
  • On the right > Go down to Keyboard shortcuts >
    • Click on Customize
Customize Ribbon in Word options

Then it will open the Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  • Under Categories > Select Home Tab
  • Go to Commands > Scroll down by using the arrows and select Subscript
    • You can avoid scrolling down by pressing the letter S on your keyboard
  • Under Current keys, you can see the assigned shortcut
    • You have to click on it, to get a blue background
  • Now click on Remove
Change keyboard shortcut for subscript

You can see a blank line under Current keys on the left picture, as you have removed the shortcut. The next step is to create a new shortcut.

  1. Put your mouse cursor in the line under Press new shortcut key
    • Here you must press the buttons on your keyboard to create the new shortcut
    • Do not type in the shortcut
  2. Then click on Apply
  3. On the right picture, you can see that the shortcut moves to the line under Current keys
  4. Lastly, click on Close
Customize keyboard subscript in Word

Now you have successfully created a new keyboard shortcut for subscript and superscript. Did it work for you?

Read more: How to do subscript and superscript in Word »


It is frustrating if one of the keyboard shortcuts for subscript and superscript does not work or the other way around. Therefore, it is essential to check a few things before giving up. If you still can’t figure out how to use the shortcut, you should change the Customize Keyboard box. The final solution is to create a new keyboard shortcut.

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