02 Aug

Go super! (Or sub…)

Using super- and subscript is important in many scientific areas, especially chemistry and biomedicine. As well as chemical symbols, subscript is used for, amongst other things, pharmacokinetic terms and neurotransmitters and their receptors. Superscript is perhaps most often used for footnote symbols like the dagger, double dagger and section symbol (§): remember, though, that asterisks have superscripting built in, so they don’t need any action.

In Word, it’s easy to apply these styles as they usually appear on the main menu ribbon (in the Font section). In PowerPoint it takes a couple of extra clicks: highlight the letter or phrase, right click, select Font, and then subscript or superscript. The process is similar in Excel. The default setting (and I’ve never used anything else) is 30% offset.

Because many websites don’t use sub- and superscript it can sometimes be difficult to research when to apply this, but persevere – some websites will use formatting like [sub] to explain where it’s applied.

A little extra time spent on learning how to use this simple formatting correctly can make your scientific writing look much more professional!