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Mac Typing Tips: Subscription, Superscripts and Equations

I know all of you students out there who are looking forward to your summer vacation but school will soon be back in session. For those of you taking math or science courses, you may have wondered how to write super scripts and subscriptions on a Mac. What I mean is to write something like that (and we can't do any of this within the blogging tool, so I'll post a screenshot below):

  Examples of super scripts and subscription
Examples of super scripts and subscription [19659004] It's actually several different ways to do this, and in the interest of covering all our bases, we show you all of them.

TextEdit Method

The above examples were done on a slightly used standard Mac app, TextEdit . To try this, launch Applications> TextEdit, create a new document by clicking the New Document button, and make sure TextEdit is in rich text mode. If the blank document has a ruler on top of it, it is a Rich Text document; if it does not, it is a plain text document. What is the difference? Rich Text allows more formatting of characters and the document as a whole.

In the Rich Text document, type the characters you want to add the subscription or superscript to. As an example, let's use the chemical formula for propane and type C3H8. Now select 3 by dragging the cursor over it, then select Format> Font> Baseline> Subscript. Do the same for 8. You should see something like this:

  The chemical formula for propane after drawing the numbers
The chemical formula for propane after drawing the numbers

Although it is better than just seeing C3H8, it is still not formatted the way you see it in a textbook – usually the numbers that indicate the number of atoms in a particular element are smaller than the letters of the element. To fix this, highlight the numbers at a time and change the font size. The corrected formula should look like this:

  The formula after changing the font size of the numbers
The formula after changing the font size of the numbers

It looks better. You may have to play with the font size to make things look "right"; in this example, the letters were in 72-point text for readability and the subscriptions were 55 point .

For superscripts, use the same method, but choose Format> Font> Baseline> Superscript instead of subscription.

Page Method

It is a handy app for writing mathematical equations or chemical formulas that are free for all Mac, iPhone and iPad owners – Pages . The method of using superscripts and subscriptions is similar to what we just did in TextEdit, but fortunately for us the size of the pages of the written or signed letter or number changes.

To use a superscript or subscription to a letter or number, select it in a Pages document, and then select Format> Font> Baseline> Superscript or Subscript. Quite simply, the formatted formula can be copied and pasted into most other rich text or HTML editors, including Apple Mail.

Need to get even more fancy with mathematical equations? Pages has a built-in Equation Editor invoked by choosing Insert> Equation. For simple equations, simply enter something like x ^ 2 + y ^ 2 = z ^ 2 (where the caret symbol (^) indicates taking a variable or constant to a force) gives a nicely formatted equation:

  An Equation Formatted in Pages Equation Editor
An Equation Formatted in Pages Equation Editor

If you know LaTeX or MathML markup languages ​​(they are used to describe math notations), you can get very fancy. Therefore, if you find that you need to create documents with complex equations, it is a good idea to learn either MathML or LaTeX. Apple provides a useful knowledge base article that describes the use of Equation Editor and the two markup languages ​​in iWork (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) and iBooks Author.

Here is an example of how complex your equations can be. The LaTeX mark for the integral of e ^ x dx from -N to N is “ int _ {- N} ^ {N} e ^ x , dx”. Placing this in Equation Editor gives this rather elegant result:

  Equation Editor can handle integrals, matrices and complex equations.
Equation Editor can handle integrals, matrices and complex equations.

The best part of Equation Editor? It is also available in the iOS versions of Pages, Keynote, and . To add an equation to a document, just press + in the top right corner of a document and select Equation. Need to edit an existing equation? Double-tap it to open the Equation Editor, then change LaTeX or MathML to fit your needs.

The Character Viewer Method

The latest method for writing superscripts and subscripts uses macOS Character Viewer . Not familiar with that tool? It is available as "Show emoji and symbols" in the menu bar if you enable "Show keyboard and emoji viewers in the menu bar" in System Preferences> Keyboard, or you can take a shortcut and just type Command (⌘) + Control + Spacebar.

When Character Viewer appears and you want to enter a superscript or subscription number (this does not work for letters), type "superscript" or "subscript" in the search field. What you see are a number of characters that can be used as a subscription or subscription. Double-click the number you want to use as a subscription or subscription, and it will be inserted at the cursor in the current document.

  Character Viewer Superscript Numbers
Character Viewer Superscript Numbers

Since these are all standard Unicode characters and symbols, they can be used anywhere, even on blogs where you can't expect to see entered in a line of text. You can love and text your friends that you drink some H₂O !

The ability to add super scripts, subscriptions, and equations to your documents may not make you a better mathematician or scientist, but your technical documents will look good.

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