How to Type Exponents in Word/Excel for Mac and Windows


Depending on where you want to type the exponents, It can be very easy at the same time very hard. For instance, to type exponents in Microsoft Word will only take a few mouse clicks. But it may take you forever if you try to type it in Excel, or somewhere in your web browser.

In this tutorial, I will show you where it is possible to type exponents alongside the steps to actually do so. And how to type and calculate exponents in Excel.

Without any further ado, let’s get started.

How to Type Exponents in Microsoft Word

The technique you can use to type exponents in Word is the Superscript command.

A superscript is a character that is set slightly above the normal line of type. It usually appears smaller than the rest of the text.

Use superscripts to type exponents in Word

Word has a command that allows you to type superscripts. Using this command, you can effortlessly type exponents in your Word documents. The steps below will show you how.

As an example, I’ll show you how to type 8 raised to the power 2. However, the technique applied here can be used to type any exponent in Microsoft Word.

Option: Using the Superscript Button

To type exponents in Word:

  • Place the insertion pointer at where you want to type the exponent.
  • Type your base number. In this example, it should be 8.
Type your base number
  • After you type the base number, press Ctrl+Shift+=. These hotkeys will place the cursor slightly above the line of text. Alternatively, go to the Home tab, in the Font group and click on the Superscript icon.
Press Ctrl+Shift+= Or Go to Home>Font>Superscript
  • Now type the exponent which is 2 in this example.
  • Press Ctrl+Shift+= again to switch the curser back to normal.

This is just one of the four simple ways to type exponents in Word.

The other methods are explored below.

Option 3: Type Exponents Using Keyboard Shortcut

To type exponents in Word using a keyboard shortcut, type both the base number and the exponent. Then highlight only the exponent and press Ctrl+Shift+=.

Obey the following instructions for a step-by-step instructions to Type Exponents in Word using the keyboard shortcut.

  • Open up your Word document.
  • Place the cursor at where you want to type the exponent.
  • Type both the base number and the exponent or power. For instance, if you want to type 82, just type 82.
  • Now highlight the exponent. In this example, our exponent is 2.
  • Press Ctrl+Shift+= to make the 2 a superscript.

This is how you may quickly type exponents in Microsoft Word using the superscript keyboad shortcut.

Option 3: Type exponents in Word using the Fonts Dialog

This method also involved using the superscript command but in a differnt approach.

The steps are outlined below:

  • Open up your Word document.
  • Place the cursor at where you want to type the exponent.
  • Type both the base number and the exponent or power. For instance, if you want to type 82, just type 82.
  • Now select the exponent. In this example, the exponent is 2.
  • After selecting the 2, press Ctrl+D to display the Fonts dialog.
  • On the Font tab, click to select the Superscript checkbox.
Fonts dialog
  • Click on the OK button.

This is how you may type superscript in Word using the Fonts dialog.

Option 4: Type Exponents Using the Equation Tool

This option involves using the Insert Equation tool.

Without any further ado, below are the steps involved:

  • Place your cursor at where you want to insert the exponent.
  • Now go to the Insert tab, in the Symbols group, click on the Symbol drop-down and select Equation from the list. Alternatively, press Alt+= on your keyboard. This action should display the equation field. This field is where you will type the exponent.
  • Clicking inside the field will introduce a new Design tab. Click on this Design tab.
  • From the Structures group, click on the Script button and select Superscript from the drop-down.
how to type exponents in Word
  • This will display a structure of a superscript in the equation field. Click to select the placeholder boxes and type the contents as required. For instance, to type 8 to the power 2, click on the first placeholder box and type 8 for the base number. Then click on the superscripted placeholder box and type 2.
typing exponents in Word

These are just the available and easy ways you can quickly type exponents into Microsoft Word.

Let’s see whether we can type exponents in Excel as well.

How to type exponents in Excel

How to type exponents in Excel

As in MS Word, Excel doesn’t have the same superscript command in Word, which you can use to type exponents. The superscript in Excel works differently from the one in MS Word.

It does have the equation tool that can also be used for this task. However, it also works completely different from that of Microsoft Word.

In Excel, you cannot use the equation tool to insert equations inside the cells. When you insert an equation, it appears on a rectangular shape which you can drag to fit in any cell of your choice.

typing exponents in Excel

Using the equation approach in Excel, exponents are only for display or print only since they cannot be calculated by Excel.

Below are the steps to type exponents in Excel using the Insert Equation tool:

go to Insert>Symbols>Equation

This action should display the equation field. In this field is where you will type the exponent.

How to type exponents in Excel using Equation tool
  • Click inside the field and a new Design tab will appear on the ribbon. Click on this Design tab.
  • From the Structures group, click on the Script drop-down button and select Superscript from the drop-down.
On the design tab, click Scripts and then Superscripts
  • This will display a structure of a superscript in the equation field. Click to select the placeholder boxes and type the contents as required. For instance, to type 8 to the power 2, click on the first placeholder box and type 8 as the base number. Then click on the superscripted placeholder box and type 2 as the exponent.

This is how you may type Exponents as they are in Excel.

However, using the equation approach, you cannot use the do calculations since they are placed on shapes and not in the cells.

In the next section, let’s see how you may type exponents that can be calculated in Excel.

Bonus Tip: You can also display cell content as superscripts using the Formatting tools in Excel. To do so, select the content in the cell that you want to superscript and press Ctrl+Shift+F to display the Format Cells dialog. On the Font tab, in the Effects group, select the Superscript checkbox and click on the OK button.

How to calculate exponents in Excel (Taking Powers)

What use is the exponent, especially in Excel, if it cannot calculate?

We learned from school that exponents are used for multiplying a number by itself a given number of times. This, at times, is referred to as taking the power of numbers where the term power refers to the number of times the number is multiplied.

If you want to calculate exponents rather than just display them in your Excel worksheets, Excel provides a few different ways to do that.

Let’s look at them below.

Option 1: Using the Power Function

The Power function is a mathematical function in Excel that calculates and returns the result of a number raised to a power of another number.

The Power function takes two arguments: the base number (any real number), and the power/exponent (the number that determines how many times the given number will be multiplied by itself).

The good thing about this function is that you can reference an exponent in another cell.

how to type exponents in Excel

Obey the following instructions to calculate exponents/powers in Excel using the Power function.

  • Open up Excel.
  • Select the cell that will calculate the exponent.
  • Type =Power( inside the cell.
  • Specify your arguments. To calculate 5 raised to the power 2, type 5 as the first argument and 2 as the second argument.
how to type exponents in Excel
  • Press Enter to calculate for the result.

This is one way to calculate exponents in Excel. The next option will teach another way to do it.

Option 2: Using the Caret mark – Shortcut

Another way to calculate exponents in Word is to use the caret mark or symbol. This method is for you if you don’t need to reference the exponent.

The caret symbol can be used to indicate an exponent. For instance, 5^2 is the same as 52 (five raises to the power two).

Obey the following steps if you want to calculate exponents using this method:

  • Open up Excel.
  • Click the cell that will calculate the exponent.
  • Type this formula: =5^2. To type the caret (^) mark on Windows, press Shift+6 on your keyboard (Don’t use the number keypad on the side of your keyboard).
  • Press the Enter key for the result.

These are the available ways you can type exponents.

Abdulai Abarika

My name is Abdulai Abarika , and I am the person behind this blog. I am a lifelong learner that is constantly fascinated by technology. I believe that fundamentally, all computer users are typists. So, learning how to type was the first step I took when I first decided to learn about technology. This blog is about teaching you how to type the symbols or characters hidden on the keyboard.

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