How To Superscript In Illustrator

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to enhance your designs with accurate and professional-looking superscript formatting. Let’s dive in!

how to superscript in illustrator

What is a Superscript?

A superscript is a word, letter, number, or symbol that appears in a smaller size and is positioned above the normal line of type. You can often see superscripts used in citations, footnotes, mathematical expressions, and chemical formulas.

mathematical symbols squared equation superscript – how to superscript in illustrator

In Adobe Illustrator, applying text superscript formatting is straightforward. When working on your design, superscripts can help you convey essential information in a clean and organized manner. 

Superscripts are essential in many fields, including academia, science, and mathematics. They allow writers to provide additional information or clarification without disrupting the flow of the main text.

How to Superscript in Illustrator

To add superscript in Illustrator, first, select the Type tool by either clicking on the “T” icon in the Toolbar or by pressing the “T” shortcut key.

Then, type your text. Click and drag to select the portion you want to convert to superscript. Go to the Character panel and select the superscript button. 

Here, there are two different ways and you’ll get in-depth yet simple steps to edit your text with superscript characters.

Method 1: Superscript Button

Step 1: Prepare the Text

First, select the Type Tool from the toolbar or press the “T” key.

select Text Type tool from toolbar in Illustrator - how to superscript in illustrator

Type your new text by clicking on the artboard. This will give a Point type text.

click once for point type text

Or click and drag the text frame into the shape of a rectangle and type inside the bounding box. This will give you an Area type text.

draw a text box with the type tool to add an area type text – how to superscript in illustrator

Step 2: Highlight the Superscript

With the text cursor, go to where you want the text to be a superscript. Then click and drag the text by highlighting it.

highlight text to superscript in Illustrator
Click and drag to highlight text with the Type tool

Step 3: Click Superscript Option

Open the Character panel by going to the top menu bar to select Window > Type > Character

select character from window and type menu – how to superscript in illustrator

Or use keyboard shortcuts, Command + T on Mac.

Open Character panel with keyboard shortcuts command and T - how to superscript in Illustrator

Or press Ctrl + T on Windows.

Open Character panel with keyboard shortcuts ctrl and T - how to superscript in Illustrator

You can also access it from the Control panel.

Note: There’s no need to change your cursor to the Selection tool. Maintain the Type tool.

Go to the Character panel menu on the top right-hand side of the panel. Click and select Show Options.

click show options in the drop-down menu of Character panel menu – how to superscript in illustrator

You will see the Character palette expanding on the panel. 

Then, click the Superscript icon to apply the superscript formatting and create a reduced-size text. You can find it between the underline button and the button for small-cap characters.

select superscript button in Character panel Adobe Illustrator - how to superscript in illustrator

You will see that this method with the superscript button has a predefined baseline shift value and its font size in the Character panel remains the same though it looks smaller than the rest.

letter x squared with 2 as superscript in adobe illustrator

You can also change the text style of the superscript, or the whole text object with the subscript characters. Go to the font menu to select regular fonts or any type of font from the font family section.

Method 2: Create Superscript Manually

Alternatively, you can adjust the baseline shift and font size manually to create the superscript effect. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Highlight Text

First, select the text you want to turn into a superscript by highlighting it.

highlight text to superscript in Illustrator
Click and drag to highlight text with the Type tool

Step 2: Reduce Font Size

Open the Character panel and reduce the font size by clicking the downward arrow in the Set the font size field. The size is up to you because it’s relative to the font size of the other text.

reduce font size of text to create superscript manually in Illustrator

Just don’t make it too tiny as it will be hard to see.

In my example, I can afford to reduce the font size of the text by half.

Step 3: Increase Baseline Shift

Next, still, in the Character panel, go to the part where it says Set the baseline shift. Click on the upward pointing arrow a few times and you will see your superscript text moving upwards.

set baseline shift higher for text to move up and become superscript in adobe illustrator

Stop clicking on the arrow when the text is in a position where the reader can differentiate it as a superscript among the other characters.

Your selected text is now formatted as a superscript.

In the Character panel, you can also explore and adjust additional typography settings such as font-weight, kerning, tracking, leading, and baseline shift. Experiment with these options to achieve the desired text appearance in your design.

Final Thoughts on How to Superscript in Illustrator

Using superscript formatting can greatly enhance the readability and professionalism of your projects, especially when dealing with mathematical or scientific notation.

Don’t hesitate to explore other formatting options in the Character and Paragraph panels of Illustrator, as they can help you achieve a more polished design.

Which way works for you? Tell us in the comments below:

Before You Go…

Need more tips on superscripts? Learning to add superscripts in Illustrator is essential, but it’s just one of the basic steps. You can only do so much with your time if you don’t grasp the productivity techniques of editing text. Read my next article to learn the best ways to deal with your text…

How To Edit Text In Adobe Illustrator

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