Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Single-Character Fractions.

Single-Character Fractions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 1, 2018)

1

You may have noticed that if you type fractions into a Word document, some fractions are automatically changed to a single-character fraction, and others remain just as you typed them. The reason for this is simple, really: Word has a setting that does the conversion to a single-character fraction, but only for some fractions.

To see where the setting is made, take a look at the AutoFormat As You Type settings. You can pull them up in this manner:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Make sure that Proofing is selected at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button. Word displays the AutoCorrect dialog box.
  4. Make sure the AutoFormat As You Type tab is displayed. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The AutoFormat As You Type tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

  6. Note the Fractions with Fraction Character setting. With this checkbox selected, Word replaces some fractions with a single-character version of the fraction.

Why did I say that Word only replaces some fractions? Because that is all Word can do. Most fonts contain a very limited number of fractions as single characters. Fractions such as 1/2, 1/4, and 3/4 all have a single-character equivalent in most fonts, so it is "safe" for Word to do the automatic conversion. Other fonts may include some other single-character representation of common fractions. For instance, Times New Roman has characters for 1/3, 2/3, 1/8, 3/8, 5/8, and 7/8. Since these single-character fractions aren't in all fonts, however, Word won't do the conversion automatically.

The upshot of all this is that single-character versions of fractions are dependent on the font you are using. Further, automatic translation of a limited number of fractions to their single-character counterparts is controlled in Word by an AutoFormat As You Type setting. If you know that the font you are using has additional single-character fractions, then you can create an AutoCorrect entry to do the conversion for you. (How to use AutoCorrect has been discussed in other issues of WordTips.)

Understanding that the display of fractions is primarily dependent on the font being used, some people choose to not rely on single-character versions of fractions. Instead, they turn off the AutoFormat As You Type setting for fractions and instead format three-character fractions all the time. They either leave the fraction numerator and denominator as regular type, or they superscript the numerator and subscript the denominator. By adjusting spacing between the characters, you can achieve a decent-looking fraction. You can then copy the formatted text to an AutoCorrect entry for future use.

If you don't mind making macros, you can create some handy ones that will do the formatting of fractions for you. The following VBA macro will format any fraction; all you need to do is select the characters that make up the fraction and then run the macro.

Sub MakeFraction()
    Dim fractionbit As Range
    Dim iSlashPlace As Integer
    With Selection
        iSlashPlace = InStr(.Text, "/")
        Set fractionbit = ActiveDocument.Range _
          (Start:=.Start, End:=.Start + iSlashPlace - 1)
        fractionbit.Font.Superscript = True
        Set fractionbit = ActiveDocument.Range _
          (Start:=.Start + iSlashPlace, End:=.End)
        fractionbit.Font.Subscript = True
    End With
End Sub

The macro formats the portion of the selection before the slash as superscript, and the portion after as subscript.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9565) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Single-Character Fractions.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Copying a File in VBA

Need to have your macro copy a file from one place to another? It's easy to do using the FileCopy command, described in ...

Discover More

Adjusting Spacing After a Paragraph

There is no need to press Enter a second time at the end of each paragraph. Let Word take care of the spacing ...

Discover More

ExcelTips: Times and Dates

Excel is great at storing all types of data, including times and dates. ExcelTips: Times and Dates provides the ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Different Layout for a Portion of a Page

Got a document layout that requires a portion of the page to be in one layout and another portion to be in a different ...

Discover More

Putting a Bullet in the Middle of a Sentence

Need a special character (such as a bullet) in the middle of your text? Here are two quick ways to enter the character ...

Discover More

Automatic Non-breaking Spaces in Dates

It drives some people crazy to have a date break across two lines. If you find yourself in this mindset, then you'll ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is three more than 5?

2015-05-29 16:05:25

Sara

How do I make it create the one-character form on Word? I'm trying to type a recipe with 1/8 tsp but it will not shrink to one character like the rest. Subscript and superscript does not look the same. (Using Microsoft Word 2013)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.