Creating Special, Compound Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 19, 2020)

Royall wants to print a circumflex over a lower-case sigma, a bar over an x and an X, and a superscript directly over a subscript. He wonders if there is an easy way to do these sorts of characters in Word.

The traditional way of creating compound characters in Word is to use the EQ field. There are several ways that the field can be used; here is just one method for placing a superscript directly over a subscript:

{ EQ \s\up2(x)\s\do2(y) }

In this case x is the superscript and y is the subscript. You must also remember to create the field braces by pressing Ctrl+F9. The EQ field provides ways you can also create the other compound characters you want. The following page at Suzanne Barnhill's site provides a good general overview:

http://wordfaqs.ssbarnhill.com/CombineCharacters.htm

Using the EQ field may not be the easiest way to create these specific characters, however. You may want to explore using the Equation Editor to create them and then store them as building blocks. To use the Equation Editor, display the Insert tab of the ribbon and then click the Equation Editor tool in the Symbols group. Word helpfully displays the Equation Tools tab on the ribbon. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Equation Tools tab of the ribbon.

Using the various tools available, you can easily add special symbols (such as the sigma) and position things relative to other characters (such as bars, circumflexes, superscripts, and subscripts). Once you've created an equation to your satisfaction, click the down-arrow that appears to the right of it in Word. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Using the down-arrow next to an equation.

From the resulting Context Menu, choose Save As New Equation. Word displays the Create New Building Block dialog box. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. The Create New Building Block dialog box.

Just provide a short name for the equation and save it. Now, whenever you need to insert that particular compound character, as an equation, you just type the name and then press F3. The name is replaced by the saved equation.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10904) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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

Creating a Table of Authorities

In legal documents a table of authorities is a common element. Creating the table is easy to do if you apply the ...

Discover More

Using Text Boundaries

Text boundaries can help you better visualize where text can appear in your document. The feature is easy to turn on and ...

Discover More

Dealing with Long Formulas

If your worksheet formulas seem to go on forever, here's a handy way to make them more understandable. (All you need to ...

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)

Adding Half Spaces to Punctuation

Want a little more space just before some of your punctuation characters? You can add that spacing in a variety of ways, ...

Discover More

Added Spaces when Dragging and Dropping Paragraphs

When using Word's editing tools, you may notice some extraneous spaces left where you don't want them. This tip addresses ...

Discover More

Checking for Matching Parentheses

There are lots of little "gotchas" that can make the difference between a finished document and a polished document. One ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 1 + 3?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.

Videos
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.