Unicode subscripts and superscripts

Unicode subscripts and superscripts

Unicode has subscripted and superscripted versions of a number of characters including a full set of arabic numerals. These characters allow any polynomial equation and some other equations to be represented in plain text without using any form of markup like HTML or TEX. With the exception of using "²" and "³" for squared and cubed units it is considered inadvisable to use these characters when other methods of superscript and subscript are available.

Note as well that most fonts that include these characters use them for mathematical numerator and denominator glyphs, which are smaller than normal characters but are aligned with the cap line and the baseline, respectively. When used with the solidus, these glyphs are useful for making arbitrary diagonal fractions (similar to the ½ glyph), but are not substitutes for proper mathematical sub- or superscripts.

The most common superscript digits were in ISO-8859-1 at positions B9HEX, B2HEX and B3HEX for digits 1, 2, and 3 respectively and have therefore been carried over into those positions in the Latin-1 range of Unicode. The rest were placed in a dedicated section of Unicode at U+2070 to U+209F. The two tables below show the characters in this range. Each superscript or subscript character is preceded by a normal "x" to show the subscripting/superscripting. The table on the left contains the actual Unicode characters (which may not render correctly in your browser); the one on the right contains the equivalents using HTML markup for the subscript/superscript.

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+207x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
U+208x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
U+209x x x x x x
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+207x x0 xi x4 x5 x6 x7 x8 x9 x+ x x= x( x) xn
U+208x x0 x1 x2 x3 x4 x5 x6 x7 x8 x9 x+ x x= x( x)
U+209x xa xe xo xx xə


* [http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U2070.pdf "Superscripts and Subscripts"] (PDF file)

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