How to: Exponents With the Alt Key

By Sylvia Cini

Unicodes are a unique series of numbers that identify the characters, numbers and symbols of a font. Using a unicode, you can insert special characters, or those not located on your keyboard. This feature is useful if you have a full number pad on your keyboard or you work with exponents frequently. However, only the exponents "2" and "3" may be inserted using this method. Keep in mind that the "Alt" key will not enable unicodes in all programs--e.g., in MS Calculator, the keyboard shortcut for entering an exponent is "E."

Word and Excel

Step 1

Click in the the body of the document. Type the base number of your exponent. If you are typing 5 to the power of 3, the base is "5."

Step 2

Place the cursor to the right of the base where the exponent should be inserted. Hold "Alt" and simultaneously enter the unicode for the exponent. For example, "Alt" + 0179 = 3; "Alt" + 0178 = 2.

Step 3

Release "Alt" to reveal the inserted exponent.

Tips & Warnings

  • Unicodes work with other characters as well. To get the unicodes for other characters, open the "Start" menu and search for "Character Map." Select the font you are using from the drop-down menu at the top of the page and then look up a symbol. The unicode will be displayed at the bottom of the window.