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Some wiki engines offer markup for superscript and subscript text.

Proposed markups#


Superscripted text

Creole: ^^This is superscripted text^^
or <<sup>>This is superscripted text<</sup>>

Proposed XHTML: <sup> </sup>

Comparison: http://www.wikimatrix.org/syntax.php?i=28


Subscripted text

Creole: ~~This is subscripted text~~
or ,,This is subscripted text,, or <<sub>>This is superscripted text<</sub>>

Note: the use of double-tilde may conflict with Escape Character Proposal

Proposed XHTML: <sub> </sub>

Comparison on wikimatrix: http://www.wikimatrix.org/syntax.php?i=29


Use cases#

  • Superscript
    • Basic maths
    • Units of measurement (e.g. square meter - m²)
    • Large numbers, metric scientific notation (e.g. 1,253x10²³)
    • Ordinal numbers (e.g. 1^^st^^, 2^^nd^^, 18^^th^^ century, in French 1^^er^^, 2^^e^^, 18^^e^^ siècle)
    • Possibly for footnotes (shouldn't it be handled by another mechanism than what is considered, in that particular case, as a presentation markup)
    • Many indexed terms in science (like n^^+^^)

  • Subscript
    • Basic maths
    • Basic chemistry
    • Much of biology (gene names, etc.)


than as part of formulas.


  • Simple way to insert superscripted/subscripted text
  • The users don't have to learn a new language.
  • Super- and subscript are basic functions in most word processors
  • Super- and subscript almost always have a semantic value, rather than being a formatting issue.
  • Depending on the software/keyboard layout, it might be very difficult or impossible to insert Unicode superscript or subscript digits.
  • Unicode digits:
    • are limited to... digits! - thus covering only a small subset of use cases
    • The presentation of successive Unicode digits is not always appropriate (see above of this source).
  • MathML etc. is necessary for specialized applications, especially in Math. However:
    • complex formulas were historically expensive, and use in engineering and science therefore limited. Invention of symbols involving the no-cost super and subscript was much more frequent.
    • In practive, MathML etc. is not currently supported, and does not correspond with the frequency of use of super- and subscript in engineering and science.
  • Inline with Cover the common things people need (is it?) - Yes!
  • NotNew, a lot of wiki engines offer markup for superscript and subscript text. HTML offers it.


  • Better alternatives exist
    • Please elaborate which alternatives are available in which Wiki software
  • New markups to learn - NotNew though.
  • Markup characters can be hard to find on several keyboard layouts

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« This particular version was published on 25-Feb-2007 21:15 by