Superscript Ordinals

In many of the manuscripts I edit, the author has used superscript for ordinal numbers, entering 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th (and so on) as 1^st^, 2^nd^, 3^rd^, and 4^th^ (the carets represent superscript here). Why? Because Microsoft Word by default inserts ordinal numbers using superscript–one of its many “helpful” features, which I explain how to turn off here:

But if the superscript ordinals are already in the manuscript, you can’t just turn them off. You have to figure out another way to get rid of that superscript. One way is to find and replace it (Edit > Replace) with “not superscript” (as Word phrases it). That will work fine unless the manuscript has superscript formatting you want to keep, in which case you have to find and replace each superscript item individually. Even that isn’t so bad–unless the manuscript has footnotes or endnotes, in which case you might have to check hundreds of superscript reference numbers during your search. Ugh.

Faced with that very problem in the past few weeks, I figured out a simple way around it:

1. Make a backup copy of your document (always, always, always).

2. Click “Edit > Replace” to display the Replace dialog.

3. In the “Find What” box, enter the following wildcard string:


4. Format the “Find What” box as Superscript. The easy way to do this is to press CTRL + SHIFT + = (on a Macintosh, click the “Format” button, then “Font,” and put a check in the “Superscript” checkbox; you may first need to click the “More” button).

5. Format the “Replace With” box as Not Superscript/Subscript. The easy way to do this is to press CTRL + SHIFT + = two times in a row (on a Macintosh, click the “Format” button, then “Font,” and clear the “Superscript” checkbox).

6. Put a check in the “Use Wildcards” checkbox. (You may need to click the “More” button to make the checkbox available.)

7. Click “Replace All” (or “Find Next” and “Replace” if you want to try a few manually).

That will get rid of all superscript *except* on note reference numbers. The secret, of course, is that [!^02] code, which tells Word not to include note reference numbers in its search. You can learn more about searching with codes and wildcards here:



Code Clarification

Amanda Lucas wrote to ask about using raw codes in Microsoft Word (as discussed in last week’s newsletter) as opposed to the Reveal Codes feature in WordPerfect. Thinking that others might also be wondering about this, I offer the following clarification:

Working with raw codes in Word is a completely different thing than working with Reveal Codes in WordPerfect. You might think of them as equivalents, as in this diagram:

Codes in Microsoft Word <---> WordPerfect Reveal Codes

But they’re not. A better way to think about using codes in Microsoft Word is like this:

Coding systems (XML, XPressTags, TeX tags, Ventura tags, etc.)


Rendering systems (Web browsers, QuarkXPress, TeX, Ventura, etc.)

Quite a few publishers, especially in academic and technical settings, work directly with codes (using basic text editors such as emacs) and then render their files into presentation documents (typeset docs, PDFs, etc.) using a separate program. I was trying to explain that Microsoft Word, too, could be used in that way. WordPerfect’s Reveal Codes feature merely shows the coding underneath the program’s WYSIWYG text. Working with raw codes, on the other hand, is a way to get specific about document levels and structure. It’s not a substitute for Reveal Codes, which Word doesn’t need if used correctly (in other words, if formatting is done with styles rather than applied directly to text).

Overstriking Characters

David M Varner wrote:

“In the course of organizing some recent revisions, some text in one of the documents required a strikethrough. It occurred to me that strikethroughs other than a horizontal line would be handy, slashes perhaps, depending on the situation. My question is this: Is there a way in MS Word to overstrike any character with any other character? This is one thing you can do using a typewriter that you can’t, as far as I know, do on a computer.”

There is a way to overstrike characters. You can condense the spacing between the characters to the point that the characters overlap. Here’s how:

1. Type the two characters, such as “/e”.

2. Select the two characters.

3. Click “Format > Font.”

4. Click the “Character Spacing” tab.

5. In the “Spacing” list, select “Condensed.”

6. In the “By” list, click the arrows until you’ve got the characters the way you want them. You can see a preview at the bottom of the dialog box.

7. Click the “OK” button.

Thanks to Amanda and David for their questions.



The Microsoft Word Legal User’s Guide contains “step-by-step instructions to help legal users accomplish the tasks necessary to build robust legal documents in Microsoft Word 97 or Microsoft Word 2000,” but much of the information here will be useful for other Word users as well:

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