Word: Change subscripted numerals to normal and surround with square brackets

July 22, 2015

On another blog post (https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/word-replace-text-containing-superscript-and-subscript-characters/), Bill asked:

All of my subscripts are consecutive numbers. I need to change all of them to normal size and with brackets around each consecutive number. Any ideas how I can do this for a large document?

You can do this using wildcards in the find and replace window, BUT I couldn’t find an easy way to get numbers greater than one numeral, so you may have to run two (for tens) or three (for hundreds) instances to get them all. Despite the apparent length of the steps below, it shouldn’t take very long — a few minutes at most.

(For others reading this, yes, I tried ([0-9]@) but for some reason it didn’t work — when the replace occurred, it replaced each number individually and surrounded each numeral with its own set of square brackets, which is not what was wanted. Update Aug 2015: I’ve found a simpler solution! And as a result have deleted all the complex steps I originally documented in this post.)

As the consecutive numbering that Bill talked about is irrelevant to my solution, I’ll ignore it.

Because you are potentially making global changes to your document, I strongly suggest you work on a copy of it, not the original, until you are satisfied that it works as you expect it to.

Find and replace one or more subscripted numbers

  1. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box on the Replace tab.
  2. Make sure your cursor is in the Find what field.
  3. Click More.
  4. Select the Use wildcards check box.
  5. Click Format.
  6. Click Font.
  7. Select the Subscript check box until it becomes a check mark.
  8. Click OK to close the Font dialog box. You should have Use wildcards and Subscript listed below the Find What field.
  9. In the Find What field, type: ([0-9]{1,}) (NO spaces).
  10. In the Replace With field, type [\1] (you’re putting square brackets around what you’re replacing, and you’re replacing the found element with itself [that’s the \1 bit]).
  11. While your cursor is still in the Replace With field, click Format again.
  12. Click Font.
  13. Select the Subscript check box until it becomes blank, then click OK.
  14. Click Find Next to find the first subscripted numeral.
  15. Assuming the number is found correctly and it’s what you want to change, click Replace.
  16. Repeat steps 14 and 15 for all the other 4-digit numerals.

Warning: You could do Replace All but you have to be ABSOLUTELY certain you aren’t replacing something you shouldn’t. Replace All is very powerful and makes global changes… You have been warned!

Your Find and Replace dialog box should look like this:



  1. Hi,
    Would this be a solution ?

  2. ()
    hm! for some reason what I entered does not show correctly on your page:
    smaller than sign, bracket 0-9 bracket, @at sign, bigger than sign

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