HTML -- superscripts, subscripts

Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 16:00:27 -0700
From: Roy Tennant <> To: Multiple recipients of list <> Subject: Re: Another Html question
X-Listprocessor-Version: 6.0c -- ListProcessor by Anastasios Kotsikonas X-Comment: Web4Lib Information -

SUP and SUB can both be found in the 3.2 Specification at:

which is also what I told Maxine.

On Fri, 30 May 1997, Marc Davis wrote:

> There are non-standard container tags <SUP></SUP> and <SUB></SUB> that > produce superscripts and subscripts. I don't know much about <SUP>, but > <SUB> was implemented by Netscape in 2.0 and higher and was included in IE > 3.0. I believe that it is proposed for a future HTML standard. >

BTW, special thanks to Craig Booher for pointing out that I could also use the ISO character set coding for superscripts 1, 2 and 3 (namely, &#185; &#178; and &#179, respectively).

Now, the question is: other than for situations involving numbers higher than 3, when would one use character set coding vs html coding? I have learned that the character set coding apparently doesn't work too well in Mac browsers, but I also don't know how well the <sup></sup> does in comparison.

The Mac's native character set does not comply with the ISO Latin 1 set; Mac browsers are theoretically obligated to remap numeric entities to the correct character in the Mac set, but often don't. (The only browser I can get to run on our Mac is MSIE, for some odd reason, and it remaps characters to the Windows character set.) If you have a large percentage of Mac browsers hitting your site and are willing to support broken browser behavior, this might discourage you from using numeric entities that are known to display incorrectly.

Personally, I would also go with the <SUP>...</SUP> (or <SUP><SMALL>...</SMALL></SUP>) construction, but would do so because I find it easier to edit, it isn't limited to a small number of superscript characters, and gives actual 1's, 2's, and 3's to search engines and browser Find commands.

Thomas Dowling
Ohio Library and Information Network

Last modified Tue Nov 2 13:27:32 PST 1999