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Exponents and typing have always had an interesting relationship.  In this short guest post, computer-savvy minstrel Jera Wolfe (not his legal name) writes a quick explanation on how to type those out on a PC.


To use standard keyboard characters to express an exponential, you use the character “^” between the base and the exponent.

For example (The Hardy Weinburg Equation):

p² + 2pq + q² = 1

could be easier written:

p^2 + 2pq + q^2 = 1

Also, by holding down the ALT key, and typing out 0178 and then releasing the alt key after you finish hitting the keys it will produce a “²”. Use 0179 to create a ³. Any other values it’s best to use the method described above.

Note: You can only use the numkey pad to generate ascii numbers using ALT codes.
Special Note: Remember, depress the ALT key and keep it held, then type out each key individually, don’t try to hold them all down like ctrl+alt+delete. It’s hold ALT, and type 0 then 1 then 7 then 8 then release the alt key.


Jera Wolfe is a hardcore techie user who remembers BBS-like systems such as FIDOnet that predate the declassification of ArpaNet. His first introduction to the computers was the old TI-99/4A, a system which his grandfather taught him how to hook up and play.
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