How to Type Exponents in Excel

Updated February 21, 2017

Exponentiation is a mathematical operation on two numbers. One number, called the base, is the number that is subject to repeated multiplication. A second number, called the exponent, determines how many times the base is multiplied by itself. For example, a base of 4 with an exponent of 3 means that 4 is multiplied by itself 3 times, as in 4 x 4 x 4. An exponent is normally shown as a superscript number to the right of the base, but there is a different way to type exponents in Excel.

Click on the cell where you want to type the exponent.

Type the "=" sign. This sign informs Excel that you are entering a formula.

Type the base number. For example, type "3."

Type the "^" symbol, located on the 6 key on a standard keyboard.

Type the exponent. For example, type "2."

Press the "Enter" key. Excel will evaluate the exponent and return the result. In the above example, the result would be 9.


If you don't want Excel to calculate the result of your exponent, leave off the "=" at the beginning of the formula. For example, if you want to display the exponent 3^2 in a cell, type "3," then "^" and then "2."

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About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.