How to Write Fractions in Google Docs

There are a few ways you can write fractions in a Google Docs document, but the easiest way is to use special characters. Here’s how.

If you’re writing a document, you can change the font, the color, the size, and the spacing, but you don’t need to worry about how the text itself is presented. You type, and the words appear, just like you’d see in a book or on a printed page.

The same isn’t true in Google Docs for certain types of characters, especially those that are mathematical. For example, if you want to write fractions in Google Docs, you’d need to change how the fractions are displayed to make them appear correctly.

If you want to write fractions in Google Docs, here’s what you’ll need to do.

How to Add Fractions in Google Docs Manually

If you’re not worried about formatting, you can use a forward slash (/) to symbolize a fractional value in your text. For example, you could write 1/2. This isn’t perfect formatting but, for most people, it gets the job done.

An example of fractions in Google Docs

If you want to take it a step further, you could use special characters. There are a number of fractional values available as special characters in Google Docs that you can insert into your documents.

To add a fraction using special characters in Google Docs:

  1. Open your Google Docs document.
  2. Move your blinking cursor to where you want to insert the fraction.
  3. On the menu bar, press Insert Special characters.
    Inserting special characters in Google Docs
  4. Scroll through the special characters manually or type fraction into the search bar.
  5. Once you’ve located a fraction character, press it to insert it into your document.
    Inserting special characters into Google Docs

If Google Docs doesn’t have the fraction character you want, search Google for fraction alt codes to find it. Once you do, copy the character and paste it into your document manually.

How to Add Fractions in Google Docs Automatically

If you want to speed up the process, you can configure Google Docs to change your manual fractions into special characters automatically. This method uses text substitutions to convert any pseudo fractions you type (eg. 1/2) into the equivalent special character.

Google Docs is set up to convert some common fractions like these already. If you want to add other fractions, however, you’ll need to add them to your substitutions list.

To write fractions in Google Docs using this method:

  1. Open a new Google Docs document.
  2. Press Insert > Special Characters and locate the equivalent special characters that match the fractions you want to convert.
    Inserting special characters in Google Docs
  3. If you can’t find them, type fraction into the search bar.
  4. Press the fraction icons to paste them into your new document.
    Inserting special characters into Google Docs
  5. Select a fraction and press Ctrl + C to copy it to your clipboard.
  6. Next, press Tools Preferences.
    Opening the Google Docs preferences menu
  7. In Preferences, press the Substitutions tab.
  8. Make sure that the Automatic substitutions checkbox is enabled.
  9. In the Replace column, type a pseudo fraction you’d type yourself (eg. 1/2).
  10. In the With column, paste the special character that matches the fraction (eg. ½).
  11. Press OK to save.
    Adding a fraction as an automatic substitution in Google Docs
  12. When you want to use this feature, type the fraction manually (eg. 1/2) and press space. Google Docs will automatically convert the text you’ve inserted into the matching special character for you.

You’ll need to repeat these steps for each fraction you wish to add. To make this easier, you might want to open a second Google Docs document as a separate tab in your browser (or open the same document again).

This will allow you to quickly move back and forth to copy each new fraction icon to your clipboard. You can then paste them in quick succession into the Preferences menu before you save your changes.

Using Custom Formatting in Google Docs

The steps above should help you to write fractions in Google Docs, but there are other ways you can customize your document formatting. For example, you may want to add your own fonts to your document. You can also use block quotes to add extra emphasis to different sections of text.

Working off-grid? You can always work in Google Docs offline if you’re set up to do it. You’ll just need to connect to the internet at some point to sync your changes to the online version of the document.

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