**Short question**:

Is there some font encoding or other trick that would allow the unicode character `²`

(exponent 2) to be correctly interpreted by LaTeX, notably in math mode (i.e. translate it automatically into `^{2}`

)?

(and likewise for ³, ⁴, …)

**Detailed rationale**:

Normally, to introduce an exponent in math mode one uses the ^ symbol, as in `x^2`

or `e^{i\pi}`

. I've been using LaTeX for decades and this feels very natural. However, with my current setup, when I type the characters `x`

`^`

`2`

on the keyboard, it results in the two unicode characters `x²`

.

I do have a `\RequirePackage[utf8]{inputenc}`

around the beginning of my personal style file, and Unicode characters in general are interpreted correctly (accented characters and such).

Usually I think about it and do type `x`

`^`

`^`

`2`

which results in `x^2`

, but often I'm typing fast and later have to go back to every line of code that produces a `LaTeX Error: Command \texttwosuperior unavailable in en`

error. This is annoying.

I could implement a workaround at the level of my editor (I use vim, so it would be simple to add a mapping to convert the ² into ^2), but I'm wondering if there's a better editor-independent way to handle this.

## Best Answer

ConTeXt does it right.

The same can be achieved with LaTeX and

`unicode-math`

.In pdfLaTeX you have to use

`newunicodechar`

to redefine`²`

and`³`

to make them math-mode aware.