This is the official manual for the latest Org-mode release.

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11.7 Subscripts and superscripts

^’ and ‘_’ are used to indicate super- and subscripts. To increase the readability of ASCII text, it is not necessary—but OK—to surround multi-character sub- and superscripts with curly braces. Those are, however, mandatory, when more than one word is involved. For example

     The radius of the sun is R_sun = 6.96 x 10^8 m.  On the other hand, the
     radius of Alpha Centauri is R_{Alpha Centauri} = 1.28 x R_{sun}.

If you write a text where the underscore is often used in a different context, Org's convention to always interpret these as subscripts can get in your way. Configure the variable org-use-sub-superscripts to change this convention. For example, when setting this variable to {}, ‘a_b’ will not be interpreted as a subscript, but ‘a_{b}’ will.

C-c C-x \
In addition to showing entities as UTF-8 characters, this command will also format sub- and superscripts in a WYSIWYM way.