Word Equations

 Sep 03, 2015

Microsoft Word is not only a great tool for everyday business documents like reports, memos and minutes, it can also be used to produce much more specialised documentation including academic, mathematical or scientific papers that require more advanced equations.

Entering an equation in word can be easily done by clicking on the Insert tab and then clicking Equation.

word equations

The desired equation type can be selected and then edited or customised to requirements.

word equations

The only downside is that after a while editing the formulas can become very slow and tedious. Fortunately there is a rich selection of short cuts to make formula creation very quick and easy.

The quick way to enter the equation editor is to hold down the Alt key and press =, this will create an empty equation:

word equations

Now to complete the equation editor you can use a selection of keywords to create the appropriate symbols rather than the more cumbersome ribbon options. The key is to prefix each key word with a \.

Keywords such as \sqrt and \overbrace will modify the whole expression (provided that they are correctly grouped).

Inserting Symbols

Below is a table of keywords that can be used to quickly insert frequently used symbols. Note: keywords are case-sensitive. (To use symbols that do not appear on the list you can always go to the Insert tab and click Symbol.)

word equations

In the equation editor spaces cannot be entered using the space bar so instead you can use:

\hairsp – for a small space e.g. xx

\thinsp – for a wider space e.g. x x

Grouping and Stacking

To show division use the “/” key. Brackets will also be displayed as typed unless they are used for grouping in which case they will not show, to force brackets to display simply type double brackets.

word equations

Superscripts and Subscripts

The _ and ^ keys are used to insert superscripts and subscripts. Here are some simple examples:

word equations


We also have keywords for defining square roots and higher order roots:

word equations

Integrals, Products and Sums

Sums, Integrals and products are inserted with the keywords \sum, \int and \prod. Subscripts and superscripts can be used to insert the limits, for example:

word equations

(Note:indicates use of spacebar)

So using Word you now know how create complex formulae really quickly, happy formulating.

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About the Author:

Nicky Bull  

Nicky started her professional life over 19 years ago in the IT industry. Through the initial years of her career, she worked in the areas of software development & project management for some of the leading organisations in South Africa and U.K. Over the past 6 years, Nicky has been working as a Desktop Applications trainer, delivering courses to both corporate as well as government organisations across the entire Microsoft Office suite. Her approach to training delivery is very pragmatic and she finds immense fulfilment in her ability to assist other people with their growth and development.

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