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Advanced authoring in Microsoft Word – Part 12: Mathematics

Before Microsoft Word 2007, you had to use Microsoft Equation 3.0 that shipped with Word or some third-party formula editor to add formulae to documents; in any case, formulae were included as OLE objects because there was no native math support in Word.

However, Microsoft Word 2007 and later include an integrated formula editor, so that math can be edited as directly as ordinary text (formulae are no longer OLE objects). In addition, the new formula editor is vastly superior to the old Microsoft Equation 3.0 editor. In fact, it is completely brilliant when it works.

The new editor allows very convenient and rapid formula input using only the keyboard. It is very easy to include even rather advanced content (again, using only the keyboard) using a LaTeX-like notation with some additional shortcuts. Also, the WYSIWYG nature of Microsoft Word makes it much easier to navigate and maintain formulae in Word compared to plain LaTeX.

Here are some hints to get you started:

As examplified above, Word automatically replaces tokens (such as \int) when you press Space or some suitable operator or punctuation mark, and automatically formats structures like fractions, superscripts, large operators and brackets when you press Space or enter some suitable operator or punctuation mark. In the sequel, I will not explicitly point out the need to trigger these actions. For example, I will write ‘enter a^b’ instead of ‘enter a^b followed by a space, a binary operator, or some suitable punctuation’.

Finally, do not forget the context (right-click) menu. This is highly context sensitive, and has a lot of convenient commands (set degree of root, remove accent, add lower/upper limit, remove limit, remove exponent, add argument, remove brackets, etc.). If you have a Menu key on your keyboard, this will come in very handy (you should also learn the letter that activates each menu item). If you do not have a menu key on your keyboard, consider buying a new keyboard with such a key.


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