# Using Word for Equation Editing

Education Advisor
[Mentor Note -- discussion split off from original thread in the Career Guidance forum about Security Clearances]

Interesting. Generally, I find outlook to be pretty awesome. I love that the graphics tools that you see in PowerPoint are also available in outlook. You can create really cool signatures and graphics right in your email.

I am using my gmail account to resolve the issue with accessing a web hosted software. I just pray outlook hasn't been rejecting any other emails. It's weird because they did not even appear in the spam folders. So, not sure where they are going.
Outlook is one piece of software that MS really got right. I much prefer it to Gmail.

But again, in my case, the problem is not with Outlook itself. It's with the (cable TV Internet service provider) mail server I connect to via Outlook. In some instances, "suspected" spam messages will show up in "Junk" (Outlook default) or "Spam" (if you have separate security screening software). That's OK, because at least you do receive them.

The SysAdmin, however, can also set the firewall at the mail server to blacklist messages from particular ranges of addresses that it considers confirmed heavy spammers; these messages don't get forwarded to the end-user clients at all (and hence won't show up as Junk or Spam). Sometimes it sets the ranges too broadly, or just plain goofs, though, and blocks messages from legitimate addresses. A bit of Sherlock Holmes work is then needed to track down what's going on. E.g., if "jsmith@xyz.com" sends email to "crysphys@cablemail.net", and if the mail server at "cablemail.net" blocks messages from "xyz.com", notification of the block is not necessarily sent to either "jsmith" or "crysphys"; they can both be blissfully ignorant of what's going on. "jsmith" thinks everything is OK, because he does not receive any "message not delivered" notice; and "crysphys" is ticked-off because "jsmith" hasn't replied. In my instances, the SysAdmin at "xyz.com" received the "message blocked" notices. But it doesn't pay attention to them, unless someone suspects there's a screw-up and asks for diagnostics. Note that "crysphys" could have been receiving messages from "jsmith" for over a decade; and then one day doesn't, simply because the SysAdmin at the "cablemail.net" mail server edited the firewall settings.

Don't know whether this is your problem, though. But something to consider.

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Zap

## Answers and Replies

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Zap
Another shout to MS Office. Word, PowerPoint and Outlook are pretty awesome. I prefer Word over things like LaTeX. From my experience, people complaining about Word or PowerPoint aren't aware of their capabilities. I find Word has more versatility when writing equations and page formatting. It's also more user friendly. I'm an Excel hater, because it's usually a pain to use. I'll admit the UI is very pretty, but it comes at a cost. Just a quick shout out to the MS Office gang.

berkeman
Mentor
I prefer Word over things like LaTeX.
Is there some View that I can turn on so I can see the breaks in my equations in Word? When I use the standard View and try to edit/add to my equations, all of the breaks seem messed up. I try to backspace into some part of my equation to do something that seems intuitive to me, and the whole formatting gets messed up.

Zap
I'm not sure what you mean by a break in an equation. You could have accidentally mixed equation with regular text within the same textbox, which screws with the formatting.

berkeman
Mentor
I'm not sure what you mean by a break in an equation.
I mean formatting boundaries. For example, I may type an equation like this in Word:

$$f(t) = \frac{\frac{cos\theta}{sin\theta}}{tan\theta}\frac{e^x}{ln(x)}$$

And then realize that I want to change the fraction formatting because it didn't come out right. But when I try clicking into the equation and use backspaces or whatever to try to fix the formatting, it gets all messed up and I can't seem to click in the right places to be able to make the changes I want.

Like in Word there is a View called "Outlining" where you can see the special characters like carraige returns, tabs, and other hidden formatting characters. It is useful when trying to fix an error with Headline levels or Numbering, for example. I was just wondering if there were something similar for Word equations.

Zap
No idea tbh lol. You should be able to double click and delete/edit whatever part of the formula you want. Each piece of the formula is inside a little cell, and sometimes the cells can become nested in ways you may not have intended. I usually use the equation tab and insert the type of symbol I want using the mouse rather than the keyboard. May be a little slower, but prevents potential errors in formatting.

I'm still not totally understanding the problem. MS Office is kind of like Tableau or something like that, you can just click around sometimes and discover some weird obscure feature that may or may not solve your problem.

Joshy
Gold Member
I think you'll be interested in this ;)

The little triangle on the right side you can switch it between Linear and Professional

berkeman
Zap
You can actually write the formulas down with a stylus pen and Word will somehow convert it into the equation text.

You are saying that when you convert it to linear that it doesn't come out right?

Mark44
Mentor
I think you'll be interested in this ;)

The little triangle on the right side you can switch it between Linear and Professional

View attachment 269424

View attachment 269423
The equation capabilities in Word are comparable to LaTeX, at least insofar as what I need. At the college where I've been teaching for the past three years, I've taught one 3rd quarter calculus class, a couple of intro C++ classes, and six classes on computer architecture. I write the exams using Word, and use the equation features for integrals (in the calculus class), as well as fractions, exponents, and the like in the other classes. The Word Equation feature shares some similarities with the way that LaTeX expressions are formatted, so it's not difficult to get up to speed with the Word Equation features.
Also, once you've written the "equation," you can edit it to make changes in font size, justification, corrections, etc.

berkeman
I prefer Word over things like LaTeX.
I found this to be somewhat amazing. Would you spell out why, please?

I am a convinced LaTeX user, but I've recently completed the draft of a technical paper with another fellow. He typed the paper in Word, and it was an absolute nightmare to read.

One specific example where Word seems to fail is the use of subscripts and superscripst under a radial. This is a piece of cake in LaTeX, but my co-author told me there was no way he could properly display those things (we wound up using a lot of 1/2 powers on expressions in parentheses).

berkeman
Zap
I found this to be somewhat amazing. Would you spell out why, please?

I am a convinced LaTeX user, but I've recently completed the draft of a technical paper with another fellow. He typed the paper in Word, and it was an absolute nightmare to read.

One specific example where Word seems to fail is the use of subscripts and superscripst under a radial. This is a piece of cake in LaTeX, but my co-author told me there was no way he could properly display those things (we wound up using a lot of 1/2 powers on expressions in parentheses).
I'm not sure what you mean by a radial, but you can certainly add subscripts and superscripts to anything you want in Word. The reason why I like Word better than LaTeX is because I've never encountered anything that I could do in LaTeX that I could not do more easily in Word. I only messed around with LaTeX for about a week. I wrote up some homework assignments with it that included equations and tables, but didn't see the benefit of creating those things in LaTeX. Since then, I've never had to use anything other than Word to do what I want. I think it would be hard to find something that actually cannot be done in Word, that is related to typing.

I think you are referring to the radical sign. There's a symbol for that you can click on after inserting an equation. If I'm not mistaken, I think Word used to be very limited in its ability to write equations, but as it is right now, I don't have any problems with it.

The only thing that I'm pretty confident you really cannot do in Word is to change the font of the equation text. There is only one font you can choose, which is Cambria Math. You may be able to download or create custom equation fonts, like you can do with regular fonts, but I'm not sure.

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I'm not sure what you mean by a radial, but you can certainly add subscripts and superscripts to anything you want in Word.
Looks like I mistyped that one. I meant to say radical, as in root sign. My co-author, who is a long-time Word user assured me that Word would not allow him to type expressions under a radical that involved both subscripts and superscripts. I really have no first hand knowledge of such. My only experience with Word was when I was an employee of the US Navy where it was required for reports (where I carefully avoided including any mathematics).

My use of LaTeX is via a "front end program" called Scientific WorkPlace from Mackichan Software. It takes all the hassle out of using LaTeX while giving you all the benefits. With SWP, you focus on getting your thoughts down in the right order, etc. with no concern at all about formatting. The formatting comes in choosing a Style file (or you can write your own, if you know how). You can dump the whole contents from one style into another to see how it looks with a different format. It also offers built-in calculation via MuPad which can be quite useful (both numeric and symbolic operations). I've been using SWP for about 35 years now, and I'm completely sold on it.

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My co-author, who is a long-time Word user assured me that Word would not allow him to type expressions under a radical that involved both subscripts and superscripts.
I just did it.

Fundamentally, the philosophy is different. Word is "What you see is what you get". LaTeX is "You asked for it. you got it."

Mark44
Mentor
Looks like I mistyped that one. I meant to say radical, as in root sign. My co-author, who is a long-time Word user assured me that Word would not allow him to type expressions under a radical that involved both subscripts and superscripts.
As @Zap pointed out, this is easy to do in Word, and the way it's done is very similar to LaTeX -- that is, for subscripts you use _n, or _{nn} with braces in case the subscript is two or more characters. For exponents, you use ^n or ^{nn} when the exponent is two or more characters.

Your co-author may be a long-time Word user, but he's evidently not familiar with the Equation editior, which I believe is relatively new (i.e. within the past 5 to 8 years). If an "equation" isn't coming out correctly, the easiest way to fix it is to go into Linear mode, as shown in the screen shots that @Joshy provided. There you can make sure that the braces are in the right places.

I use both LaTeX here at PF a lot, and the Word Equation Editor for test that I write for my classes. My use of both is pretty much limited to integrals, fractions, exponents, subscripts, and radicals, and I find both tools fairly easy to use.

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FactChecker
Science Advisor
Gold Member
You may be able to download or create custom equation fonts, like you can do with regular fonts, but I'm not sure.
Be careful with this. If you download a custom font and then send the Word document to someone whose computer does not have that font, the results can be spectacular. (I have horror stories.)

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Zap
Looks like I mistyped that one. I meant to say radical, as in root sign. My co-author, who is a long-time Word user assured me that Word would not allow him to type expressions under a radical that involved both subscripts and superscripts.
There is a symbol that looks like
$$\sqrt{☐}$$
and another that looks like
$$☐^{ ☐ }_{ ☐ }$$
that you can just click on.
You can nest the second symbol inside of the first to achieve the result you want.

I had heard a lot of good reviews on LaTeX from my classmates, but when I went ahead and tried using it, I didn't experience what everyone else was talking about. I guess it's a matter of personal taste. Not sure.