For users who add or edit equations in their Word docs, the new equation editor in Word for Mac 2011 is a welcome new feature that makes equation editing cross-platform with Word for Windows.
I’ve been editing equations on the Mac for many years (after all, in a previous life, I was the leader of Apple’s Scientific Computing Project) and have experience using most of the equation editors and interpreters available to Mac users. What I’ve found is that there is no disputing the tremendous increase in comprehension by the readers of your documents when an equation changes from an easy-to-type, but hard-to-understand linear form like this:
to an equation rendered in the standard way that mathematicians and scientists use in both school and professional life. Here is that same equation from above, but shown in standard form:
As excellent as the standard equation format is to read, it can be slow and painstaking to create from scratch. After all, an equation like the one above is a rich, two-dimensional structure with a wide character set, well outside the characters available on a standard keyboard. Of course, creating this structure takes both time and forethought.
It is often much easier to edit an equation that has a similar structure to the one you want, than it is to create this rich structure yourself. For this reason, the equation editing feature in Word 2011 provides an menu that lists several commonly used equations you can easily add and edit within your document:
In addition, you can easily add your own equations to this menu. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest is to right click on an equation that you want to add to the Equations menu, and choose “Save as New Equation”:
Then give the new equation a name and assign it to a category:
And you’re done!
As an example, here is my custom Equations menu on my iMac at work:
This customizable menu makes it even easier for you to quickly add the exact equation you need into your document. It only takes a moment and will save you tons of time. And that wraps this week’s tip on equation editing – let us know how it goes!
Not a big equation user? What other tips can we offer to help you get your work done faster so you can get back to enjoying life?
-Kurt Schmucker, Office for Mac Evangelist