I use Microsoft Word (2004, although later version should still work) and I end up writing a lot of equations. Without this tutorial, most people would try and form an equation using spaces, the sub-script functions as well as inserting symbols. The problem with this is that it is slow, cumbersome, as well inaccurate. You will generally face a lot of problems. There is a solution to this problem. Use the Equation Editor, it is simple to use and the results are amazing quite frankly.
There are two methods in opening and running the equation editor. The best method is going to Insert > Object > Microsoft Equation. This will open up the application, it is a mini app although it runs as part of Word. If you want to play around this the equation application but you don’t want to run Word, go to Applications > Microsoft Office > Office > Equation Editor. If you run the app using the second method you won’t be able to save the equation or insert it into Word unless you then open the program. If you don’t have the mini app in either locations, you need to run through your installation disk.
When you open the window, you should end up with something similar to the image below, sans equation.
There is really two main features of the application, the insert bar and the equation editor. The buttons at the top of the application are drop downs for various functions. You can have brackets, integrals, Greek functions and all sorts. After a while of using the application you have to remember to use the keyboard, simply because you spend ages trying to find a symbol. Most letters that you insert will be specially formatted for being and equation and be in a similar style.
The bottom half of the app is the equation editor. It works in a method similar to scientific calculators. For example you insert you symbol, fraction in this case, you will then be presented with two boxes with dashed borders. This dashed borders enable more functions to be added, as special area for you to type in. As a result it is quite hard to end up deleting and moving parts of equations into random places. Its very sturdy in a way.
Some tips I have found while playing with this program. If you find out that you need to put part of an equation in brackets, or in some other function, select the part of the equation you want to change and then click on the symbol in the drop down menus. It will then be moved for you. It makes it easy to quickly build equations.
To insert the equation back into your Word document, go to File > Update. It will then insert your equation into your document. The actual equation is a mix between an image (more vector) and a meta file. For example you can change its properties, such as shape, location on the page etc. You can also export the image. The best way of doing this is to copy the image to the clipboard, open Preview and then paste it into a new Preview window. You can then save it out.
If you want to edit and equation after you have inserted into your Word document. Right click on the equation go to Equation Object > Open. You will be back where you started and you can then edit it as you wish.
This little function of Word is very cool. It is one of the only features that I am actually pleased works (most don’t after a while). You can always gloat to your friends and family and show them your cool equations while they struggle trying to line everything up normally. An update to the program as recommended by Word is to install and buy MathType, it is an add on. Although it does look more feature rich and useful to people it is expensive.
In the mean time I am going to have a play. I’m going to see if I can plot the standard model (for those that don’t know it is a massive quantum physics equation).