Formatting Equations in MS Word

by Stephen Parshley

March 11, 2001


Hany and colleagues,


Below I offer show-and-tell instructions that incorporate Professor Frank’s tips and a few notes of my own. 


If you have not already loaded Equation Editor into Microsoft Word, you need to do so.  The default Word installation will not install the editor.  However, you can load it quickly and easily from the Office or Word CDs as an installation option for Word.  


Superscript and subscript, e.g.:  52  = 25; log 2 8 = 3


There are at least four options to produce superscript and subscript formatting.  I share each below.


1.  The WIMP way for those who prefer to point and click and have not customized Word.  Select with your mouse:




While this works, it is too much pointing and clicking for routine use with formulas.


2.  The keyboard shortcut way, for touch-typists. 


Tip: via keyboard, press the shift key and cursor arrows, e.g. ß or à.  


Ø      Superscript = Ctrl + =

Ø      Subscript = Ctrl + +  

Ø      Return to normal font = Ctrl + Z


3.  The icon way to copy previous formatting you like. 



4.  The icon way to direct superscript and subscript.  You can add icons for superscript and subscript formatting on your formatting toolbar.  You need to ensure your formatting toolbar is showing in Word.  If note, click View, Toolbars, Formatting to make the formatting toolbar appear.  Then:






Putting Equation Editor® on your Formatting Toolbar


If you are going to be working with formulas routinely, the first thing you want is to be able to start Equation Editor easily.  The quick and easy way to get to the editor is to place its icon on your formatting toolbar.   Assuming you have already installed Equation Editor, here’s how to get the icon onto your formatting toolbar:





NOTE:  The remaining instructions assume you have installed the superscript, subscript, and Equation Editor icons to your formatting toolbar.  If you have installed the icons properly, they will look like the following: 



Using Equation Editor

Example.  Let’s say you want to show summation from 1 to 100 =

How did I create the equation symbol shown above?  Below are step-by-step instructions. 


1.  Click the Equation Editor icon to start the program:     You will see the Equation toolbar appear.


2.  From the Equation Editor toolbar, select the summation template icon:



3.  A set of summation templates appear, as shown below.  Select the template you want.  In this case, I want to enter limits, so I select the appropriate template with limits:


NOTE:  Equation Editor offers many such sets of equation elements, so if you don’t see what you want immediately, explore a bit and you will likely find what you need.


4.  Once you click on your desired equation element, you’ll see an object box appear in your Word document, indicating the Equation Editor object is now ready for editing.  In this case, you’ll see:



5.  To make the generic object precisely what you want, you click on the “fields” inside the object and enter the numbers you wish.  When you have successfully entered numbers, the object will look like this:



WARNING:  Selecting fields within a template can be difficult.  Note also in the example above, I left the result field blank.  If you do not want to use a field, enter nothing and it won’t show up. 


6.  When you are done editing, click outside of the object area.  Your completed equation element will appear, as shown below. 



7.  If you change your mind and want to edit completed equation elements, double click the equation to invoke the Equation Editor for further editing, as shown below: