General Educational Technology start page

E-Comunication in the Classroom:
Classroom Uses
Video Conferencing

E-Comunication for the Teacher:
Distribution Lists
E-communication Options
Comparison Chart

Databases in the Classroom
Equation Editor

Elsewhere on this site:
General Instructional Technology,


Return to Jeffrey L. Jones home page General Educational Technology

Microsoft Equation Editor for Word XP

Note: For clearer images and printability, use this Word document.

I.          Installing


            You may need to install Equation Editor before use. To see if it is available, in Word, go to “Insert/Object…” and see if it’s in the list of objects you can insert. If not - you will need sufficient rights to your computer to do Office updates, and will need access to the Office CD if Office was originally installed that way. If unsure, contact your school technology coordinator.


To install it yourself, go to “Start/Settings/Control Panel,” and open “Add/Remove Programs.”








Click on “Microsoft Office…” and click on “Change.” In the next window, make sure the “Add or remove features…” bullet is selected, and click “Next.”





You will need to expand “Office Tools” by clicking on the “+” sign. Right-click on “Equation Editor” (it should be first on the list) and select “Run from my computer.” Click the “Update” button at the bottom, and Equation Editor will install.

II.        Inserting an equation.

            Go to “Insert/Object,” and select “Microsoft Equation 3.0” (or whatever version you have). You may receive a prompt on “Math Type,” an “upgrade” of Equation – it, of course, is not free! After clicking on the “OK” button, your Word document will have a box on it, and a toolbar will appear.


III.       Creating your equation.


            The toolbar has a huge number of formatting symbols and options available. If you place your pointer over any object on the toolbar, it will tell you what it does. Clicking on any object and you’ll receive a variety of choices. Drag your mouse down and click on the object you want, and it appears in the box with dotted lines around the places where you’ll need to type things in (for instance, the fraction on the left). Simply click in each and type in what you want. If you click anywhere on the Word document outside your Equation object, it will appear without the box.


IV.       Formatting your equation as a graphic object


            Besides being an Equation Editor object, your object is a graphic, just like a picture. What you can do, where, depends on what mode you’re in. Here’s a chart…







To get there

To leave there

Finished Text

No box

Click away from your equation

Choose another option


Fuzzy box

Double-click on your equation

Click elsewhere on your document


Line box, or other graphic indicator

Click on object

Click elsewhere on your document



            As a graphic, you can select how your equation will flow with the other objects and text on your document. In Graphics mode, right-click and select “Show Picture Toolbar.” On that menu, you can decide that your equation will be “In line with text” (appears just like any other character, on the same line as the text) or using any number of other choices such as “Square” (text wraps around your equation). With “Square” selected, you can drag your equation anywhere on the page!

            You can also resize your equation in Graphics mode. If you place your pointer over a corner, it turns into a double-arrow. Drag the corner to the desired size, and release.


V.        Editing your Equation

            Equation Editor does a lot of formatting for you. Besides drawing the various symbols, it makes numbers and variables the right size relative to those symbols, and automatically italicizes variable names, to name a few. It also fully allows embedded objects, and adjusts formatting to reflect the order in which you embedded things. One thing it doesn’t do very well, is to allow you full control over each of the separate objects – once two or more objects are embedded within each other, you can’t easily select one and delete it. To eliminate an embedded object, you sometimes have to start over. Use “Edit/Undo” to fix mistakes as they happen.

As an example, we’ll make a fraction within a fraction (a compound fraction):


1)      Insert an Equation object from the “Insert/Object…” menu, selecting “Microsoft Equation 3.0” (see page 1 for illustration)

2)      Click on the fraction object, and the single fraction

3)      Type something in the numerator. Click in the denominator space and type something plus an operand.

4)      Click back on the fraction icon on the toolbar, and select the same fraction format as before.

5)      Finish out your fraction by typing in the new boxes created in your denominator.


6)      Click outside the Equation box, and type some text.

7)      Click on the equation, then right-click and select “Show Graphics Toolbar.”

8)      On the graphics toolbar, click and drag on “Text wrapping” down to “Square,” and click.

9)      Drag your Equation to the end of the text.



There are several things available to you in Equation Edit mode which are also available from your general formatting toolbar. As a general rule, if it’s available from within Equation Editor, you should select it there, since, otherwise, you will lose the auto formatting and scaling properties of a graphic. Here’s a couple of examples:


Exponents: You’re probably used to using “Superscript” in “Format/Font” to get exponents. In Equation Editor, create exponents or subscripts this way:

1)      Type the exponent in as an ordinary number.

2)      Highlight the number by dragging across it.

3)      Select the superscript from the “Superscript and subscript templates”

Brackets/Parentheses: These are available as characters directly from your keyboard. However, in Equation Edit mode, you should use the “Fence Templates” feature. Since the keyboard parentheses are just fonts, they will not scale to enclose large content like a fraction. To put brackets or parentheses in an equation:

1)      Enter brackets from the “Fence Templates” menu. It’s best to enter embedded brackets at once by creating one, then clicking inside them to insert another.

2)      Enter the content (numbers, variables, exponents, etc.) and format. Equation Editor allows you to type anywhere inside or outside the brackets.



            It is not the intention of this document to show the entire range of Equation Editor’s capabilities. Some serious playing and experimentation is required. However, as with any technology tool, if you force yourself to use it when it’s new and awkward, then you’ll save a great deal of effort in the long run! The main advantages to using such a tool in the preparation of worksheets, quizzes, and tests include…


  • Readability. If your hand-written quizzes get a lot of “Is that a 3 or a 5?” questions, this will help!
  • Flexibility: Re-numbering problems, or changing the numerical values in each problem, is trivial. Hence, producing several versions of tests (for different rows in a class, different class sections, makeup exams, or different school years) is quite easy.
  • Convenience: You do not need to keep a file cabinet of old quizzes and tests. Digital copies can be stored anywhere a computer can access, so you can post exercises on web pages, or easily share them with other teachers by simple email attachment or network location.


Here’s some hints on how to speed up your document creation:


  • Create one equation. Include any formatting or content you intend to include in all of the problems of a set. Enter Graphics mode (see above). Then right-click on it, select “Copy,” right-click anywhere else on the page and select “Paste.” This avoids the clumsy “Insert/Object…” menu option, and allows you to pre-format problems reducing creation time
  • Keystroke equivalents are available to instantly place many of the Equation objects in your equation.  In Equation Editor, click “Help” and “Index.” Type in “Keyboard” and double-click on “keyboard shortcuts.” You’ll get a list of pages with keyboard shortcut equivalents. Print them out and keep them next to your keyboard!