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If you ever had to present an equation as part of a Word document — maybe you’re studying mat — you know manually entering formulae isn’t easy. The the amount of special characters involved and the complexity of proper formatting can make it really tough. Fortunately, Microsoft Office 2016 offers some tools to make life a little easier.
Once you’re fully aware of the assists built into the Office suite, properly integrating even the most complicated equations into your work will be a breeze. Then there’s just the simple matter of understanding what you have in front of you…
1. Inserting Stock Equations
There are certain mathematical equations that Office users will need time and time again, so Microsoft decided to save everyone some time and effort by offering several built-in staples.
These equations can be accessed by heading to the Symbols section of the Insert tab. Click the Equation dropdown and choose one of the built-in examples to insert it into your document.
Once the equation is on the page, you can use the dropdown to its right to make tweaks like switching between the Linear and Professional formatting styles. The box on the right hand side of the equation is simply a “handle” to make it easier to drag the statement around your document without its contents being rearranged.
It’s worth noting that you can make edits to these built-in equations simply by highlighting individual values and typing in the desired replacement. Once you’ve done that, you can use the drop-down option Save as New Equation to store this formula for further usage.
It’s well worth checking out the More Equations from Office.com option from the Equations drop-down in the Ribbon. As long as you’re connected to the Internet, this will offer up further pre-written equations sourced online, ranging from relatively simple stuff like a basic fraction multiplication template, to more in-depth formulas like the Gamma Function.
2. Writing Out Equations Manually
To start writing an equation manually, navigate to the Symbols section of the Insert tab and click the word Equation itself, rather than the accompanying drop-down button.
The shortcut to start typing out an equation is ALT+=. You’ll notice that when you start creating an equation manually, the Ribbon will relocate to the Equation Tools section of the Design tab to give you quick access to a number of symbols and structures. It’s great to have these characters on hand, but you can of course also use the corresponding ASCII codes or even the Character Map.
Note that while you’re in this mode, input from your keyboard will default to italicized math text when you’re in a math region. If you don’t want this to happen, use the Normal Text toggle in the Tools section of the Ribbon.
Once you’ve written up your equation, you can use the standard text formatting tools in Word to edit its visual appearance. However, changing the typeface likely won’t have much of an effect — only specialized math-friendly fonts tend to feature all the necessary characters. You can still amend text size and color as normal.
If your equation is one that you’re likely to reuse on a regular basis, it’s well worth saving it so you don’t have to write out the formula manually each time. To do so, click the dropdown button on the right hand side of your equation and select Save as New Equation.
The save dialog that opens up as a result is largely self-explanatory, but do take a moment to consider the Options drop-down. This will allow you to stipulate whether your equation can be inserted directly into text, or whether it defaults to being added as a new paragraph or even a new page. The latter two options won’t be appropriate for every single formula that you write, but they will save you time and effort when it comes to formatting in certain situations.
3. Drawing an Equation With Ink
Office 2016 also lets you write out equations freehand, either using your mouse or a touch interface. If you’re planning on working with the latter input method, make sure to familiarize yourself with Windows Ink beforehand.
Once you’re ready to get started, head to the Symbols section of the Insert tab and use the Equation drop-down. Select Ink Equation to open the drawing interface.
The drawing interface consists of a space for you to write, and a preview box that shows how the equation will look on the page. This gives you the opportunity to perfect your work before it’s inserted into the document — but you’ll likely find that Windows Ink is able to read your handwriting quite accurately.
Write out your equation in full before you go back to make any edits. Windows Ink is smart enough to take context into account, so even if it misunderstands certain characters as you’re writing them, it might auto-correct to the desired result after the entry is complete.
If you do need to fine-tune your equation, you have two tools at your disposal. The first is the Erase function, which deletes individual characters or symbols one by one and cannot be undone, so be careful as you’re using it.
You can also use Select and Correct to replace an element of your equation, rather than deleting it outright. To employ this tool, select it at the bottom of the window and use the cursor to draw around the character or symbol you want to amend until it turns red.
You’ll then be presented with a selection of replacements to pick from. If the character you’re looking for isn’t listed, you’ll just have to make another attempt at drawing it.
Once your equation is ready, just click Insert and it will be added to your document.
Do you have a tip on how to produce perfect equations in Office 2016? Or are you looking for help with a particular problem that’s not covered by this article? Head to the comments section to ask for advice, or offer it up to other readers.