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MathType Tip: Copy equations from Wikipedia and other websites into MathType

Applies to:

  MathType 6.x (Windows and Macintosh)  


You're preparing a lesson and you'd like better examples than the ones the textbook provides, so you decide to look on the web. You find some equations you'd like to use in your class notes and in your PowerPoint slides, but copying and pasting the images from the web page results in blurry images that are unsuitable for printing or projecting.


MathType 6 allows you to copy an equation from many websites and paste it into MathType to use as you would any other MathType equation. The key to this process is to use a website that includes TeX as "alt text" on the equation image. (There's a brief, but good, description of alt text on Wikipedia.) Many websites do this -- including Wikipedia and PlanetMath -- as do many blogs and wikis. Once you find an equation you want to use, here's what to do:

  1. If you're unsure whether the equation has the proper alt text included, one way to tell is to hover the mouse pointer over the image. Some browsers will show the alt text in floating text that looks something like this:

x(t) = A\cos \left( 2\,\pi \,ft+\phi\right)

If you don't see the floating window when you hover the mouse pointer over the equation, it doesn't mean the alt text isn't there. Continue...

  1. Select the equation by dragging the mouse across it:

  1. Copy the equation, either with the shortcut Ctrl+C or by choosing the Copy command from the Edit menu.
  2. Paste the equation into MathType, either with the shortcut Ctrl+V or by choosing the Paste command from the Edit menu.
    1. Note that when you select the equation in the browser, it's easy to accidentally copy extra blank spaces either before or after the equation, so you may need to delete these extra spaces in MathType.
    2. If you try to paste the equation into MathType and nothing happens, go back to the web page to ensure you've properly selected the equation and try again to copy and paste it. If nothing happens in MathType after this second attempt, the most likely cause is that the equation you chose doesn't have TeX alt text associated with it.
  3. If the equation pasted successfully into MathType, it is now a MathType equation that you can use just as you would any other MathType equation -- edit it, re-size it, change the color, etc.

Many websites and blogs use this technique of adding TeX (or LaTeX) alt text, and we cannot list them all here. Experiment on your own, and when you find a usable website, it's probably worth bookmarking it so you can use it in the future. We'd also like to know about other sites you find that MathType works with, as well as sites you'd like MathType to work with. If you come across sites like this, please let us know. This technique also works with some course management systems, such as Moodle.

If you have a tip that you'd like to pass along to us for possible inclusion in our Tips & Tricks, email us. If you want to make sure you're among the first to find out about new MathType Tips, subscribe to our Design Science News blog.

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