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TechNote #117: Last modified: 11/03/2016

Locating Symbols not found in MathType Symbol Palettes


The information in this document applies to:
 

MathType 6.x (Windows & Mac)

 


Issue

Since mathematics makes use of many different symbols, finding a particular symbol is a common task for MathType users. MathType's symbol palettes contain the symbols most commonly used in math but MathType can also make use of the many other symbols present in the fonts on your computer. This note describes techniques for finding them and using them in your equations. If a symbol is one you think you might need often, there are techniques described here to put it on MathType's toolbar or assign a keyboard shortcut to it.


Reason

Most computers come with many fonts installed, and some of these contain symbols of use in mathematics. Additional fonts containing symbols can be added to a computer adding to the total number. While MathType puts the most commonly used ones on its Symbol palettes it would be impractical to include every possibility. MathType can make use of nearly all installed fonts and therefore it can make use of symbols contained within those fonts.


Solution

MathType's powerful Insert Symbol feature provides facilities for finding symbols that are not available via its Symbols palettes. There are a variety of ways you can find a particular symbol using the Insert Symbol feature. Once you find the one you want, you can save it to the MathType toolbar and/or assign a keyboard shortcut so you don't have to go hunting for it again.

See the next section for step-by-step instruction on using MathType's Insert Symbol feature. Once you've found the symbol you want, use the links below to learn about saving symbols to the MathType toolbar and assigning keyboard shortcuts.

Using Edit > Insert Symbol

  1. Open a new MathType window.
  2. From the Edit menu choose Insert Symbol (the following dialog box opens).

    Insert Symbol dialog
     
  3. There are basically three methods used to find symbols. Using the View by pull down menu choose either of the following:
    • Font - This option is used in conjunction with the accompanying pull down menu to identify any of the computer's installed fonts and will display all available characters associated with that font in the selection window. Note: We specify all available, because MathType 6.x is not capable of accessing all characters from many OpenType fonts. MathType will display the characters in Insert Symbol that are available to use in MathType.
    • Style - This option is used to sort available options by type such as,
      • Text
      • Function
      • Variable
      • Lowercase or Uppercase Greek
      • Symbol
      • Matrix Vector
      • Number
      • User 1
      • User 2
      • Extra Math
    • Description - Choosing this option and clicking New Search can be used to search for a specific symbol or character name.

    searching by description

  4. For this example we will search for the Per mille symbol using the View by Description option.
  5. From the View by pull-down menu choose Description.
  6. Click the button, New search...
  7. In the resulting window, type the name of the desired symbol. Since we want to find the "per mille" symbol (), we'll type per mille.
  8. Click OK.
  9. The result will be a display of all per mille symbols available. See image below;

    Finding a symbol by description
     
  10. Click once on the desired per mille symbol and click the Insert button located in the upper-right corner.
  11. Click Close.
  12. This will return focus to the MathType window with the per mille symbol in the workspace.

    the "per mille" symbol after we inserted it into MathType
     
  13. For more information regarding Insert Symbol options please consult MathType help or the MathType User Manual.

Saving frequently used symbols to the MathType toolbars

Symbols that are to be used frequently can be saved to the MathType toolbar. Doing so enables you to enter the symbol into the MathType workspace by simply clicking on it in the toolbar. To save a symbol or expression to the toolbar perform the following steps.

Continuing from the above exercise:

  1. Select the entire symbol in the MathType workspace.
  2. Click-and-drag (click on the highlighted symbol and while holding the mouse button down, move the mouse) to either of the small toolbars or the tabbed tool bar and release the mouse.
  3. This will place the per mille symbol on the toolbar so it can be used in future expressions.

    saving a symbol to the toolbar
     
  4. Alternatively, you can save any symbol to the MathType toolbar directly from the Insert Symbol dialog as follows:
    • Once you have located the desired symbol using the directions above,
    • Hold down the Alt key and while doing so, click-and-drag the symbol from the selection window to the MathType toolbar.

    Saving a symbol to the toolbar directly from the Insert Symbol dialog
     

  5. For more information on working with the MathType toolbars consult MathType Help or the MathType User Manual.

Assigning keyboard shortcuts to frequently used symbols

Saving a symbol to the toolbar is one way to keep a symbol handy for future use. Similarly, a keyboard shortcut can be assigned to the symbol for quick entry to the MathType workspace. Keyboard shortcuts are a key or set of keys that perform a predefined function. An example would be, Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut for copy. To create a keyboard shortcut for a symbol you've placed onto the toolbar, perform the following steps:

  1. Locate the symbol to which a keyboard shortcut will be assigned.
  2. Right-click on the symbol and from the resulting menu choose Properties. The following dialog opens:

    Expression Properties dialog
     
  3. In the field, "Description for expression:", type the symbol name, "per mille" (This is an optional, but recommended step.).
  4. In the field labeled, "Enter new shortcut key(s)" type the desired keyboard shortcut. Note that if your shortcut includes the Shift, Ctrl, or Alt keys, or any combination of the above, simply holding down the key causes MathType to enter the proper text in the box. You don't have to specifically type in the word "Shift", for example. The same is true on the Mac for the Shift, Ctrl, Alt/Option, and Command keys.
  5. Click the Assign button located at right.
  6. Click OK to close the Properties dialog and return to the MathType window.
  7. Test by typing the keyboard shortcut that was just created. Notice that when you place the mouse pointer over an item with a keyboard shortcut, the shortcut is displayed in the MathType Status Bar at the bottom of the MathType window. Similarly, if you entered a description in Step 3 above, the description will be displayed in the Status Bar as well.
  8. Alternatively you can assign a keyboard shortcut to any symbol in the Insert Symbol Dialog as follows:
    • In the image below, notice the portion of the Insert Symbol dialog located at the bottom of the window,

      Creating a keyboard shortcut for a symbol in the Insert Symbol dialog.
       
    • Select the desired symbol by clicking it once.
    • In the field labeled, "Enter new shortcut key(s):" type the desired keyboard shortcut. Note that if your shortcut includes the Shift, Ctrl, or Alt keys, or any combination of the above, simply holding down the key causes MathType to enter the proper text in the box. You don't have to specifically type in the word "Shift", for example. The same is true on the Mac for the Shift, Ctrl, Alt/Option, and Command keys.
    • Click the Assign button
    • Close the Insert Symbol Dialog.
  9. For more information on working with keyboard shortcuts, consult MathType Help.

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